The Rebels at Work story started in October 2010 at the   when I (Lois Kelly) heard Carmen Medina, the just-retired deputy director of intelligence for the CIA, talk about how she was part of an informal Rebel Alliance of employees at the CIA, and how challenging assumptions helped two rebels at the agency create the Intellipedia, a groundbreaking approach to intelligence that was awarded a Service to America national medal.

As a lifelong rebel, I was immediately struck that an executive would have the guts to help rebels.

I also began wondering how innovation and change happens in big organizations. You hear about innovators in start-ups all the time. Rebelliousness and restlessness are accepted qualities of entrepreneurs. But what about people on the inside of big organizations? How do they blaze new trails and find ways to change business as usual. What are their characteristics? What makes them tick? How do you find them? Could they be an untapped resource for creating more innovative, engaged corporate cultures?

I did a quantitative research study in 2011 to try to find some answers to these questions. The research found that rebels provide huge value to organizations, but most corporate cultures make it difficult for rebels to provide that value.  Then I wrote a presentation -- Free Your Rebel Thinkers -- that people downloaded more than 100,00 times, confirming a hunger for practical ideas on how to navigate bureaucracy, challenge the status quo and introduce new ideas without getting thrown under the bus.

From there Carmen and I started writing about and talking with Rebels at work around the world -- and sharing what we're hearing and learning on this site and through our social media channels.  We hope you find some useful ideas and would love to share YOUR ideas with the community.

Lois Kelly:

Carmen Medina:


Not troublemakers

Rebels are for positive change vs. troublemakers. And they don't go it alone.