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Book title The Medici Effect, comes from a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy. Thanks to Medici 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. The main idea is that Medici family formed an Intersection of people and ideas which then develop new kind of ideas, innovation and new avenues of development in science, art, businesses and life.

When you connect two separate fields, you also set off an exponential increase of unique concept combinations, a veritable explosion of combinations of ideas. For example if you take rock music there is about 2,400 variations (this is number of combinations when you multiply 4 basic rock instruments with  cca 12 different structures and about 50different vocals) to develop new music. Similary, if you multiply 30 classical instruments with about 40 different structures and only 2 different vocals) you get again 2,400 variationas. However, if you combine rock music and classic music you get more than 6 million variations.

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.

So this is my assessment of the book The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson according to my 8 criteria:

1. Related to practice - 4 stars  

2. It prevails important - 4 stars

3. I agree with the read - 5 stars

4. not difficult to read (as for non English native) - 4 stars 

5. Too long (more than 500 pages) - short and concise (150-200 pages) - 4 stars

6.Boring - every sentence is interesting - 4 stars

7. Learning opportunity - 5 stars

8. Dry and uninspired style of writing - Smooth style with humouristic and fun parts - 4 stars 

Total 4.25 stars

The Medici Effect - Frans Johansson (Highlight: 68; Note: 0)


Here are some highlights and excerpts from the book that I find worth remembering (Complete highlights and excerpts from the book you can find athttps://antoniozrilic.com/myblog):

▪ The name I have given this phenomenon, the Medici Effect, comes from a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.

▪ 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

▪ The major difference between a directional idea and an intersectional one is that we know where we are going with the former. The idea has a direction. Directional innovation improves a product in fairly predictable steps, along a well-defined dimension. Ex- amples of directional innovation are all around us because they repre- sent the majority of all innovations

▪ Intersectional innovations, on the other hand, change the world in leaps along new directions. They usually pave the way for a new field and therefore make it possible for the people who originated them to be- come the leaders in the fields they created. Intersectional innovations also do not require as much expertise as directional innovation and can therefore be executed by the people you least suspect. Although inter- sectional 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 prod- uctdevelopment 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 models we use to explain the evolution of financial strategies are mathematically similar to the equations biologists use to understand populations of predator-prey systems, competing systems, and symbiotic systems,” says renowned investment manager Robert Hagstrom, vice president and executive director of Legg Mason Focus Capital.

▪ Although chains of associations have huge benefits, they also carry costs. They inhibit our ability to think broadly. We do not question assumptions as readily; we jump to conclusions faster and create barriers to alternate ways of thinking about a particular situation.

▪ Researchers have long suspected that these associative barriers are responsible for inhibiting creativity.

▪ When Samuelsson thinks of, say, tomatoes, his as- sociations reach further than for most Swedish or European chefs. When I say pesto, he doesn’t think basil; he says dill. If I say tandoori, he doesn’t instantly think chicken; he says smoked salmon.

▪ A person with high associative barriers will quickly arrive at conclusions when confronted with a problem since their thinking is more focused. He or she will recall how the problem has been handled in the past, or how others in similar situations solved it.

▪ A person with low associative barriers, on the other hand, may think to connect ideas or concepts that have very little basis in past experi- ence, or that cannot easily be traced logically. Therefore, such ideas are often met with resistance and sentiments such as, “If this is such a good idea, someone else would have thought of it.” But that is precisely what someone else would not have done, because the connection between

▪ the two concepts is not obvious. Two people or two teams--one with high barriers, the other with low barriers--will approach a similar op- portunity in completely different ways.

▪ Research also indicates that people who are fluent in multiple languages tend to exhibit greater creativity than others. Languages codify concepts differently, and the ability to draw upon these varied perspectives during a creative process gener- ates a wider range of associations.3

▪ Assumption reversals are a remarkably effective way to challenge the way you think about almost anything. The example outlined here comes from the outstanding book Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko.13 The purpose is not necessarily to come up with a specific idea, but to shake your mind free from preconceived notions. This is how it works: 1.­First, think of a situation, product, or concept related to a chal- lenge you are facing, and think about the assumptions associated with that situation. 2.­Next, write down those assumptions; then reverse them. 3.­Finally, think about how to make those reversals meaningful

▪ For instance, suppose you wish to open a new restaurant but are having difficulty coming up with a novel concept. First list some of the more common assumptions involved in running a restaurant, and then reverse them

▪ Now try to think of ways you could conceivably build a sustainable business out of each reversal. Here are some examples: 

➣ A restaurant with no menus: The chef informs each customer what he bought that day at the meat, vegetable, and fish markets. The diner selects the desired food items and the chef creates a dish from them, specifically for each customer. 

➣ A restaurant that does not charge for food: This restaurant is a café where people get together to talk and work with each other. The café charges for time spent instead of food consumed. Selected low-cost food items and beverages are given for free. 

➣ A restaurant that does not serve food: The restaurant has a unique and beautiful décor in an exotic environment. People bring their own food and beverages in picnic baskets and pay a service charge for the location

▪ groundbreaking innovators also produce a heap of ideas that never amount to anything. We play only about 35 percent of Mozart’s, Bach’s, or Beethoven’s com- positions today; we view only a fraction of Picasso’s works; and most of Einstein’s papers were not referenced by anyone.8 Many of the world’s celebrated writers have also produced horrible books, innovative movie directors have made truly uncreative duds, megasuccessful entrepreneurs have disappointed investors, and pioneering scientists have published papers with no impact whatsoever on their colleagues

▪ In his influential book Origins of Genius, psychologist Dean Simonton from the University of California­Davis explains why we see this relationship between production and success. He says innovators don’t produce because they are successful, but that they are successful because they produce. Quantity of ideas leads to quality of ideas.

▪ Simonton verified that the relationship between quantity and quality indeed holds true. The number of papers a scientist publishes, for instance, is correlated with the number of citations the scientist receives for his or her top three works. In other words, the best way to see who has written groundbreaking papers is to look at who has published the most. You can test this a hundred different ways, but the results come out the same.

▪ When you connect two separate fields, you also set off an exponential increase of unique concept combinations, a veritable explosion of ideas. Or, to put it succinctly, if being productive is the best strategy to innovate, then the Intersection is the best place to innovate.

▪ How many combinations, then, could the average rock musician generate based on these variations? How many times could he combine different instruments with different structures and different vocals before he ran out of combinations? By simply multiplying the variations in each group, we see that a rock musician in this example has 4 x 12 x 50, or 2,400, combinations to work with when developing new music.

▪ If we calculate the variations as we did for the rock musician, we find that a classical composer can choose from a total of 30 x 40 x 2, or 2,400 concept combinations when trying to come up with new music.

▪ L inus pauling, Nobel laureate in both chemistry and peace, once said, “The best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

▪ In his influential 1957 book, Applied Imagination, Alex Osborn suggested brainstorming as a method for groups that were solving problems.6 According to Osborn, brainstorming would greatly increase the quantity and quality of ideas generated by the group. The rules for brainstorming were easy. The group should: 

1.­Produce as many ideas as possible 

2.­Produce ideas as wild as possible 

3.­Build upon each other’s ideas 

4.­Avoid passing judgment on ideas

▪ In a brainstorming group only one person can speak at a time, although not necessarily in any particular order. If everyone spoke at once, no one would hear what the others said. But this presents a big problem for us humans. Our short-term memory is not capable of developing new ideas and at the same time keeping the old ones in active storage. If we become blocked in reporting our ideas because we have to wait for someone else to describe theirs, we may forget them altogether.

▪ While brainwriting, people simultaneously generate written ideas on the same problem, building off each other’s ideas without speaking at all. Here is how you do it:9 Everyone sits at a table together, each person with a blank sheet of paper. Another blank sheet is in the middle of the table within everyone’s reach. The basic problem to be solved or explored has been clearly described or written down. At the start of the session, each person writes (or sketches) one idea on the sheet in front of them, tosses that sheet into the center of the table, and then picks up a sheet put in by someone else. The person reads the idea on that sheet and tries to build on it in some way. Whether or not they can directly build on it, they write another idea, toss the sheet into the center, and continue. Whenever anyone picks up a sheet from the center of the table, they read through prior ideas, trying to make con- nections and ignite sparks of new ideas.

▪ Mistakes and false starts are part of the process for making ideas happen at the Intersection. If we hope to innovate, we must factor them into the equation. We must continue executing ideas and move past our failures. But how? What ultimately makes someone like Deborah Prothrow-Stith, or anyone else for that matter, successful at the Intersection? In short, she was willing to 

➣ Try ideas that fail to find those that won’t 

➣ Reserve resources for trial and error 

➣ Remain motivated

▪ we know that the likelihood of quality increases with high output, but it’s not guaranteed. It is more likely, however, that unsuccessful mass producers are not pursuing different ideas, but are simply producing incremental variations of similar (and mistaken) ideas. Imagine, for instance, writing fifteen very similar books on a topic no one finds worthwhile or valuable. It is all right to make new mistakes, but not to repeat old ones.

▪ One characteristic of intersectional ideas is that many assumptions you make during development will be wrong. This is why you must not only expect failures but also plan for them. Deborah Prothrow-Stith did it. So did Hawkins and Dubinsky. Anyone succeeding at the Intersection will tell you the same story; their original idea had to be modified again and again. Picasso, for instance, used up no less than eight notebooks just for preliminary sketches of his revolutionary painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.10 This approach, however, requires a careful preservation of re- sources, whether those resources are money, time, reputation, contacts, or power.

▪ Perhaps the most important strategy for success at the Inter- section is to remain motivated. If you stay motivated, you will have the wherewithal to push past your mistakes and stick with an idea until you become successful. If you lose this motivation, though, complete failure seems all but inevitable. Not only will you lose interest in what you are doing, but your willingness to explore different creative ideas or to take risks drops quickly. Motivation, then, is crucial for help- ing you persevere when initial ideas fail.

▪ Amabile and others have verified the negative effect a reward can have on creativity in numerous studies

▪ Explicit rewards, then, can be an effective way to kill off our creativity

▪ Both people and firms in a value network will have set up processes and procedures that essentially kill off attempts to break out of it. New ideas that do not correspond to the values of the network have a way of getting eliminated. This is why we must break out of these networks if we want to enter the Intersection with the highest chance of success

▪ How do we escape from the net- works that once were so helpful to us? The following two strategies can help: 

➣ Break the chain of dependence 

➣ Prepare for a fight

▪ Break the Chain of Dependence The only way to succeed in breaking away from your old value network is to stop relying on it.

▪ The only w ay to succeed in breaking away from your old value network is to stop relying on it. Sometimes this means that you have to quit your job and join an institution that can quickly help you establish a new network, like Eric Bonabeau did. Other times it means you have to start building new relationships almost from scratch.

▪ Chopra was willing to risk his reputation. “It’s the prime principle of creativity: You must take risks. All creativity lies in the unknown, not in the known.”

▪ most of us are uncomfortable with: the ability to live with risk. And risk taking is essential if you wish to turn your intersectional idea into innovation

▪ risk homeostasis says that people will compensate for taking higher risks in one area of life by taking lower risks in another.

▪ Imagine, for instance, that you are driving your car and you enter a dangerous section of the road, filled with narrow curves and poor lighting. You would naturally slow down to compensate for the new dangers. Conversely, when you leave this risky section and encounter wider, straighter lanes and better lighting, you speed up again. This behavioral pattern makes so much sense that it cannot really be questioned. But the implication of such behavior is anything but intuitive. It suggests that efforts we take to decrease risks around us, such as making roads safer, amount to little because our behavior becomes riskier to compensate.

▪ In other words, more money leads to greater spending. Having more time means taking more time. Having greater experience or better contacts means relying more on them to get things done. It is not that we waste time, money, or contacts, but that we try to do more with the amount that we have. In trying to do more, we slowly begin to increase the risk of failure, until we hit a level we are subconsciously comfortable with.

▪ The secret is this: If you want to create something revolutionary, head toward the Intersection. The Intersection represents the best chance to innovate because of the ex- plosion of unique concept combinations. It offers a great numerical advantage when looking for fresh ideas. In other words, the Intersection is a low-risk proposition for breaking new ground.

▪ What are they doing to find the courage others seemingly cannot? And how can we emulate it? There are at least two different strategies we can follow: 

➣ Avoid behavioral traps relating to risk 

➣ Acknowledge risks and fears

▪ You don’t w ant to create an environment that becomes overly risk averse,” Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, told a reporter for an interview in Fortune. “Because business is about taking risks. It’s about taking prudent risks, calculated risks, but business doesn’t happen unless people take some risks.

▪ But if we understand where our fear of failure comes from, we can fight it. To do that, we will delve deep into the subtle and strange world of human psychological inconsistencies. We will learn what traps us within a field, and what we have to do to achieve a balanced view of the risks involved.

Trap 1: If Things Are Going Well, We Stay Within a Field

▪ Prospect theory suggests that it is not so much that we hate uncertainty, but rather that we fear losing. It is not that easy to see how things in our life could instantly get better-- but it is easy to see how they could quickly get far worse.

▪ This explains why we tend to stay within our own field when things are going pretty well instead of venturing toward the Intersection. Most of us would rather coast than risk losing what we have. It is comfortable and often very prudent to move forward in small, controlled steps, mak- ing sure to reap the gains we know we can get

Trap 2: Time Spent in a Field Becomes a Reason to Stay in the Field

▪ Imagine that you’ve invested $10 million developing a new solar energy technology but have nothing to show for it. Would you invest more? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. It depends, but the answer has nothing to do with the $10 million you have already invested. Any standard economics textbook will tell you that the decision to invest more time or money should be based on what’s going to happen in the future. Economists call the money spent “sunk cost” because capital invested is gone and cannot be taken back. It is out of the equation, and all that matters now is what the future can provide

▪ This emotional trap creates a substantial barrier to stepping into the In- tersection, even if we’ve found remarkable ideas worthy of pursuit. It is also a fairly common trap, difficult to avoid.

Trap 3: We View Risks at the Intersection from a Directional Perspective

▪ This famous experiment suggests that people are deeply influ- enced by how a particular problem is framed. Given different presen- tations, the same situation may be seen as both risky and safe even by the same person.

▪ The risks within established fields are better defined. In these cases we understand what is at stake. But if we maintain these frames of reference while evaluating ideas at the Intersection, we will always reach the conclusion that the uncertainty is too great.

We can unearth two important tools for overcoming fear: 

  1. The first is acknowledging fear The most effective way to combat fear is to acknowledge it. What does it mean to acknowledge fear? For starters, you have to come to terms with what is at stake and admit that you might lose it. Often this means that you must be comfortable enough to know that if everything is lost, you can still move on.
  2. the second is admitting that one can fail.We cannot always escape our fears, but we can manage them. By accepting our fears, by acknowledging that we can fail, and by becoming comfortable with what happens if we do, we can much more effectively move toward realizing our ideas at the Intersection.

▪ In the words of Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not ab- sence of fear.”

▪ Everything connects in one way or another. The trick is seeing how things connect and then knowing how to use those connections.

▪ The unexpected nature of the Intersection makes it a place of uncertainty. It is unknown territory where past knowledge and experiences are poor guides.

▪ There is logic to intersectional ideas, but the logic is not obvious.

▪ Dawkins suggested that evolution did not occur between species or even between organisms, but between genes--and that these genes were “selfish.” This theory was a notable contribution to his field and earned Dawkins sig- nificant acclaim.14

▪ Marcus Samuelsson has low associative barriers. He makes unusual associations outside the field