We often think of innovation in terms of a singular event, such as the invention of the telegraph or the invention of the light bulb. But the truth is that each of those advances drew on the accumulated knowledge and effort of many other individuals — both predecessors and contemporaries of the individuals who were ultimately credited with those inventions.
Edison, for example, was far from the only person working in the 1870s to develop a viable way to produce electric light, a concept that had been demonstrated as far back as the beginning of the 19th century. Several patents for incandescent lights already had been granted in Europe, Canada, and the United States. But Edison emerged as the “inventor” of the light bulb in 1878 for one important reason: His was a team effort.
Thanks to the work conducted by his band of researchers at his famous lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey — and his incorporation of key advances developed by others over the years — he was able to roll out the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb, one that went beyond the lab to serve the actual needs of the public.
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The truth is that the greatest innovations are collaborative efforts. And we achieve the best results when we push forward together toward a common goal, incorporate the best ideas drawn from a diverse pool of talent, and provide real, usable solutions.
The mission of the One Region organization is a case in point. To achieve its mission to grow population, attract and retain talent, and increase household income in Northwest Indiana, a collaborative approach between local businesses, government and legislators, and the population in our area is required for success.
In much the same way, meeting the requirements of our shared energy future is another example my company is involved in. Today, it is more important than ever to take a collaborative approach to designing and implementing the new energy strategies that will power Northwest Indiana into the years ahead.
At NiSource, we understand that we are much more than a commercial entity that generates and sells energy. We are also a social and community enterprise that includes not only our employees, but also our business partners, our customers, and the communities we serve — a team that works together to satisfy our mutual and individual needs.
It is clear to us that people must be at the center of any effort aimed at shifting to a greener, more sustainable energy supply. And everyone must be a participant. That’s why we adhere to principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do, ensuring that all of our stakeholders — both inside and outside of our company — have a voice in guiding and shaping our energy future.
Through collaboration, we are doing more than simply transitioning to new energy sources; we are ensuring that every innovation we implement also provides financial, economic, social, and environmental benefits to all, as well as making sure that economically vulnerable customers share in the benefits of the new energy paradigm.
The shift to renewable sources is an incredibly complex task that will require the participation and input of many diverse parties in order to achieve a new energy mix that is reliable, affordable, resilient, and environmentally sound.
For NiSource, this means collaborating closely with partners, regulators, and other government authorities as we bring solar, wind, and other sources online to reduce the environmental impact of energy production and supply. It means working with other energy producers to leverage our natural gas infrastructure to transport fuels such as hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and/or greener fuels blended with natural gas. And it means listening to all stakeholders and acting on their needs.
Innovation through collaboration also enhances our ability to adapt more quickly to change, and more efficiently respond to new opportunities to provide a better, more affordable, and more ecologically sound energy mix in the years ahead.
And the fact is that by working as a team, each one of us will have had a hand in shaping that future.