Tag Archive for: Francesca Gino

Featured Expert Francesca Gino: On Rebel Talent, Culture and Ethics

Featured Expert Francesca Gino on her new book Rebel Talent


Your new book, Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life was just published! Congratulations. First off, what defines a rebel? Traditionally the word connotes someone going against the grain without a care towards consequences but here it is used as a positive with beneficial consequences.

We have a very particular idea of what the rebels of the business world look like. It is an idea that hews to the myth of Steve Jobs: Creative, yes, but control freaks who create chaos and are difficult to have as a boss or an employee. In my research, though, I have found that there are many people who break rules in ways that are positive and productive. We can learn from them: their lives are especially rich and rewarding. But the big surprise is how much organizations stand to gain. We live in a world that is ever changing, and rebels are masters of innovation and reinvention. Encouraging the right kind of rule breaking is what today’s workplaces need to do to adapt. 

I discovered the power of a particular kind of rule breaking at the business-process-outsourcing division of the Indian IT company Wipro. The call center perfectly exemplifies the rules-based approach to modern service work. After all, a job well done is a job that follows a script. In an experiment, my colleagues and I had some of Wipro’s new employees take 30 minutes during their initial training to think about what was unique about them, what their strengths were, and how they could bring out their authentic selves in their jobs. Once on the job, these employees found ways to tailor their jobs so they could be their true selves, bringing more of themselves into the way they answered calls, for example. They performed better, and were more likely to stay at Wipro. Businesses have all sorts of rules that tell people how to do their job, from standard procedures that need to be followed, detailed chains of command, with rules on what to wear or how to talk to customers. The way these rules specify how people should get their work done prevents them from bringing to the company their biggest assess: themselves.

Going off script does not mean not doing the job. Think of the famous Southwest safety announcements, like this one by Marty Cobb, a Texas-based flight attendant: “My ex-husband, my new boyfriend, and their divorce attorney are going to show you the safety features of the Boeing 737 800 series.” She earned giggles from the passengers, but she also got their attention. When Ed Catmull, President and cofounder of Pixar Animation Studios, talks to new employees during their initial orientation, he tells them about bad choices and mistakes the company has made in the past as a way to stress that the organization is not perfect, and that their ideas and voice will be valued.

2016 Collaborators in the News: A Year of Many Achievements

2016 was a year of many achievements for our growing collaborator network. We invite you to browse a highlight list of the research, articles, appearances and talks that helped advance our mission and promote a greater understanding of ethics, decision making, and ethical systems design.

Browse our collaborators and their highlights and achievements from this year >>

A Lesson for Ethics Professors: Focus on the Positive

Guest post by Adam Waytz, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern

Are ethics professors unwittingly encouraging a pessimistic attitude towards business ethics? In October of last year, many of the country’s top business school deans and faculty members gathered at the New York Federal Reserve Bank for a discussion titled, A Convening of America’s Business School Leaders and Faculty: Ethics in the Classroom. The meeting’s purpose was to spark dialog between business schools and the financial industry on how to teach ethics.

Much discussion centered on ensuring students know the legal consequences of white collar crime to discourage unethical behavior. Yet, another attendee, University of Chicago Booth behavioral science professor and Ethical Systems collaborator Nick Epley (who happens to have been my graduate school advisor), proposed a more thoughtful- and yes radical- idea: Ethics professors might do well to highlight more examples of good behavior than bad behavior, promoting images ethical heroes rather than villains.

Featured Collaborator of the Month: Francesca Gino

Interview with Francesca Gino, social scientist, author of "Sidetracked" and professor at Harvard Business School

What are your main areas of research? 

Most people want to behave in ways that are consistent with their self-image as competent, effective, and honest human beings. Yet, even when they are fully committed to acting according to their best intentions, they often reach outcomes that bear little resemblance to their initial goals. Why do people often get sidetracked? This is the question I focus on in my research. My research is organized around two conceptual themes: the study of why people fail to follow through on their intentions of being 1) honest, and 2) competent or effective.

2014 Highlights from Our Collaborators

2014 was a busy year. Here are some of the highlights from our collaborators. Dan Ariely’s work on cheating and honesty is being turned into a documentary called (Dis)Honesty: The Truth about Lies Max Bazerman has a new book called…

Collaborators in the news for October

COLLABORATORS IN THE NEWS David Mayer was featured in The trouble with diversity initiatives in the Wall Street Journal and Why workplace diversity efforts struggle in Fortune, both of which site one of his forthcoming papers.  He…