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Shape the Future of Learning: Bring Your Best Rebel Self to Work


Mon Dec 08 2014

Shape the Future of Learning: Bring Your Best Rebel Self to Work


I rebel; therefore we exist. – Albert Camus 


The most subversive people are those who ask questions. – Jostein Gaarder (Sophie’s World) 

Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within challenges readers to create ways to improve, change, and innovate their organizations. L&D and other talent professionals can take inspiration from the book to help us be more successful in our own work lives, as well as those we strive to support. Indeed, nurturing our inner rebels may just help us improve the continuous cycles of learning and adapting that organizations and people require. 

In 150 pages, Rebels at Work delivers an abundance of ideas, tips, and examples for gaining credibility, communicating ideas, navigating the organizational landscape, managing conflict, and dealing with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Ultimately, authors Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina illuminate how rebels can bring good ideas forward in organizations. More important, they offer guidance on how to move beyond organizational fears and misunderstanding about the rebel mind, which often make leaders miss the innovative ideas these important messengers convey.   

While the book’s pragmatic advice targets challenges in today’s corporate arena, it also resonates loudly for those working within government organizations. Learning professionals can garner sound advice on behaviors that will help them understand the broader organizational landscape, navigate political and bureaucratic traps, and examine—and avoid—reasons previous innovation efforts failed to drive their organizations forward. For instance, the section on demonstrating “what’s at stake” can aid L&D professionals in articulating stronger rationales for specific projects, as well as an enlarged vision for the future of learning within agency missions and across public service. 

To be sure, much of Rebels at Work is relevant to the experiences of federal employees—as tabulated in OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Kelly and Medina target many practical facets of rebel life in organizations helpful for those looking for the best paths forward on a journey toward improving agency processes and outcomes, including:

  • controversy is necessary for change

  • solve problems worth solving

  • be familiar with what worries your boss

  • expect people to say no

  • focus on the “what”

  • know your “give up” line

  • work is not more important than people

  • restoring your resiliency

  • rebel fears and rebel mistakes

  • avoid bad rebel behavior

  • hone in on change that really matters.  

Bottom line: Government workforce development and learning needs successful “changemakers” now more than ever, so endeavor to bring your best rebel self to work—and be a messenger of innovation and improvement for your agency and colleagues.   

P.S.  And don’t neglect to share the Rebels at Work’s section, “Give This Chapter to Your Boss,” with your supervisor or any member of your executive team. It will help them distinguish between good rebels and bad rebels—and can advance collective learning!

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