'An urgent read … Karl Popper for the 21st century' Robert Phillips, former CEO, Edelman EMEA and author of Trust me, PR is Dead 'Heffernan is ... a deft storyteller. Uncharted is ... wise and appealingly human' Tim Harford, Financial Times
How can we think about the future? What do we need to do – and who do we need to be?
In her bold and invigorating new book, distinguished businesswoman and author Margaret Heffernan explores the people and organizations who aren’t daunted by uncertainty. We are addicted to prediction, desperate for certainty about the future. But the complexity of modern life won’t provide that; experts in forecasting are reluctant to look more than 400 days out. History doesn’t repeat itself and even genetics won’t tell you everything you want to know. Ineradicable uncertainty is now a fact of life.
In complex environments, efficiency is a hazard not a help; being robust is the better, safer option. Drawing on a wide array of people and places, Margaret Heffernan looks at long-term projects developed over generations that could never have been planned the way that they have been run. Experiments, led by individuals and nations, discover new possibilities and options. Radical exercises in forging new futures with wildly diverse participants allow everyone to create outcomes together that none could do alone. Existential crises reveal the vital social component in resilience. Death is certain, but how we approach it impacts the future of those we leave behind. And preparedness – doing everything today that you might need for tomorrow – provides the antidote to passivity and prediction.
Ranging freely through history and from business to science, government to friendships, this refreshing book challenges us to resist the false promises of technology and efficiency and instead to mine our own creativity and humanity for the capacity to create the futures we want and can believe in.
MARGARET HEFFERNAN is one of the UK's most highly regarded thought leaders. She mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations, and is Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute's Responsible Leadership Programme. An entrepreneur, CEO and keynote speaker, she is the also author of five previous books: Beyond Measure, A Bigger Prize, Wilful Blindness, Women on Top and The Naked Truth. The best-selling Willful Blindness : Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril was named one of the most important business books of the decade by the Financial Times, and was shortlisted for the FT Business Book Award 2011. In 2015, she was awarded the Transmission Prize for A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn't Everything and How We Do Better, described as "meticulously researched…engagingly written…universally relevant and hard to fault." Her TED talks have been seen by over eleven million people and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes. Born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University, Margaret worked in BBC Radio for five years where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned documentaries and dramas, and has herself written five plays. She was named one of the Internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter in 1999, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. Her 'Tear Down the Wall' campaign against AOL won the 2001 Silver SABRE award for public relations. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath, and continues to write for the Financial Times and Huffington Post. Visit http://www.mheffernan.com/ or follow @M_HeffernanWatch: Human Skills We Need in an Unpredictable WorldTEDSummit2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (February 20, 2020)
Length: 368 pages
'Heffernan is ... a deft storyteller ... Bad "smart thinking" books offer 2x2 matrices and jargon; good ones offer theory and evidence. Heffernan steps outside the caregory entirely. She wants us to engage with the particularities of people, places and the problems they faced – to empathise with them, reflect on our own lives and our own careers, and to draw our own conclusions. Uncharted is ... wise and appealingly human.'
– Tim Harford, Financial Times
‘I have never read anything quite like Uncharted. I was captured on page 1 and captivated to the very end. My whole idea of what the future might hold, the impotence of most forecasting, sagas of amazing acts of preparedness. She shook core beliefs and made me look at the world—and myself—differently. It doesn't get any better than that.’
– Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence
'An urgent read … Karl Popper for the 21st century.'
– Robert Phillips, former CEO, Edelman EMEA and author of Trust me, PR is Dead
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