Do lateral thinking and rebellion promote innovation in companies? – Book review “Rebel Talent”

Cambridge (Massachusetts) | Innovation is essential for businesses. Behavioral researcher Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School, presents in her latest book “Rebel Talent. Why it pays to break the rules at work and in life” shows that, according to her analysis, great inventions are almost always based on disregarding rules. The rule breakers, who do not rely on adaptation in school, profession, behavior, clothing and ideology, have a bad reputation. Such rebels would not bow to social pressure to the same extent, which would bring with it a great potential to be used by companies.

According to Francesca Gino, formal and informal rules are necessary in every company. Extreme conformity, however, would entail many dangers. This would lead to contradictions among employees, who would put true preferences and convictions on the back burner, creating a sense of a lack of authenticity. There is also the problem that those companies that are too status-quo are merely relying on tradition, which hampers the commitment of the workforce as well as innovation and performance. Even more devastating, however, according to author Francesca Gino, conformity ultimately leads to biased decisions that make a critical and neutral decision impossible in business and elsewhere. Nonconformity, on the other hand, improves a person’s performance and reputation as the person stands out from the crowd and feels unique, which further boosts creativity.

According to Francesca Gino’s conclusion from the analysis, companies depend on meeting rebels in order to be optimally positioned for the future. Because rule violations often help more than they harm, for example by leading to higher economic success or higher employee satisfaction. She then illustrates this observation with observations from a fast food chain, an Indian call center and a computer animation studio, for example. Last but not least, there is also an instruction manual on rebellion. Francesca Gino, on the other hand, does not answer how rebellion can be established in the company in a meaningful dose. It is not unlikely that adaptive learning systems will be well received by “rebels” and could promote this potential.

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