Rebel Ideas

Author: Matthew Syed

Reasons to read:

  • There is a lot of content aimed at how to recruit for and manage an effective team.
  • The core idea of diversity being essential to successful teams is an interesting concept to discuss with classes.

Key notes:

  • Leaders should switch between dominance (only displayed when implementing a new strategy) and prestige (empathetic and leading by example). Prestige causes people to volunteer loyalty to a leader and allows them to speak up with their true opinions and ideas. Dominance suppresses team members from speaking up meaning that good ideas are withheld.
  • Starting meetings with a well written agenda (in narrative form) where all team members read it silently is good in two ways. It makes the leader think carefully about their proposed agenda and it also allow team members to decide upon their opinions before hearing each others’. When discussion does commence, the most senior person should speak last.
  • To create something new is to recombine separate good ideas.
  • History’s greatest minds were so because their network incorporated the majority of other great minds in their era. Collective intelligence is key.
  • Success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people. Do we claim as much value as possible? Or, do we also contribute value?
  • Honest dissent is not disruptive, but imperative. Team members who will constructively criticise during meetings or privately are invaluable to a team.
  • Cultures that encourage new ideas, foster dissent and have strong networks through which rebel ideas can flow, innovate faster than those held back by intellectual conformity.
  • Creating teams of people from diverse backgrounds means the collective team will view ideas from many different contexts.


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