loren Eric Swanson: The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson

“When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas…The Medici Effect comes from a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-centruy Italy. The Medicis were a banking family in Florence who funded crators 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 the 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 ost innovative eras in history. The effects of the Medici family can be felt even to this day" (p. 3)

The Medici Effect describes the creative process where insights are gained at the intersections of disciplines. “‘The more mutually remote the elements of a new combination, the more creative the process or the solution.’ In other words, if the concepts combined are very different, the new idea will be correspondingly more creative” (p.69). This means that if we want to think differently about ministry, movements everywhere, the externally focused, church, etc. then most likely breakthrough insights will not come from thinking about ministry...as strange as that might seem.

Johansson makes the distinction between "directional ideas" and "intersectional ideas." "Directional innovation improves a product in a fairly predictable steps, along a well-defined dimension... Intersectional innovations, on the other hand, change the wolrd in leaps along new directions. They usually pave the way for a new field and therefor make it possible for the people who originated them to become the leaders in the fields they created" (p. 19). Now here is an interesting sentance: "Intersectional innovations also do not require as much expertise as directional innovation and can therefor be executed by the people you least suspect" (p. 19)

"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 followeres, 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" (p. 19).

The Medicis lived at a time of liminality--the state between two paradigms (dark ages and Renaissance). There are many who have lived in this space but also played a part in what the next paradigm would become. Jeremiah's ministry was covered the time before the captivity (when he preached impending judgment) and during the captivity (when he preached pervasive hope). Augustine and Patrick lived and ministered as the Rome fell (406 AD) and the Barbarian hoards crossed over the Rhine and flooded into Europe.

Remember liminal states are times "when what has worked in the past no longer works but what will work has not yet been revealed." The opportunity before us is we have an opportunity to shape what may / will work in the future. But this future will not be created by repeating / doing more of / doing with more effort only what has been done in the past but rather by looking afresh at the timeless desires of God and the timely intersections of today.

Johansson, Frans, The Medici Effect, Harvard Business School Pres, (2004)


At Thursday, July 21, 2005 2:27:00 PM, Blogger Mike Holberg said...

Hey Eric,

Could you post a blog on how you added the Syndicate module to your blog. I would like to let others know about this so that they can be placed on my My Yahoo page.


At Friday, July 22, 2005 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Mike Holberg said...

Well...I actually figured it out...maybe I'll post it at some point so others can take advantage of it as well.

At Saturday, July 23, 2005 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Bill Petro said...


I set this up for Eric on his blog.

The short answer: it involves editing some HTML in your Blogger template. If you feel confortable doing what is described in this Help entry below, I can give you the longer answer. If not, it's a bit more ugly than that. See http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=110&topic=22

-Bill Petro


Post a Comment

<< Home