Rebel Talent. When rebelling against the status quo becomes an asset

22 June 2018

Every day, each of us takes on average 35,000 decisions. Some of these important, weighted with judgment and attention, others so marginal as to be liquidated by our brain with standardized solutions. The routine and the conformism to the environment that surrounds us are primordial mechanisms that allow us to function as human beings, but when they also take possession of our critical and creative part, they become our worst enemy. Our, and of the companies in which we work.

Francesca Gino, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and expert in decision-making and leadership, recently gathered in her best seller Rebel Talent the result of 10 years of research on more than 2,000 workers from organizations all around the world. Her study explains, through numerous concrete examples and scientific researches, how a fair amount of employee rebellion leads to an increase in productivity, creativity, innovation and to a greater engagement with the company.

Rebels have a bad reputation. We think of them as troublemakers, outcasts and contrarians, but in truth rebels are also those among us who change the world for the better with their unconventional outlooks” says in her book * Francesca Gino, who will be our guest during the BBS Graduation 2018 & XII Reunion. Rebel talents, understood as those who challenge the status quo, looking at the world from different perspectives, are in fact also the theme of the XII Reunion of the BBS Alumni, chosen to celebrate the courage and ability of our former students to bring diversity, innovation and divergent thinking to the sectors in which they operate.

The research conducted by Professor Gino shows that 50% of the workers interviewed feel obliged to a certain degree of conformation at the workplace, a result that does not change much even among the management. Companies, in fact, are conservative by nature, while leaders have for decades been focused on designing efficient processes to be followed by their subordinates. However, it is precisely the presence of independent thinking that stimulates the creativity of a working group. The constructive nonconformity, as Professor Gino calls rebel behavior that benefits organizations, brings great benefits both in terms of performance and innovation.

In our daily life we tend to prioritize information that supports our beliefs and to ignore others that challenge them. In this way, however, we find ourselves neglecting the inputs that could stimulate positive changes in our way of thinking, developing new ideas and acting. The rebel talents are therefore those who have a marked inclination to step away from the cognitive and behavioral models of the majority. In Francesca Gino’s study they are identified through the talent for novelty, curiosity, perspective, diversity and authenticity.

Promoting the constructive nonconformity in companies is not only useful but necessary in a world that is constantly looking towards the future, where the competitive advantage of companies goes through the creativity and proactivity of its employees and collaborators. Giving workers the total responsibility for their work and processes, encouraging them to ask and question the decisions dictated by the routine, widen their horizons by multiplying the points of view, and giving voice to those who disagree with the majority, are just some of the possible strategies to create stimulating and efficient working environments, where people can feel co-creators and not mere executors.



* Gino, F. (2018). Rebel Talents. New York, Dey Street Books. 


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