In The Medici Effect, author Frans Johansson explores one simple yet profound insight about innovation: in the intersection of different fields, disciplines and cultures, there’s an abundance of extraordinary new ideas to be explored.
Putting together ideas from different areas — ideas that were always seen as completely apart can easily generate an explosion of new ideas. And since the best way to have great ideas is to have lots of ideas, the best chances for innovation are at those intersections.
Idea Generation and Execution
The Medici effect refers to a phenomenon that occurs when a number of talented, creative and productive people from different fields are brought together and are able to collaborate to create something innovative and new. The idea comes from a book by Frans Johansson by the same name. It draws on the history of the wealthy Medici family, whose patronage brought poets, philosophers, scientists, painters and other artisans from around Europe to Florence, Italy, between the 13th and 17th centuries. Bringing these talented people together and allowing them to collaborate is believed to have kicked off the Renaissance period, a period of human history marked by great innovation.
This is where the “The Medici Effect take place” where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, departments, and disciplines collide, ultimately igniting an explosion of ideas leading to extraordinary innovations. Breakthrough ideas are most often “intersectional” and occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory.
According to Johansson, there are a few “facts of innovation” that govern the creation of new ideas:
- All new ideas are combinations of old ideas, but not all idea combinations are created equal.
- People and realizations that change the world often generate a number of powerful ideas. Johansson cites Richard Branson–and the various ideas he and the Virgin empire have spawned–as an example.
- When you bring together diverse teams and perspectives, you have the ability to create an exponential increase in ideas.
There are countless examples of how this works in the social innovation realm, but Johansson points out a few particularly powerful examples, including the Burqini, a bathing suit developed in Australia for Muslim women, and the architects who have used lessons from how termites construct mounds in the African Savannah to build an energy-efficient shopping center and office block in Zimbabwe.
In general, biomimicry is one of the most prominent examples of disciplines colliding to do good. That ultra-efficient solar panel? It’s based on the biology of leaves. And that energy-efficient skyscraper? In the future, it might be covered in cooling lichen.
An Innovative approach to bring Innovation.