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Why the World Needs More Rebels

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

"Where have all the rebels gone?"

Throughout history, the curiosity and spirit of rebels have sparked change. Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and many others changed the world with their nonconformist views, and the world is a better place for it. But businesses also need rebels. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, among others, revolutionized the corporate world not only with their products but also with their approach to running their businesses. Rebels they certainly were.

But why are rebels so scare? Organizations have better outcomes when they encourage some nonconformity yet most are designed to reward conformity. Employees feel the need to conform because it makes them feel accepted and part of the group. As Charlan Nemeth contends in her book In Defense of Troublemakers " Most people are afraid and they don't speak up. The research really shows us that, even if it's wrong, the fact that the majority or the consensus is challenged actually stimulates thinking."

So how do companies create an environment where rebels thrive... an atomosphere where performance, collaboration, and innovation thrive when employees don't feel the pressure to conform? Gustavo Razzetti makes these suggestions:

- Make it safe to be a non-conformist: encourage employees to speak up without the fear of retaliation.

- Allow people to be themselves and exercise their own creativity and problem-solving.

- Encourage people to break the rules, to speak up when everyone else stays silent.

- Fail smart: regard mistakes as necessary for growth and learning.

- Turn constraints (time, budget, resources) into a superpower: creativity can boose innovation.

- Encourage positive and constructive conflict among employees.

- Innovate from the fringes and include everyone in this new mindset.

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