The Medici Effect: How Diversity Improves Creativity and Performance


By: Dale Mask

Amazing things can happen when talent from different disciplines and cultures come together.

In Frans Johansson’s book, The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts & Cultures, published by Harvard Business School Press, he explains that when two different disciplines or cultures intersect, it can exponentially expand the number of new ideas that can be explored.

When new ideas are created, they are really created from a combination of existing ideas.

For example: Scientists took a gene from the yellow weaver spider, which produces a web five times stronger than steel, and put it into goat herds. The milk harvested from these herds is now used in a process to make stronger and more flexible artificial tendons.

In the same way, people from different disciplines, backgrounds and cultures can come together to form high performance teams capable of generating innovative ideas and executing break-though approaches.

The “Medici effect” term comes from the wealthy Medici family of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Their wealth allowed them to attract artists, scientists, poets, architects, theologians, and philosophers to Florence. The resulting interactions and work of this diverse culture stimulated a burst of creativity that was the key factor allowing society to emerge from the Dark Ages and enter into the Renaissance era.

We use the Medici effect as a metaphor for deliberately bringing different cultures together in order to create more productivity through the intersection of different ideas, experiences, backgrounds and beliefs. This is only possible when intercultural differences are understood and intercultural communication is taking place effectively.

Many intercultural and diversity seminars and programs are designed to:

  • Break down cultural barriers

  • Help people accept and understand the value of diversity

  • Help people better understand their own cultural heritage

  • Help people view issues from different perspectives and different cultures

  • Encourage people to venture beyond familiar networks and develop better relationships

  • Generate high levels of understanding and acceptance of differences

  • Improve communication

  • Formulate new ideas

  • Improve team performance

Take advantage of the Medici effect in your team and the organization by celebrating diversity at all levels.

By: Dale Mask

© 2015 Alliance Training and Consulting, Inc.



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