Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed

Summary

  1. This book is about diversity, about the power of bringing people together who think differently (and accurately). In a complex world with emergent properties, diverse views help arrive at better solutions, insights, and questions 

Key Takeaways

  1. Perspective blindness – we have trouble seeing the frame of reference we live in (DFW water). Diverse perspectives can help make these frames of reference more visible. When the group is too homogenous, this blindness compounds – you not only stay in your frame of reference and it’s associated blind spots, but your certainty increases
  2. The beard and campfire anecdote – American intelligence agencies discounted the threat Bin Laden posed because they saw his dress, appearance, mannerisms, and location to be backwards. However, people more familiar with the Muslim faith and culture more clearly saw the symbolism and meaning behind all of it. Homophily feels good and is easier, but doesn’t lead to the best solution as often as having diverse groups. In addition, it’s not just that you get to better answers, it also allows you to see options you hadn’t before
  3. You want individual competency and collective diversity
  4. When a strict dominance hierarchy is in place, teams led by jr leaders performed better on average than when Sr managers were in charge. Those lower on the hierarchy were afraid to say anything which cost more than the knowledge brought by the senior leader. You need to try to balance hierarchy and diversity this will give you a variety of perspectives and some decisiveness. Diversity when evaluating opinions, dominance once executing
  5. Recombination of ideas is everything. It is better to be open to ideas and sociable than the greatest of geniuses. Creativity and connections
  6. Tyranny of averages – too often the average truly doesn’t exist and is a dangerous fallacy
  7. When compared to great apes, the only standout mental skill we have is social learning. We can observe others and immediately absorb and mimic. This is what allows our culture to compound
  8. In a collaborative works, givers outperform in the long term by wide margins

What I got out of it

  1. Diversity when evaluating opinions, dominance once executing. Creativity + Connections leads to Magic