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  • By Bill Lydon
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By Bill Lydon, InTech, Chief Editor

A person's most important asset is the ability to think, create, and implement. This requires keeping focused on some key elements:

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is an ongoing and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge in your personal life and profession. This continuous personal development expands the scope of your knowledge, keeps your mind active, and increases your ability to contribute to your profession and society. It makes you a more valuable employee. Learning is not confined to the classroom but takes place throughout life and in a range of situations. In addition to formal training, impactful learning takes place in our daily interactions with others and with the world around us. ISA is an important source for automation professionals to continue learning with formal training and informal networking opportunities.

Open mind

Keeping an open mind may seem obvious, but becoming more experienced many times leads to an automatic rejection of new ideas. History illustrates the rejection of new ideas that turned out to be winners; here are some from the past:

Those who loaned Robert Fulton money for his steamboat project stipulated that their names be withheld, for fear of ridicule were it known that they supported anything so "foolhardy."

In 1881 when the New York YWCA announced typing lessons for women, vigorous protests were made on the grounds that the female constitution would break down under the strain.

Men insisted that iron ships would not float, that they would be damaged more easily than wooden ships when grounding, that it would be difficult to preserve the iron bottoms from rust, and that iron would deflect the compass.

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

A major contributor to progress is new ideas that first were met with rejection and skepticism. Recent industrial automation industry examples include the initial rejection of Direct Digital Control and Ethernet for industrial plant communications.

"The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." - Albert Einstein


Taking time to look at things differently can yield brilliant results. One useful mechanism I learned at the Creative Education Foundation is to develop a number of alternatives by asking, "in what ways might we," about the issue, challenge, or application. This works when you initially suspend judging the ideas, no matter how strange they seem. Later you can go back to logically review them, and many times combining these thoughts leads to new insights.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." - Albert Einstein

 Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex . . . It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein


Better ideas and solutions can be created by collaborating with others who have different perspectives and ideas. In the context of industrial automation, this could include maintenance people, operators, IT people, and business managers.


To be effective, the ability to think, create, and implement needs to be coupled with action that will lead to greater personal development.

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. - Albert Einstein

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About The Authors

Bill Lydon is an InTech contributing editor with more than 25 years of industry experience. He regularly provides news reports, observations, and insights here and on