John Bordeaux

Veteran, analyst, consultant, grandfather – applying insights from complexity science, organizational theory, and information science (trying) to advance the public sector mission.

What has been your most notable rebel accomplishment or experience?

When I began my graduate school journey, I remarked that I could probably finish the degrees without ever setting foot in the library – because of all the resources available via online means. Seven years later, with a Master’s under my belt, I walked into the GMU library for the first and last time to deliver my dissertation: so that it may be stored on microfiche.

When did you first realize that you are a rebel?

When I was hired at a company by a boss who knew me from a previous life. His first words to me: “Now don’t go trying to fix this place. I know you.”

What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?

Don’t climb, lift.

What is your favorite rebel characteristic?

Embracing ambiguity. If this appears in your resume, and I’ve seen a few that lead with it, you have earned the interview.

What’s your favorite question?

Let’s step back, what are we not seeing?

What one clue tells you you’re effecting positive change?

When I hear an executive embrace an idea previously rejected or ignored.

What do you think it’s most important for people to understand about rebels?

This isn’t a personal agenda, in fact we know we are committing career-limiting moves. But we can’t help ourselves – and diversity of thought is essential to organizational survival. If you listen, it’s a win-win. Net-net.

What’s your one word piece of advice for rebels?


What’s your one word piece of advice for non-rebels?


Where do you think rebels are most needed today?

At the clay layer of firms – where middle management prevents information and ideas from penetrating up or down.

Who is your favorite rebel from the past 100 years?

Carmen’s already used Billy Mitchell, who destroyed decommissioned Navy vessels because no one would believe bombers could do that without being shown. Just awesome. But I must choose another. Muhammad Ali.

“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

What’s the one thing you should never say to a rebel?

“It is what it is.”