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Innovation through Interperspective

Rebel Innovation & The Medici Effect

I’m a great fan of The Medici Effect and the insights articulated by Frans Johansson (The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation) – which explores the power of innovation when diverse fields, ideas and cultures intersect – although it’s a relatively recent journey into his work for me, it’s furthered my excitement about a longstanding passion that’s now coming to life. This passion which I have called an interperspective approach (multiple perspectives interacting) has been the driving force behind the inception of Rebel Innovation, an endeavor committed to forging the very intersections I’ve found Johansson celebrates.

On a personal note, drawing from my own experiences across various realms—from working with remote African communities and international development NGOs, to the global corporate sector, and pursuing an interdisciplinary doctorate—I’ve gained a unique and privileged vantage point. This breadth of experience has offered me a real understanding of the transformative power of intersecting ideas, expertise, and backgrounds.

My journey has vividly illustrated many of the concepts discussed by Johansson, such as the persistence of associative barriers that keep ideas siloed and the status quo maintained. In Africa, for instance, we still see countless copy-cat ‘solutions’ to unchanging economic problems funded repeatedly by big donors. This practice often overlooks innovative solutions in favor of the familiar, highlighting the inefficiency of a singular approach and siloed expertise, amongst other factors. This has led me to question the traditional separation of sectors: why are business minds so rare in the NGO world when they are tasked with crafting business solutions that are so critical for example?

Similarly, I’ve experienced remarkable innovation that emerges at the crossroads of diverse streams of thought—be it through significant agritech and fintech changes or smaller sustainable business innovations sparked by unusual collaborations, like a global CFO meeting an illegal wildlife hunter, together designing innovative conservation financing methods and underscoring a critical insight: the barrier to sustainable practices can lie more in confidence than in actual ability, especially when we delve deeper into systems. And beyond solving global or local issues, at the intersection of perspectives, one can learn to understand there are different ways of thinking, interpreting, and improving.

The diversity of minds worldwide is vast, yet relying on a single perspective doesn’t cut the mustard. We need a variety of perspectives, blending different experiences and expertise, to meet the challenges we face. And we need to do so with urgency; the clock is ticking, and resources are dwindling. It’s time to create intersections and drive innovation through collaboration, before it’s too late.

Image blending ancient and modern

The power between diverse minds

Time and again, I’ve found myself pondering the potential that can be unleashed when diverse minds tackle a challenge. What marvels, I’ve wondered, might arise from such collaboration in remote corners of the planet? Do we all have to go to Harvard or might the unassuming old man in the jungle propose an incredibly useful perspective to Nasa? Furthermore, I am convinced that the solutions to global challenges are currently being sought by a disproportionately small number of thinkers and perspectives.

This personal note just highlights Rebel Innovation’s passion for the fundamental principle celebrated in Johansson’s work: the remarkable capacity for innovation and transformation that exists at the intersection of diverse perspectives and collaborative thinking. We are on a mission to create these intersections worldwide.

"Expect the unexpected. If you do, you will start seeing the world from new perspectives. Suddenly, you will find intersections everywhere.”

Johansson, 2017, p.188

Fostering innovation through collaboration

To foster innovative thinking, actively engaging with diverse intersections has become more apparent. Johansson argues the value in breaking down associative barriers, and he recommends:

  1. Exposure to a range of cultures
  2. Learning differently
  3. Reversing assumptions
  4. Trying a different perspective

Central to this transformative journey is the act of collaboration, which involves a wide range of thought and unexpected ideas.

Rebel Innovation embodies this ethos, striving to be a catalyst for the kind of ideas that can only emerge from the fusion of diverse perspectives, experiences and cultures. Although our mission transcends the simple quest for innovation; it is a dedication to profound, collaborative exploration that challenges the status quo and transforms leadership paradigms, and perspectives. We are committed to fostering the principles of the Medici Effect by creating intersections across the globe and inviting individuals and organizations to join us in this endeavor.

"When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas.”

Johansson, 2017 p.2
Combinations - image of a painting

The Essence of The Medici Effect:

The concept is named after the Medici family of Florence, who played a significant role in fostering the Renaissance by bringing together artists, scientists, poets, philosophers, financiers, and other creative individuals from various fields. It teaches us that when people from different worlds and with different lenses come together, the potential for revolutionary ideas and solutions multiplies. In the context of modern leadership, The Medici Effect offers a profound lesson: true innovation is born at the intersection of diverse experiences and knowledge. Collaboration is at the core.

Applying The Medici Effect in Modern Leadership:

The Medici Effect is more than a historical curiosity—it’s a blueprint for contemporary innovation. It invites leaders and thinkers to step into a world where boundaries are blurred, and collaboration is the catalyst for change. True leadership reflects the principles of The Medici Effect. It requires a commitment to championing diversity, fostering a culture of learning, and promoting an open, inclusive environment. By embracing the principles of The Medici Effect, leaders can catalyze innovation that is not only groundbreaking, but also holistic and inclusive.

“we must employ tactics that allow us to learn as many things as possible without getting stuck in a particular way of thinking about those things.”

Johansson, 2017

Navigating today’s complexities with The Medici Effect

Leaders worldwide face an imperative unlike any before: to cultivate a mindset distinct from the past, amidst an ever-expanding sea of complexities and shifts. This holds true whether one is at the helm of a corporation or guiding a community. Yet, the essence of leadership today transcends merely navigating through challenges and adapting to changes; it encompasses the art of identifying and capitalizing on opportunities, and adopting a fresh perspective.

For leaders to pioneer new ways of thinking, they must seek out sources of inspiration that prompt a transformative shift in their mindset. Without a catalyst to disrupt conventional thinking, there’s a tendency to default to the familiar, perpetuating the status quo. In the context of today’s dynamic world, clinging to the familiar is not just stagnation—it’s a gamble with unforeseen consequences. Embracing change and fostering innovation are not merely options but necessities for those who aspire to lead effectively in this era of unparalleled change.

  • Nurturing Innovation through Diversity: As leaders, creating environments where diverse talents and perspectives can collide is essential. It’s at these intersections that new concepts and solutions to age-old problems are conceived.
  • Tackling Complex Global Challenges: Today’s problems are multifaceted, demanding a tapestry of insights. Diversity in thought and experience allows for more comprehensive solutions.
  • Fostering Intellectual Agility: Encouraging professionals to step out of their comfort zones and encountering unfamiliar disciplines leads to a rich exchange of ideas and greater diversity of thought, expanding the horizons of what’s possible.
  • Promoting Inclusive Growth: When leadership emphasizes the value of every voice, it paves the way for more equitable and sustainable innovation, ensuring that progress benefits all.
  • Cultivating a Global Mindset: Leaders who are exposed to a variety of cultures and ideas are better equipped to navigate with empathy and acumen the complexities of a globalized market and can steer their organizations towards more resonant solutions.

How to instil principles of The Medici Effect in today’s leaders

Building transformative infrastructure that enables collaborative ingenuity in companies is an ongoing journey, including training leaders to think differently. By championing diversity and fostering a culture of curiosity and openness, leaders can unlock the transformative power of The Medici Effect, steering their organizations towards groundbreaking, inclusive progress. Sometimes it takes an educational odyssey to create the pathway.

  1. Facilitate Collaborative Expeditions: By participating in projects that require a fusion of minds from across the globe, leaders gain firsthand experience of the power of cognitive diversity.
  2. Cultivate Curiosity: A leader’s journey should be one of constant learning, embracing curiosity as a driving force for personal and professional growth. Encourage teams to explore beyond their comfort zones.
  3. Embrace Cultural Immersion: Understanding different cultural contexts not only enriches the leader’s perspective but also deepens empathy—a crucial trait for today’s global leaders.
  4. Encourage Freedom to Experiment: Encouraging risk-taking and learning from failure cultivates a resilient mindset that is not afraid to challenge the status quo.
  5. Create Intersection Spaces: Designing environments that promote spontaneous idea exchanges can lead to the serendipitous moments where innovation and collaboration thrives.

The Rebel Innovation Learning Journey

The call to action: cultivate diversity of perspectives, nurture curiosity, and foster a culture where diverse intersections are the norm, not the exception.

Rebel Innovation are on a mission to inspire individuals and organizations to practice and nurture the principles of The Medici Effect and embrace an interpespective approach in problem-solving.

We design unique learning journeys and create fascinating intersections of expertise, cultures, geographies and other aspects of diversity of thought around the world.

Join the Rebel Movement, experience a unique intersection somewhere very interesting in the world. Simply request a bespoke consultation and we take it from there…



Johansson, F. (2017). The Medici Effect, With a New Preface and Discussion Guide: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation. Harvard Business Review Press.