Archive for the ‘Creativity & Innovation’ Category

Our perceptions, our knowledge, our beliefs, i.e. our mind sets, are the result of patterns we have created in our brains over time.  On one hand they are a good thing because they are efficient and they require little thought.  Imagine having to pull out a map or use your GPS every time you wanted to drive home from a familiar location.  On the other hand, according to Dr. Edward Miller, Dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University, 90% of people who have coronary bypass surgery do not change their lifestyles.  Why is this?  The patterns we create in our brains are wired, eventually hard wired, and difficult to change – they can become mental traps

What’s the key to avoiding restrictive mental traps? Pattern-switching – it’s the ability to switch over and see things in a different way and create new connections.  It is the basis for insight, learning, and dare I say wisdom – eventually. Pattern switching is much more difficult for the “close minded” person.  The “open minded” individual who is also open to influence has greater success.

I used to have an open mind, but my brains kept falling out.  ~Steven Wright

So let’s get back to the original question – what is the most powerful  mind changer?  Humor – it’s the most straightforward and obvious expression of the ability to switch patterns. It’s one we seldom resist. With humor, we suddenly see or think of something in an unexpected new way, and it makes us laugh, or at least chuckle.

I think the power of the mental process that underlies humor trumps logic and reason. Logic and reason help us explain things and figure them out –  humor changes them.

Note: For a more deliberative approach to pattern-switching, see The Medici? Effect.

Incites: Many managers have an open door policy. To be effective, they also need an open mind policy. When you have a different point of view, do you ask other people about the thinking, the experiences, the story behind theirs?  How can you connect the two different perspectives to create a new connection. For example: A physicist speaking with a minister – If heat rises, wouldn’t Heaven be hotter than Hell?


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?