Given the esteem and trust we grant scientists and innovators, how could this happen?

How could research fraud, falsified data, and unproven conclusions result in 1,800 papers in leading journals and peer review articles being retracted in 2020? And this is not an anomaly. [1]

Two decades ago, journals were retracting roughly 40 papers per year. Journals now retract about 1,500 articles annually — a nearly 40-fold increase over 2000, and a dramatic change even if you account for the roughly doubling or tripling of papers published per year.

The public depends on our work to better society, Everything from…

A child with a question reminding us of the power of questions to discover
A child with a question reminding us of the power of questions to discover

“Dad — what’s that?”

My daughter, 4 or 5, was in her car seat as we were running errands. She grew impatient with my delay in answering her question.

“That!” she said as she pointed out her window at the curb.

“It’s called a curb,” I explained.

“What’s it made of?”


“What’s cement?”

I was about to enter the zone of never-ending questions from a toddler. I find myself curious about what goes through toddlers’ minds as they are taking everything in.

Her preferred choice of input was by asking her mom and me an endless string of questions.

I looked up and saw that look of disappointment.

My 8-year-old self was staring into the face of my father. I had badgered him for weeks to let me cut the grass to earn the same allowance my older brother got for the same chore. My early activism in equal pay for equal work.

His look communicated that I had not met his expectations. He sat me down and gave me — the talk. The talk about how the quality of the work will build up or destroy my reputation.

He boiled it all down to a simple maxim that…

No matter how much the boss or the customers yelled or threatened, the locomotive pulling freight and passenger cars refused to move. They were dead in the water.

The day started out as planned, but then went from good to bad. The train lurched to a stop without warning. Upon investigation, the engine had somehow lost a required part — a single screw. A screw they did not have and one not stocked at the closest repair depot.

A locomotive that costs $6M was unusable for a 1 cent part.

Most think that career achievement comes from succeeding at high-profile…

Inspired by Earl Nightingale

Note: The following post was inspired by a series of talks I heard by Earl Nightingale on his monthly Insight program produced by Nightingale Conant back in the early 1980s. I adapted and expanded his message specifically for innovators. We can all benefit from being reminded by this overlooked secret.

As a society, we have a problem.

Some years ago, the late Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer was asked by a reporter, “Doctor, what’s wrong with people today?” The famous doctor was silent for a moment, then he said, “People simply don’t think!”

Why do some not use our…

On January 13, 2018, the people of Hawaii woke to a shocking alert on their phones and TVs. An incoming ballistic missile was on its way and that the warning was not a drill. It was 38 minutes later that the alert was retracted.

During those 38 minutes — panic set in. People were trying to figure out what to do. People drove their families to highway tunnels in hopes it would protect them. We can only imagine the fear that raced through the population of more than a million people.

How did this happen?

Hawaii Emergency Alert System

The alert was accidentally triggered…

The term “out of the box thinking” is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. It originally came from some management consulting firms that were trying to solve problems in new ways.

The term was attached to a concept known as the nine-dot problem. The idea is a 3 x 3 grid of dots formed in the shape of a square, equaling nine dots. The challenge is to draw a line through all nine dots without retracing over a previous line or lifting your pen. You need to use out of the box thinking…

To be normal is to be ourselves — and never average

It is normal that no two people are exactly alike. Not even twins. So the word normal should not be confused with the word average. If you leave your fingerprints on something, you might as well leave your name and address since no two people have the same prints.

You hear music and see a sunrise differently from any other person. You might enjoy a movie that your spouse would do anything to avoid. You might like being in a crowd of friends while your spouse prefers an evening being just the two of you.

Want Your Children To Be Normal?

When you say, “I want…

Great Leaders Keep Cool Under Fire

Relax and keep cool — do not let anger get the best of you
Relax and keep cool — do not let anger get the best of you

My grandfather had an old saying when I was growing up, “Never burn a bridge.” At the time, I thought it was a strange saying. It was only later that I realized what he was saying. No matter how someone treats you, don’t get angry and never retaliate as to destroy the relationship. Great leaders keep cool even when the attacker is making it personal.

Leaders Keep Cool Under Stress

The president of a large corporation was confronted by an employee who stormed into his office and said, “I have a thing or two to say to you.” He then angrily poured out his complaints…

Phil McKinney

// Author of Beyond The Obvious // Host of Killer Innovations podcast // Pres & CEO of CableLabs // Retired HP CTO // All opinions are mine //

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store