According to Frans Johansson, “When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas. The name I have give this phenomenon, the Medici Effect, comes from a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.”
He agrees with Richard Dawkins who suggests (in The Selfish Gene) that ideas, or memes, compete, in a real sense, for space in our minds. Hence the importance of a process for collective, collaborative generation and refinement of ideas. In terms of both the number of people and the number of ideas, “the more the merrier.”
Here is what Johansson recommends
What to Avoid
1. Associative limits and barriers that exclude anyone and anything from the process that is “different,” “doesn’t fit,” etc.
2. Arbitrary deadlines that eliminate ideas too soon
3. Disagreement and conflict that become personal
4. Failure to execute ideas (“the greatest failure of all”)
5. Loss of motivation
What to Ensure
1. Diversification of participants (e.g. expertise, perspectives, and approaches)
2. Recognition of trends and patterns that can be integrated
3. “Intersection hunting” (i.e. searches for connections in unlikely places and see where they lead)
4. Ignition and explosion of ideas
5. Sufficient time for evaluation of ideas
Frans Johansson is the author of The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures, published by Harvard Business Review Press (2006).
OTHER SUGGESTED READINGS
The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm (2001)
The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization (2005)
Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman
The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It (2011)
Scott D. Anthony
Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results (2009)
Morten T. Hansen
Morten Hansen is a professor at University of California, Berkeley, and at INSEAD, France. He was previously a professor at Harvard Business School for a number of years. Prior to joining Harvard University, Hansen obtained his Ph.D. from the business school at Stanford University. In addition to his academic career, Hansen was a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in the London, Stockholm and San Francisco offices. He was part of the research teams for the international best-selling books Built to Last and Good to Great. Hansen’s research on collaboration has won several prestigious awards, including the best article awards from Sloan Management Review and Administrative Science Quarterly, the leading academic journal in the field. Several of his Harvard Business Review articles have been bestsellers for a number of years. He regularly consults with companies on collaboration and gives keynotes at leadership conferences. His new management book is Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results (Harvard Business School Press, 2009) and, more recently, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, co-authored with Jim Collins (HarperBusiness, 2011). A native of Norway, Hansen holds a Master’s degree in finance from London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Stanford University where he was a Fulbright scholar.
To watch an interview of Morten during which he shares his thoughts about “How Great Leaders Make Their Own Luck” please click here.
To read my interview of Morten and Jim Collins, please click here.