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A Work of Art

Creating a business masterpiece takes a palette of different ideas.

This story appears in the December 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Want the next great idea in business to be yours? Put together a team of people with differing ideas, viewpoints and experiences. Consultant Frans Johansson studied successful idea-generators from business, science, the arts and elsewhere and found that cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary combinations were far more effective at producing revolutionary insights than lone inventors or groups of people with like backgrounds.

In The Medici Effect (HBS Press, $24.95) Johansson expands on this observation by showing how to overcome problems and improve the results of idea-generating campaigns. To expand the range of your ideas, for example, try assumption reversal: Start with a fact about a business, and reverse it. Do all restaurants have menus? Assume that your restaurant has no menus, and see where it leads you. The book's title is inspired by the Renaissance-era Italian family that sponsored Leonardo da Vinci. If you can't read it and come up with at least a minor Mona Lisa or two, you're not trying.

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