Rebel Ideas

The Power of Diverse Thinking

by Matthew Syed

Number of pages: 320

Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd

BBB Library: Creativity and Innovation

ISBN: 978-1473613911

About the Author

Matthew Syed is one of the world’s most influential thinkers in the field of high performance in the context of a complex and fast-changing world. He draws on a vast array of case studies and real-world examples across sport, business, education and politics. Matthew looks at the inside story of how success really happens – and how we cannot grow unless we are prepared to learn from our mistakes.


Editorial Review

While intelligence and skills are important, there’s another element that’s critical to your team’s success: diversity. There are many types of diversities, like demographic diversity and cognitive diversity. This summary of Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed is concerned with cognitive diversity, which is the diversity of the minds we engage with. By utilizing cognitive diversity, you can: Shed light on your blind spots, expand your expertise and generate more (and better) ideas.   Innovation entails the interference and recombination of ideas and perspectives in order to shed light on blind spots and to open the doors for new possibilities in every area of life. When you look at diversity in this way, you learn that when others disagree with you, they don’t disrupt your success, but reinforce it. You learn that divergent opinions create a dynamic society that welcomes outsiders and considers them essential for growth.

Book Reviews

"On a vital and still-overlooked topic, Matthew Syed has assembled a compelling base of evidence from a wide range of scientists. If that sounds intimidating, don't worry: Syed is a superb storyteller. I couldn't put the book down, and I learned so much. A stunning achievement."

Syed is clear that if we’re to be successful as leaders, we must free ourselves from our own/organisational blind spots and embrace critical thinking, however uncomfortable it may be. We must encourage and welcome critical dissent. The challenges of modern society demand that we find and nurture the potential in all our people and don’t just try to turn them all into a “Mini Me”.

"A gripping read, full of intelligence and perspective.Will change the way you think about success and even about life."

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Wisdom to Share

If we are intent upon answering our most serious questions, from climate change to poverty, and curing diseases to designing new products, we need to work with people who think differently, not just accurately.

If a diverse workforce, student population, or whatever, emerges organically through the pursuit of excellence, that is one thing. But to privilege diversity above excellence is different.

Groups that contain diverse views have a huge, often decisive, advantage.

Often, it is looking at what went wrong that can provide the most vivid pointers about how to get things right.

We are oblivious to our own blind spots. We perceive and interpret the world through frames of reference but we do not see the frames of reference themselves.

When you are surrounded by similar people, you are not just likely to share each other’s blind spots, but to reinforce them. This is sometimes called ‘mirroring’.

Bin Laden orchestrated his entire operation by ‘calling up images that were deeply meaningful to many Muslims but practically invisible to those who were unfamiliar with the faith’.

Groups have an inbuilt tendency to become clone.

That collective intelligence emerges not just from the knowledge of individuals, but also from the differences between them.

Group wisdom emerges whenever information is dispersed among different minds.

Evidence from brain scanners indicates that when others reflect our own thoughts back to us, it stimulates the pleasure centres of our brains.