Innovation Explored as AIHce Kicks Off 2013 Conference

Thousands gather to kick off AIHce 2013 with a keynote session.

MONTREAL -- The American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo 2013 opened with an insightful and inspiring keynote session led by acclaimed entrepreneur and best-selling author Frans Johannson. This year's conference and expo began Monday morning as thousands of occupational health and safety professionals packed the first session to hear Johannson's lecture, "The Medici Effect: Groundbreaking Innovation at the Intersection of Disciplines and Cultures."

Johannson welcomed professionals from numerous countries, and the Harvard and Johns-Hopkins educated CEO, who has been featured on CNN, ABC, and CNBC, engaged the audience with humor and real-world application for his methods in the health and safety industries. The topic of the morning was ways for companies to retain innovation in today's markets. According to Johansson, the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company in the past has been 25 to 35 years. "However, reflective of the changing times, today,the average life's chance of breaking new ground, of coming up with new insights, when we combine wildly different concepts, concepts from different disciplines, different fields, different industries, and different cultures,” Johannson said. "And new insights, innovation, in fact, is critical for your success."

Johansson discussed the 10,000 hour rule: the belief that if an action is performed for 10,000 hours, one will become the best at it. But, according to Johannson, that doesn't apply to the business world, a concept often applied to professional athletes. Johansson used a tennis player for example. The rules in tennis rarely change. However, in business things are more influenced by randomness and serendipity, rather than tireless practice. But does that render strategy useless? According to Johansson, strategy is often useful in a way that we would not predict. Creating a strategic environment for innovation may just help a company stay ahead of changing trends.

“The Medici Effect,” explored in Johansson's book, is a concept that uses the powerful, historical, Florentine Renaissance family as a model for innovation. They often sponsored highly creative individuals from various disciplines, including artists, philosophers, writers, and more.

"You see a strong correlation between innovative success and the number of ideas that you generated and try to make happen," Johannson said. He shared three concepts that drive innovation: 1. All new ideas are really a combination of old concepts. 2. People that change the world try far more ideas, because it is difficult to predict what will work. 3. Diverse teams can unleash an explosion of new ideas.

"As soon as you start combining these different disciplines, you're unleashing an exponential increase of ideas," Johannson said.

AIHce continues this year with daily educational sessions that can be attended online for those who were not able to venture to Montreal. Also, the conference, lasting from May 20-23 at the Palais des congres de Montréal, hosts more than 250 exhibitors in the expo hall. For more information on AIHce, visit the event website at

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