The Medicis were a banking family in Florence who funded creators from a wide range of disciplines. Thanks to this family and a few others like it, sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, financiers, painters, and architects converged upon the city of Florence. There they found each other, learned from one another, and broke down barriers between disciplines and cultures.
Together they forged a new world based on new ideas—what became known as the Renaissance. As a result, the city became the epicenter of a creative explosion, one of the most innovative eras in history. The effects of the Medici family can be felt even to this day.
These introductory words come from a book “The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation: What You Can Learn from Elephants and Epidemics” by Frans Johansson (Author).
The book is not that new (it dates from 2006), but it is very relevant to today’s innovation challenges. You can find the book on Amazon.com via the links above, but there is also a free PDF summary here and a Google Book edition here. And obviously, there is the website www.themedicieffect.com .
There was also a 2004 book The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures
The core of these books is about two types of ideas:
- Directional ideas
- Intersectional ideas
Directional innovation improves a product in fairly predictable steps, along a well-defined dimension. Examples of directional innovation are all around us because they represent the majority of all innovations. This is what we call incremental improvements (Innovation is in my opinion a bit on the optimistic, even window-dressing side).
The goal is to evolve an established idea by using refinements and adjustments. The rewards for doing so are reasonably predictable and attained relatively quickly. People and organizations do this all the time through increasing level of expertise and specialization. It is absolutely necessary if one does not wish to squander the value of an idea. Even an intersectional idea will, once it has become established, develop and evolve along a specific direction.
Intersectional innovations, on the other hand, change the world in leaps along new directions. This is what Guy Kawasaki calls “jumping the curve”. These ideas are game changers. I am preparing a whitepaper on how NIBC (Nano, Info, Bio, Cogno)) technologies are major game changers.
Although intersectional innovations are radical, they can work in both large and small ways. They can involve the design of a large department store or the topic of a novella; they can include a special-effects technique or the product development for a multinational corporation.
In summary, intersectional innovations share the following characteristics:
- They are surprising and fascinating.
- They take leaps in new directions.
- They open up entirely new fields.
- They provide a space for a person, team, or company to call its own.
- They generate followers, which means the creators can become leaders.
- They provide a source of directional innovation for years or decades to come.
- They can affect the world in unprecedented ways.
The Medici Effect is about bringing together people of different fields of expertise and
let the magic of
cross-fertilization of ideas
What sort of people do we need to invite ? In essence, we are looking for people who succeeded at
their associative barriers
because they did one or more of the following things:
- Exposed themselves to a range of cultures
- Learned differently
- Reversed their assumptions
- Took on multiple perspectives
The explosion of concept combinations at the Intersection can offer a myriad of uniquely combined, extraordinary ideas.
I have a dream
That we can turn Innotribe.com into a Medici Effect: the place where different disciplines find each other, and through that intersection come up with intersectional innovations.
I have a dream
That we can turn the SWIFT Campus into a hosting environment, where we facilitate those intersections to happen.
I have a dream
That i can blend my personal interest of creating a Think Tank on Long Term Future with my professional endeavors at SWIFT.
I have a dream
That together we can write The Readiness Manifesto. The strategies and focus areas to prepare the Net.Generation – the 20-25 years old of today – to stand up as our leaders in 20 years from now in 2030.
But NIBC technologies are not the holy grail. There was a fantastic quote in one of Fred Destin’s latest blogs on Venture Capital 2.1:
The fundamentals of the business have changed. Technology is a quasi-commodity, the spread of ideas is instantaneous, competition is global, in other words the market is more efficient.
“Technology is a quasi-commodity”
Wow ! So what will be your differentiator ?
I believe it will be in the HOW of delivering products and services. And i can’t help re-quoting Umair Hague in his Good to Great Manifesto and my related post some days ago. Umair Hague proposes a number of new corporate principles:
- First how, then who: “Do our people have the capacity to judge right and wrong, no matter how great they are?”
- The Yoda/Hedgehog concept: “companies should only do what they can be great at, what makes tons of money, and what they’re passionate about.”
- Ethical accelerators: “”transparency, openness, rules, and accountability. Most companies have not a single one of these”
- A culture of meaning: “Production and consumption are meaningful when they actually yield durable, tangible benefits to people, communities, and society”
- Confront reality:” Banks, for instance, confronted the “brutal fact” that selling toxic financial instruments was great for their bottom line. But they never confronted the simple reality that a classic asset bubble in housing was failing to do good.”
So, the question is not only “What will be the technical readiness kit that we will need to provide ?”.
The question really is:
What will be the value kit
that will have to underpin
this highly technological environment ?
Below an extract of my initial input for this essay:
We must carefully analyze and think-through on how all this will influence the way we will and want to live and work in the future. What sort of life-quality we aim for? What the socio-economic impact of all this may be? How we want education to be organized? Where we still can and want to influence? How are we going to deal with the Technical and Value Readiness of our region to be competitive in this new era ? To lead the change, and not only be mediocre followers?
I believe it’s time for action. I believe The Fifth Conference and its natural network of inspiring leaders bears deep in itself the embryo for a sort of “think-tank/foundation” on long term future. A movement and an energy that prepares our Net-Generation for the next 20 years. To focus on our technical and value readiness. A place where “smart people” can meet. Where experts from different technological domains share their insights for 2030. Cross-fertilizing each other’s disciplines. With “savants” from different contexts & worldviews that can act as our “eyes” and offer a perspective on how we will live, work in 2030.
Or will we find ourselves in 2030 like this medieval knight trying to get his cup of coffee in the local deli ?
No, in 2030 we want our children to be in a position to lead and not be the “behaving” followers in some old-European country that is by-passed by countries and regions that work at the speed of light, that have higher education standards, higher ethical standards, in other words who have found the “how-differentiator”.
My desire is to create
a Medici Effect
where the dream can come true.
Who feels connected ? Who would like to join this tribe ?
Let me know via the comments of the blog, or contacting me directly. Please also let me know where the model flaws. What you would add to it ? Do you believe i am on to something or just living an illusion ? Let me know.