Since its publication in 2004, THE MEDICI EFFECT has become the definitive book on how diversity drives innovation, and its influence keeps on growing. The book's premise is that we have the best chance of finding game changing ideas when we combine insights and concepts from diverse fields, industries, cultures and backgrounds. Over the years, my firm has helped hundreds of organizations and leaders orient diversity and inclusion to be strategic to how they think about opportunities, innovation, and growth. The book is as relevant, if not more today, than when it was first published, so I'm thrilled that Harvard Business Review Press will be issuing a new edition of THE MEDICI EFFECT in 2017. Keep your eyes out for it!
Perhaps the most consistently rewarding impact of my work is when I get an opportunity to engage an audience, and as a result transform an organization’s or individual’s journey. I have had the opportunity to speak on all six continents, in over 40 countries, and in front of hundreds of thousands of people every year. Some organizations have brought me back more than 20 times, and every week people reach out to me to share how much a talk has changed their perspective or inspired them to act. My speaking company, FJ Live, has grown to develop more interesting experiences to inspire audiences around the world.
Since the publication of THE MEDICI EFFECT, its ideas have become foundational to innovation, creativity and diversity. Today, research papers, books and articles from all over the world cite its theories, while innovation thought leaders have expanded or built on its principles. One of my intellectual heroes—Clay Christensen—not only said the book was “one of the most insightful books on managing innovation” that he has ever read, but that it also supports some of his ideas on innovation (primarily The Innovator’s DNA). Thousands of organizations worldwide have incorporated intersectional thinking into everything from strategy and marketing to HR and innovation.
IMAGE: Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry
Both THE MEDICI EFFECT and THE CLICK MOMENT support curricula at business schools around the world such as Harvard, Berkeley, SMU in Singapore, and Lviv in Ukraine, to name a few. In fact, entire university programs have been designed around THE MEDICI EFFECT, such as the IAE innovation program in Argentina. Disney has also made it a key component of their creativity and innovation curriculum at Disney College. This space interests me greatly, since I believe that the way we structure our university programs tends to be far too siloed. Stay tuned!
IMAGE: Baker Library at Harvard Business School
The area where my work has had, by far, the most consequential impact—and the area I am most proud—is how the world thinks about diversity and inclusion. The idea that Diversity Drives Innovation has influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations around the world. For many leaders, this message has been a complete wake-up call. Being involved in guiding their thinking in this area has been extremely rewarding. Organizations as different as The Federal Reserve, ESPN, Volvo, Nike, Novartis, and IBM along with governments, universities and NGOs have all evolved through this work.
IMAGE: The 2016 ESPN Body issue featured more diverse talent than ever, including the first transgender athlete
Even countries widely seen as global leaders in education, such as Singapore, find themselves aiming to integrate creativity more aggressively into their programs. I spoke to over 2,500 teachers in Singapore on how to accomplish this together with the country’s Minister of Education. These efforts, in turn, led to the creation of a creativity curriculum introduced to 8-12 grade students.
IMAGE: Merlion Fountain and Marina Bay, Singapore
There are some companies that have been on the cutting edge of design for decades, and it's always exciting when they can use my ideas to further their craft. For instance, Jason Mayden, Nike’s legendary top designer of the Air Jordan brand, drew inspiration from the place I call the Intersection. My firm eventually worked with Nike to create a customized 4-hour Medici Effect experience that inspired thousands at the company in over 40 countries. Many of these ideas were also incorporated into the creation of Blue Ribbon Studio, Nike’s design center.
IMAGE: Air Jordans by Nike
THE MEDICI EFFECT has grown into a highly effective ideation technique, written about in countless articles. Over the past couple of years, I wanted to formalize the technique, and the end result has become known as The Medici Method™, one of the most effective ideation techniques ever and offered by my firm’s training unit, Intersection Lab. We developed it to find the sweet spot for ideas that are beyond the incremental but not too far out that people do not understand how to execute them, and it also allows individuals to become passionate about those ideas. It is used by thousands of teams everywhere, leading to unrivaled ideation sessions and reimagined hackathons, and can last anywhere from 4 hours to 2 days.
Perhaps a development I should have anticipated, but did not, was the impact my ideas would have on building design. For instance, after a presentation to the leadership team at Aditya Birla, one of India’s largest conglomerates, they designed a new Science and Technology Centre north of Mumbai for the explicit purpose of creating a Medici Effect among its scientists and engineers. Similarly, Houston Community College, the fourth largest community college system in the United States, incorporated these Medici principles into their new West Houston Institute.
IMAGE: Aditya Birla Science and Technology Centre
In 2006, I gave a talk in Orlando on using the Medici Effect approach for regional development. This talk inspired a number of initiatives, but none as incredible as Medical City, a $2 billion life sciences development in Orlando. It was built specifically to create the Medici Effect by bringing together research facilities, educational institutions, clinical treatment centers, and a unique set of entrepreneurs. Its potential impact in the region is being compared to the impact of the Kennedy Space Center and Walt Disney World.
IMAGE: Medical City complex in Orlando, Florida
In 2015, I shared thoughts on how to boost innovation in Europe with the EU's Commission on Science, Research and Development. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Medici Effect and intersectional innovation had already been incorporated as key features of the the Dublin Declaration, a framework for creating and growing the EU’s Innovation Ecosystem. Since then, its impact continues to spread in this region. For instance, the Swedish government created Research Institutes of Sweden (RiSE) by bringing together the country's leading research institutes under one umbrella to unleash the Medici Effect.
IMAGE: View of Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
THE MEDICI EFFECT has become a “go to” text for leaders in economic development, and several countries and regions are exploring using its ideas to drive growth. The Medici Group worked with institutions in Trinidad & Tobago, such as Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, the International Financial Centre, and the Ministry of Planning to catalyze the economy, which grew by more than 40% during this time. These Medici Effect ideas have also been embraced in as diverse and far-flung locations as Silicon Valley, Nigeria, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Turkey, Singapore, Portugal, Australia, and Italy to name.
The fusion of technology and marketing is an example of a Medici Effect playing out in front of our very eyes. For instance, Bob Lord, who is the current Chief Digital Officer for IBM (and previous President of AOL and CEO of Razorfish), outlined how much THE MEDICI EFFECT has influenced his worldview in his book, Convergence: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology. Andrew Baxter, the CEO of Publicis Australia, likened the impact of the Medici Effect approach to that of design thinking. These ideas have influenced leading organizations at this intersection, such as Gartner, McCann, Porter Novelli, Google, IBM, Wipro and Microsoft.
When Tobias Dahl read THE MEDICI EFFECT, it inspired him to change how DICE, a leading gaming studio (now part of Electronic Arts) integrates designers, programmers, and animators into new constellations. They started working this way while developing Mirror’s Edge. The approach enabled DICE to dramatically innovate the first-person shooter genre, leading to a highly anticipated sequel. This team approach was later used for their globally successful Battlefield series, which also features more diverse characters.
One of the most exciting developments has been the creation of a completely new innovation model. The model relies on diversity, unpredictability and action to transform an organization’s culture—this is the most complete application of the ideas in THE MEDICI EFFECT and THE CLICK MOMENT to date. The chief outcome of this model is the incredible increase in speed that leaders and the organization can experience in making ideas happen. For instance, The Medici Group helped a division at a global entertainment company become 5-10 times faster in executing ideas within the span of a year while creating new businesses with some of the highest margins ever seen at the division. I like to say that “Speed is the New IP,” and this perspective is becoming more evident by the day.
THE MEDICI EFFECT has inspired a movement in creating new events and experiences. Recents events my team and I were involved in include drupa cube at drupa 2016 in Dusseldorf, one of the largest trade and expo events in the world, with 300,000 attendees; and The Intersection Event held at Pixar Studios and Google with innovators such as Ed Catmull and Tim Brown. Today, organizations all over the world are creating a myriad of new types of meeting styles inspired by the book’s message. In 2014, I teamed up with legendary Walt Disney Imagineering executive Joe Rohde to create an epic event: a battle over the soul of creativity. Fun times!
IMAGE: Artwork promoting the event with Joe Rohde and me
The ideas of THE MEDICI EFFECT have inspired the mission of a variety of new organizations. For instance, the healthcare company “The Medici” draws its name and identity from my book, as it explores the boundaries of new innovative approaches in medicine. Firms such as the global marketing agency FreemanXP and analytics firm Medici Technologies were similarly inspired by innovation at the intersection.
IMAGE: The Medici is one of many organizations around the world inspired by THE MEDICI EFFECT.