An inspiring book about creative problem solving from the No 1 bestselling author of BOUNCE, BLACK BOX THINKING and YOU ARE AWESOME.Matthew Syed is theSunday Times number one bestselling author of Bounce, Black Box Thinking andYou Are Awesome He writes an award winning newspaper column in The Times and is the co host of the hugely successful BBC podcast, Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy Matthew is the co founder of Greenhouse, a charity that empowers youngsters through sport, a member of the FA s Technical Advisory Board and an ambassador for the PiXL educational foundation Matthew lives in London with his wife and two children To find outabout his work visit

8 thoughts on “ Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking

  1. Philip Philip says:

    This book outdoes the author s previous work Black Box Thinking It is well written full of insights and fascinating anecdotes The focus of the book is the benefit of using diversity in all its forms from culture to mind set to solve complex promlems effectively and gain competitive advantage In passing, it clarifies some mysteries For example the section on the science of diet is a new insight and sufficient in itself to justify the cover price.

  2. Big Andy Big Andy says:

    Two heads are better than one Or four heads are better than two Or a hundred heads are better than fifty Or a thousand heads are better than five hundred This is the basic message of this excellent book Having written and published books on the importance of high quality practice and training in achieving success, especially in sports and the arts, and the benefits gained by learning from failure, Syed now tackles a subject that is clearly close to his heart diversity.The premise of Rebel Ideas is that the solving of a complex problem can sometimes only be achieved by getting groups of different minded people together to work on the difficulty and then using each individual s particular talents to provide some part of the solution By combining different perspectives, insights and thought processes, sometimes even the most challenging of obstacles can be overcome.The diversity that Syed refers to in this book isn t racial or gender diversity it s what he calls cognitive diversity, i.e diversity in the way a problem is looked at, the usefulness any pre existing knowledge of the problem and the thought processes that could be used to solve the problem Sometimes this does involve gender and racial diversity in the book Syed gives a couple of examples where a woman and a Muslim man provided missing insights that aided the solutions of two difficult tasks They were able to see things that white middle class men couldn t But this book is mainly about the importance of bringing together people who think differently.The book opens with Syed retelling the dreadful tale of the 9 11 hijackings and explaining just why the CIA, whose job it was to detect and prevent such a terrible atrocity, pathetically failed the United States Its agents and analysts were almost exclusively white, Ivy league educated, Christian, American born citizens These people had failed to anticipate or appreciate the deadly threat of Bin Laden and al Qaeda because they had a massive collective blind spot when it came to understanding the mindset and capabilities of the terrorists Crucial insights and enlightening alternative perspectives could only be provided by people who came from a world that was closer to that of the bad guys A lack of diversity had led to an awful tragedy At the end of the book Syed tells the encouraging story of how, in later years, a Muslim CIA member was crucial in identifying and assessing the danger of a key al Qaeda member That terrorist was subsequently eliminated in a drone attack, probably saving many lives Cognitive diversity worked.But this book explores the usefulness of diversity in solving many different types of problems, from political and social to scientific and sporting ones Syed himself had first hand experience of the benefits of cognitive diversity when he was asked to be part of a team that was tasked with explaining why the England soccer team had so badly and consistently under performed over the last half century The group were deliberately made up of people who were not ex soccer players or managers instead people from the world of table tennis Syed , Rugby, the British Army, the high tech business world and cycling were assembled The idea was simple and clear if you want to solve a complex problem then you need people from the outside who can provide fresh and diverse perspectives, insights and thought processes Groups of people who all think in the same way whom Syed disparagingly referes to as clones often fail to solve problems, and sometimes make them worse.Syed also explores the barriers to cognitive diversity, the main one being hierarchy In the business world in particular diverse opinions are often either drowned out or not even aired because of the fear of conflict with people higher up in the food chain In the book Syed tells the tragic story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, which could have been avoided had lower ranking members of the climb spoken up and shared their knowledge By keeping quiet they helped cause a catastrophe that was avoidable Homophily is another obstacle to effective cognitive diversity Our natural tendency to want to associate with people who look like, think like and act like we do can deprive us of the benefits of diversity This was the reason why the CIA was stuffed with the same type of people, and look what happened there.My favourite chapter of the book was Beyond Average It explained the subtle but beautiful point that although we live in a world where everybody is trying to average everybody and everything out, there s no such thing as average Each one of use is unique But by adjusting and making allowances for our various differences maximum performances can be attained from each one of use Our uniqueness can be positively employed The section on how modern research is proving that each one of us requires our own specifically tailored diet was very interesting The chapter on innovation was also very interesting too Recombination is a process where two or branches of science are combined to produce dynamic and fresh ideas and inventions This is the epitome of cognitive diversity people bringing different ideas together and creating something original.The book ends with Syed contending that the massively elevated rate of human evolution compared to other creatures on this planet is the result of this cognitive diversity that humans had the unique ability to share both genes and knowledge That s why we have such large and developed brains I don t agree with him there are plenty of other socially tight knit animals on this earth that haven t developed huge intellects, and many of them have been around a lot longer than we have The reason why only mankind is so smart is probably the greatest mystery of this world.But I absolutely loved this book Syed does here exactly what he did with Bounce and Black Box Thinking he provides a stimulating and thought provoking argument concerning an important facet of human existence This was a very interesting read If you are involved in the management of a business or organisation then you may find this book very useful Its ideas were extremely refreshing.

  3. Bob Bob says:

    Matthew Sayed is a great magpie of other people s ideas without ever having much of an original thought himself This is an entertaining pop science book in the mode of Malcom Gladwell but there are plenty of better books out there from credible sources if your really interested in the central theme of this book Social Physics by Alex Pentland Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, from researchers, Principles by Ray Dalio Thirteen Days by Robert Kennedy by Practioners to name a few.

  4. johnnie pavey johnnie pavey says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the very start to the very end It is both gripping and insightful and I learnt a lot from it It worked on so many different levels providing thought provoking stories that apply personally, at work and to society as a whole A fascinating book I would highly recommend it.

  5. J Adams J Adams says:

    Fascinating book with clear narration of real events and how so much was missed by a lack of understanding of the importance of perception, and unwritten social rules The sort of book that anyone in a leadership role should read.

  6. S. Gale S. Gale says:

    For me, this is one of those rare books that really delivers on its promise I was hooked within the first couple of pages It was well paced throughout I ended up reading it in a couple of sittings Although the material is well researched, it is the narrative throughout this book that makes it outstanding It helps to pull all of the threads together and carry you along with it The ideas are well presented and I found it very thought provoking it is one of those books that stays with you long after you have finished reading it Highly recommended.

  7. David White David White says:

    I have read all of Matthew Syed s other books so had high hopes for this one It did not disappoint I couldn t put it down It is packed full of gripping stories which are used to carry the central message about the power to thinking differently It encourages individuality and having confidence in your own views Just brilliant.

  8. Customer Customer says: