the medici effect

medici effect.jpgThe Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation, by Frans Johansson

this is a quick read on where real innovation comes from. johansson contends that there are two kinds of creativity and innovation. one is linear, staying within one field of study, one body of knowledge. most companies (and people) who are trying to innovate, attempt this directional innovation. like, an engineer who tries to think up a new way of building a bridge by surveying bridges already built and thinking of a refinement or change.

johansson contends that this kind of innovation is rare, and never substantial when it happens. we’re too locked into our modes of thinking, and we put up barriers to potentially innovative influences from outside the field (because they’re seen as a threat or a distraction).

the second kind of innovation is intersectional. it’s the stuff that comes from the intersection of two different fields of study or bodies of knowledge. this is where – the author contends – all deep and significant innovation occurs. johansson gives dozens of helpful illustrations — like, how a knowledge of the feeding patterns of african ants helped inform truck drivers trying to find the quickest route through the swiss alps at any given time.

anyone interested in being innovative should read this book. it’s a great book for a team read and discussion.

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