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Wilful Blindness

Why We Ignore the Obvious

Fully revised and updated since its first publication in 2011 to encompass further appalling instances of wilful blindness: Grenfell Tower, Carillion, Harvey Weinstein, Windrush and many more

‘Entertaining and compellingly argued’ Sunday Times
‘A tour de force of brilliant insights’ Philip Zimbardo
‘A polemic against the dangers of docility and "groupthink" in every walk of life' Books of the Year, Financial Times
‘Writing in clear, flowing prose, Heffernan draws on psychological and neurological studies and interviews with executives, whistleblowers and white-collar criminals' New York Times
'An engaging read, packed with cautionary tales ... Heffernan shows why we close our eyes to facts that threaten our families, our livelihood, and our self-image – and, even better, she points the way out of the darkness' Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind​

Why, after every major accident and blunder, do we look back and ask, how could we have been so blind? Why do some people see what others don't? And how can we change? Drawing on studies by psychologists and neuroscientists, and from interviews with business leaders, whistle blowers and white collar criminals, distinguished businesswoman and writer Margaret Heffernan examines the phenomenon of wilful blindness, exploring the reasons that individuals and groups are blind to impending personal tragedies, corporate collapses, engineering failures even crimes against humanity.

We turn a blind eye in order to feel safe, to avoid conflict, to reduce anxiety and to protect prestige. It makes us feel good at first, with consequences we don’t see. But greater understanding leads to solutions, and Heffernan shows how – by challenging our biases, encouraging debate, discouraging conformity, and not backing away from difficult or complicated problems – we can be more mindful of what's going on around us and be proactive instead of reactive.

Photograph (c) Robert Taylor

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 (April 4, 2019)
  • Length: 448 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471180804

'Heffernan presents a readable analysis of the way powerful and intelligent people deliberately set aside crucial facts and turn a blind eye to fatal errors and frauds. A polemic against the dangers of docility and "groupthink" in every walk of life, it was another finalist for Business Book of the Year.'

– Books of the Year, Financial Times

'Writing in clear, flowing prose, (Heffernan) draws on psychological and neurological studies and interviews with executives, whistleblowers and white-collar criminals...the book made me think long and hard about how the pace and priorities of our daily lives can hinder our ability to live as decently and as truthfully as we can.'

– New York Times

'An engaging read, packed with cautionary tales...Heffernan shows why we close our eyes to facts that threaten our families, our livelihood, and our self-image - and, even better, she points the way out of the darkness.'

– Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

'Willful Blindness is a remarkable book...It is a tour de force of brilliant insights, broad span applications and written in the most engaging style.'

– Philip Zimbardo

'Uniquely broad in scope, insightfully analyzed, and engagingly written. This in-depth look at willful blindness is an excellent read.'

– Albert Bandura

'Entertaining and compellingly argued book.'

– Sunday Times Supplement

'Heffernan's cogent, riveting look at how we behave at our worst encourages us to strive for our best.'

– US Publishers' Weekly

‘My eyes are now open to the many ways we all choose not to see reality even when it is painfully obvious. Why do we choose to turn a blind eye to the truth? . . . Heffernan clearly asks the important questions about why we delude ourselves.’

– Forbes

More books from this author: Margaret Heffernan