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

Making Ideas Happen

  • The best ideas are nothing without follow through. You need to be prepared to accept failure. Mistakes and false starts are part of the process of making ideas happen. Reserve resources for trial and error. Don’t run out of resources before you can iterate towards success. The greatest failure is the failure to execute new ideas. People with low failure rates might not be trying enough new ideas. Learn from failure. Don’t reward the same mistake twice.

Remain Motivated

  • Motivation is crucial for helping you persevere when initial ideas fail. Explicit rewards can be an effective way to kill off creativity. (One study showed that groups with no chance of a reward solve problems faster.) If intrinsic motivation is high, if we are passionate about what we are doing, creativity will flow.

How does this apply to education?

  • To better solve problems you face: engage in life-long learning, expose yourself to different cultures and networks of people, generate lots of ideas, stay motivated and passionate about what you are doing, be prepared to try again after false starts, be patient, and plan ahead. Work with others on problem-solving but generate ideas independently prior to the discussion.
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