Is it good to be a government heretic?

First let’s start out with a definition — what is a heretic?

“From my point of view, a heretic is someone that has a point of view about an organization and the work that is being done. But after they have expressed that idea, they’ve had it rejected. But they don’t give up. They find new ways of making it happen,” said Carmen Medina a former Director at the CIA and a strategic specialist at Deloitte.

Medina has literally written the book on being and succeeding as a corporate rebel.

She told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program about being a heretic.

Carmen was also a keynote speaker at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit.

GovLoop’s Pat Fiorenza writes of Medina’s speech:

If you are going to be a rebel…

  • Enjoy Being Uncomfortable
  • Take Good Care of Yourself
  • Optimism is the Greatest Act of Rebellion

For a manager:

  • Pick Good Rebels, Not Narcissists
  • Find people randomly and talk to them
  • Give rebels real work to do
  • Put rebels in Key Support Positions

What’s next?

  • Befriend Bureaucratic Black Belts
  • Sequence, Sequence, Sequence: Announce change agenda, give warning to change to allow people to respond.
  • Does it fit your wagon: scale correctly, make sure it fits the agency
  • Don’t Fall for the Athena Trap: Make the agreement about iteration, start small
  • Your Calendar Reflects Priorities
  • Don’t Avoid Conflict
  • Avoid the Consensus Trap
  • React Like a Running Back

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Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Depends. Are you a heretic because it furthers your image and career at the expense of the organization and your fellow workers? Or, are you a heretic because you believe in the mission of the organization and you are trying to help realign the organization back to the mission?

Even though it makes a good movie line, rebelling just for the sake of rebelling is not a good career strategy or helps your organization.