philosophy, the temperature inside Pearce’s building holds steady
between 73 and 77 degrees — despite 100-degree African days.
How Did He Do It?
“Pearce had stepped into the Intersection, a place where he
could combine architectural design and processes in nature,”
writes Frans Johansson, who encourages people to seek out
the Intersection and innovate in his book, The Medici Effect
(2006, Harvard Business School Press).
“This is a very interesting time. The old ways aren’t
working,” Johansson says. “People more than ever need to
innovate and come up with creative ideas — and to execute
As a speaker, Johansson says, you can do just what Pearce
did to find new ideas and new ways of presenting your material and grow your career.
Finding the Intersection
The first step is to find — or even seek out — the
Intersection. So, what is it?
Johansson describes the Intersection as the point where
different fields, disciplines or cultures meet. This makes it the
point where creativity and innovation are most likely to occur.
In The Medici Effect, he describes a 2002 research
experiment conducted at Brown University in which a rhesus
monkey was trained to play a computer game. The game,
seemingly nothing more than a child’s toy, required the
player to use a yellow cursor to chase down a red dot that
zips across the screen at random. But the monkey wasn’t
given a joystick to play. Instead, it controlled the cursor —
get this — with its mind.
Johansson writes that the research team deliberately
sought out to find an intersection of disciplines — neuroscientists, doctors, computer scientists, mathematicians. The
professor leading Brown’s brain science research efforts specifically brought together this range of disciplines.
“When we say that the Brain Science Program sits at the
intersection of mathematics and science, what we are really
saying is that the people in the program have managed to
connect these fields, and through these connections they
have come up with new creative insights,” Johansson writes.
Seeking out the intersection, he says, is about teams, organizations or individuals “associating concepts from one field
with concepts from another.”
Learn From Other Fields
The more you know about different disciplines and different
cultures, the more likely you are to connect the dots
“I’m always finding ideas from other fields,” Johansson
says. “It may have nothing to with what I’m speaking about,
but I might find inspiration or ideas. Speakers should be
doing this all the time.”
So, why does it matter?
“Exceptional speakers are also innovative speakers,” he
says. “They frequently try to innovate both their content
and the delivery of that content. Why? Because exceptional
speakers are unique. It should not even be remotely possible
for the audience to have a similar experience with another