I have just finished reading Rebel Ideas (2019) by Matthew Syed.

I have enjoyed a few of his other books most notably Bounce and Black Box Thinking.

In Rebel Ideas, Matthew explores the idea of diversity. As he notes ‘this is a book about diversity, about the power of bringing people together who think differently from one another,’ Page 12.

He goes on, ‘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.’ Page 12-13.

Mathew makes a profound point, ‘pretty much all the most challenging work today is undertaken in groups for a simple reason: problems are too complex for any one person to tackle alone,’ Page 14.


  • Matthew has an easy, accessible writing style that I like. Before you know it you have read 40 pages or so.
  • The examples like the theme of his book are diverse and fascinating.
  • Some of his insights are real gems – ‘We need to think of human performance not from the standpoint of the individual but from the standpoint of the group. Diversity is the critical ingredient driving what we might term collective intelligence,’ Page 14.
  • The use of visual models helped explain many of his key points with greater clarity
  • I also like the idea of talking more about cognitive diversity in a group rather than the usual discussion about diversity around age, sex, race etc. Not that this is not important but the goal is to break the pattern of seeing a problem the same way.
  • He cites Charlan Nemeth about the unrecognised positive impact of disent and minority views in any group or team. Hers is a powerful and insightful voice in this space.
  • Diversity for all its benefits also has to work hand in hand with people being open and willing to share. Otherwise you have a group of different people that cannot discuss real solutions. This requires an environment of psychological safety.

In summary, Rebel Idea by Mathew Syed is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the importance of diversity in groups and teams.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This