The Medici? Effect

Posted: January 24, 2011 in Creativity & Innovation
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First of all, I would like to say I wish this concept had a different name.  I have heard it pronounced a number of ways:  MEH-de-chee, with the emphasis on the first syllable;  meh-DEE-chee; and  meh-deh-CHEE.   Finally, I went to a text to speech translator and picked Italian as the language.  I believe I heard the first pronunciation in the list with the Italian accent.  There was a long enough pause on the first syllable to enable the speaker to raise one or both hands in the air – I raised one.

Anyway, thanks to Frans Johannson for coining and popularizing the term in his book, The Medici Effect. Explanations and the story behind the the Medici family can be found on various websites and blog posts, so I will only address the concept. This is tickler Frans uses on his website.

What do termites and architecture have in common? Music records and airlines? And what does any of this have to do with health care, card games or cooking?

At the heart of effect is one simple yet profound insight: at the intersection of different fields, disciplines and cultures, there’s an abundance of extraordinary new ideas to be explored.

One of my favorite examples is the 2005 redesign of the standard amber-cast pharmacy pill bottle. The prescription bottle had remained virtually unchanged since its introduction after World War II.  Deborah Adler, a 29-year-old graphic designer, took up the challenge after her grandmother accidentally took her husband’s prescription.  Pharmacists had been using these bottles for 50 years and the only design change that took place was the addition of the child-safety cap in the seventies.

Here’s another example: African Locusts Improving Car Safety

Incite: How often do you read articles, magazines, or books not related to your profession? Attend conferences? Network with other professions? Do you encourage and support your employees in activities that the intersect with different fields, disciplines and cultures?


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