The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation

There are more ideas at the intersection of fields and cultures.

  • The intersection of fields and cultures generates massive numbers of combinations of different ideas. People at the intersection can pursue more ideas in search of the right one. One example is people who have combined musical styles like rock and classical or popular music and country.

Brainstorming Basics

  • Produce as many ideas as possible. Produce ideas as wild as possible. Build upon each other’s ideas. Avoid passing judgment on ideas. Real groups feature people generating ideas as a group. Virtual groups feature people working as individuals who then combine ideas Who wins? In 25 reported experiments real groups have never won. Total ideas are about one-half for real groups and virtual groups generate more good ideas.

Problems with real groups

  • Blocking – While waiting for someone to describe and idea one might forget what they were going to say. You cannot develop ideas while keeping others you developed in active (short-term memory) storage. Evaluation apprehension – some hesitate to mention wild ideas for fear of being judged if only in a private manner. Free Riders – Some just sit back and let others do the work. Before groups meet, schedule fifteen to twenty minutes for members to brainstorm as individuals. Each records ideas as they get generate them to avoid forgetting. Work as a group to combine and display all ideas. Take turns contributing to keep everyone involved.

Take Your Time

  • To get the best ideas you should allow for time prior to implementation. This allows you to postpone judgment. This allows you to approach the idea from a different perspective rather than relying on instinctive judgment. During the incubation period, you can stop actively thinking about a problem with your conscious brain and let it ferment in your subconscious. When you actively return to it days or weeks later you will see it in a new light.
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