Takeaway: Innovation occurs at the intersection of different fields of study.
My wife originally told me about this book. She saw the author speak at last year’s Chick-Fil-A Leadercast. It is an interesting book. If you like random facts and good stories and enjoy the writing of Malcom Gladwell or Chris Anderson, you will like Medici Effect.
The basic thesis is that we need to encourage innovation by encouraging people of different backgrounds and fields of study to work together. So an architect in Africa created a new system for cooling a building because he knew he could not rely on the electricity intensive standard air conditioning system. So he found out about how giant termite mounds keep precise temperatures and incorporated those insights into the build’s design and was able to cool the building with less than 10 percent of the energy costs of a regular air conditioning system.
Here is a video I saw today that is not in the book, but is a great example of innovation. Using soda bottles to provide light in impoverished communities.
The book is full of similar stories. I did not actually finish the book. I read the first half and it started to get repetitive and I got distracted by other books. I should probably get back to it, but it has been a couple months now.
What I do find interesting is that this book is essentially arguing for the standard classical liberal arts education when many people are arguing for essentially trade school style educations for most professions. It is not really the point of the book, but as someone that went to a liberal arts college and then mixed two graduate degrees from different fields I am a fan of this part of the thesis.
It is a good book, but for some reason, the price is a bit high right now. I bought it several months ago for $9.99 on kindle and the price is now $12.10. For a book that can be easily summarized into an article (without all the details, but with the basic concept intact) the price of the book is a bit ridiculous.