Margaret Heffernan, "Uncharted: How to Map and Navigate the Future Together" (Simon and Schuster, 2020)

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Today I spoke with Dr Margaret Heffernan about her latest book, Uncharted: How to Map and Navigate the Future Together (Simon and Schuster, 2020). Margaret produced programmes for the BBC for 13 years. She then moved to the US where she became a businesswomen. She is the author of six books and a successful TED Talk speaker. She is also a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath.

In her 2012 TED Talk, ‘Dare to disagree’, she told the story Alice Stewart. This is the story of how clear, certain medical data, are not always enough to change rapidly our professional rules and personal habits.

In her 2019 TED Talk she argued that the more we rely on technology to make us efficient, the fewer skills we have to confront the unexpected. That’s why we need less technology and ‘more messy human skills - imagination, humility, bravery - to solve problems in business, government and life in an unpredictable age’.

In her new book, she 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 allow that; experts in forecasting are reluctant to look more than 400 days out’.

Uncertainty is clearly an important construct in both macroeconomics and behavioural economics. This book starts with an anecdote on the early life of a great American economist, Irving Fisher. His swimming accident and the discovery of his tuberculosis contributed to the development his research interest in stability and monetary economics.

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.

Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. He holds a doctorate in Organization Theory from the University of Milano-Bicocca. He has held teaching and research positions in Italy, China and the UK. Among his research interests are the use of history in management studies, the co-operative sector, and Chinese co-operatives. He is the co-convener of the EAEPE’s permanent track on Co-operative economy and collective ownership. Currently he is associate editor of The Review of Evolutionary Political Economy (REPE)

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