Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation
Why do so many world-changing insights come from people with little or no related experience? Charles Darwin was a geologist when he proposed the theory of evolution. And it was an astronomer who finally explained what happened to the dinosaurs.
Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect shows how breakthrough ideas most often occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory, and offers examples how we can turn the ideas we discover into path-breaking innovations.
Creativity with a new spin
By Dr Cathy Goodwin - December 7, 2004
Medici Effect opens slowly and at first I was disappointed: just another book of business successes. But as I began taking notes, I realized Frans Johansson really has a new message for all of us.
I recommend skimming the first chapters to get to the second part of the book, and then going back to understand application of principles. The heart of the book is about the definition of intersectional innovation and the conditions that must exist for breakthroughs to happen -- a combination of individual qualities, environmental support, luck and perseverance.
Perhaps the most helpful, most widely applicable guidelines involve planning for failure and, relatedly, moving from quantity to quality. Prolific authors, artists and business people tend to be successful. They might discard a dozen "bad" ideas to come to two or three successes. So we should reward people for actions, not just success. The only true failure is failure to act.
Frans Johansson starts with a great concept: that innovation is most likely to occur at the intersection of multiple fields or areas of interest. He's a good writer and does an admirable job organizing and tying together a number of relevant ideas and examples. The examples are also nicely done - a set of engaging stories which describe - in broad terms -how the innovators who are profiled got started and what they went through to acheive their breakthroughs.
But, beyond the nice examples, which are similar to those found in many other books, there is little that sets this book apart. The idea of crossing over and combining disciplines is not really a new concept and much of the discussion about the creative process is pretty basic. The book's introduction and chapter headings (e.g., "Creating the Medici Effect" and "Making Intersectional Ideas Happen") led me to expect more in-depth insights. But the Medici Effect is lite on the practical and it tends to describe the... read more
Compulsory reading for educators, scientists, business executives, and everyone else with pretentions to intellectual prowess...
By Dag von Lubitz "Generalist and Conceptualist" - December 18, 2006
This is not an academic book. Nonetheless, all should read it, if for no other reason then simply in order to learn why having a broad-based knowledge and curiosity are essential attributes of a person living in the post-modern world.
The pattern of the book is not terribly innovative: good ideas followed by the expected examples of how sterling men and women implemented these concepts in practice and attained an even more sterling level of success. Altogether, very much in style of all other books aimed at predominantly business-oriented readers who, for whatever reason, need the examples set by (successful) luminaries in order to be converted to the creed. A more demanding reader may, upon seeing the same "follow the banality" pattern, reject the little volume as another horrid, trivial, and profoundly intellectually boring "thing." Do NOT do that: it would be a major mistake, and you would miss on a number of really important thoughts.