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Interview with Frans Johansson – Keynote speaker for drupa cube

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An author, entrepreneuer and internationally acclaimed speaker, Frans Johansson is the definitive authority on how diversity drives innovation and creativity. His debut book, The Medici Effect, introduced the concept of intersectional innovation.

As a thought leader, Frans has advised executive leadership from some of the world’s largest companies such as American Express, IBM, MetLife, Microsoft, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Volvo. He has worked with startups, venture capital firms, government agencies and universities around the world.

Interview with Frans Johansson, CEO „The Medici Group“

Frans Johansson
When your book “The Medici Effect” was published in 2004 it became a bestseller. What is the key message?

Frans Johansson: The key message of “The Medici Effect” is that we have the best chance of finding groundbreaking innovation when we step into the intersection of different industries, disciplines, cultures, backgrounds, etc. In other words, embrace diversity—of thought, perspectives, experience, expertise—to drive innovation.
This concept of the Medici Effect was inspired by the Medici family in Florence, whose patronage of artists, architects, scientists, philosophers helped bring about a new age of creativity, discovery and innovation in Europe, the Renaissance.

Can you imagine why this message is so popular – especially in the Anglo-American world?

Frans Johansson: I don’t know if the message is more popular in the Anglo-American world or whether it seems that way as the book is likely more readily available and read there. Some of the strongest responses to this message have come from individuals in China, India, Italy, Turkey. What readers and audiences have said to me sums it up best: People are genuinely intrigued by the notion of combining very divergent ideas to create something new and exciting. Plus, the Medici Effect allows them to bring all aspects of themselves into the mix, not only their academic and professional credentials but also their hobbies, interests, experiences. There’s a balance here, in a world where our careers increasingly define our identities.

The printing industry has to face fundamental challenges. Why is intersectional thinking so important for the printing industry?

Frans Johansson: Intersectional thinking means questioning assumptions about your industry, looking to the unexpected and even the illogical for inspiration, and calling on those outside the industry to help address your most pressing challenges. Every industry has its rules, its best practices; if the industry doesn’t challenge these itself, someone else will. Just ask TV industry, Detroit and the airline industries. They found themselves challenged by the likes of Netflix, Tesla and Virgin and Jetblue.

From your point of view, why should a drupa visitor or exhibitor visit the drupa cube?

Frans Johansson: You have pulled together an incredible lineup of speakers and sessions. In particular, you are highlighting some of the most important shifts in printing, and anyone who wants to have deeper insight into the trends and evolutions in the industry should spend some time at the drupa cube.

The program in the drupa cube includes round 60 presentations and keynotes featuring many different topics. Do you have a special recommendation?

Frans Johansson: Great question! It is a packed 10 days. I would of course highly recommend the Innovation@the Intersection sessions being led by my colleague Ryan Van Echo. We’ve designed these to be interactive and showcase how stepping into the intersection can drive new ideas and thinking. In addition, I find the “Choose Sustainability” and “Talent is The Key to Success” sessions to be very intriguing. Sustainability is a universal challenge for so many industries, while talent (also applicable to all industries) is so critical to an organisation’s innovation capacity.

Johannes Gutenberg and Lorenzo de Medici both are children of the 15th Century. Do you see any parallelism between these two influencers and great personalities who have been so important for the development of human culture?

Frans Johansson: There is definitely parallelism between these two influencers. At the simplest, they both had impact on books, learning and the dissemination of ideas. Johannes Gutenberg by his printing press and Lorenzo de Medici by his continued additions to the family’s Laurentian Library. I also find it interesting that Gutenberg’s printing press spread religious materials that helped propel the a religious reformation while Lorenzo’s support of humanism and classical study ultimately challenged religious beliefs as well.

Is there anything that you personally are especially looking forward to at the upcoming drupa?

Frans Johansson: It’s been a while since I was last in Dusseldorf, but I am looking forward to a fantastic Düsseldorfer Senfrostbraten!
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