In an extraordinary conversation about a world that has moved from complicated to complex, Dr. Margaret Heffernan discusses her latest book – Uncharted – How to Map the Future Together.
Margaret produced programmes for the BBC for 13 years. She then moved to the US where she spearheaded multimedia productions for Intuit, The Learning Company and Standard&Poors. She was Chief Executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation and then iCast Corporation, was named one of the “Top 25” by Streaming Media magazine and one of the “Top 100 Media Executives” by The Hollywood Reporter.
The author of six books, Margaret’s third book, 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. 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 twelve million people and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes. Her most recent book, Uncharted: How to map the future was published in 2020.
She is a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath and continues to write for the Financial Times and the Huffington Post.
[3:15] With Margaret’s diverse career, the one common theme that connects it all together is her passion for creativity.
[5:10] You can’t measure a lot of things, and in the business world, what can’t be measured gets “thrown out.” However, critical skills like creativity are essential and not easily measurable.
[7:35] There’s such a pride in efficiency in business. It’s been this way since the industrial revolution.
[12:35] Margaret agrees with Jim and Jan that the leaders she’s seen are naturally curious people.
[15:10] Margaret shares some of the “soft” characteristics needed to get a team stronger and better than before.
[18:00] Successful teams need to invest a lot of time getting to know one another.
[21:20] People are more afraid of losing power/control than accountability in a team.
[22:35] The more frightened an employee is, the worse they’ll perform, and they certainly won’t be creative. Organizations are still using these outdated fear tactics.
[25:55] Margaret wished someone had told her in her younger days, “to not take it personally,” especially at the beginning of her career.
[26:55] Something might be personal, but if you respond to it like it isn’t, then you’re in a much better position.
[29:25] Reality TV really skews reality. It’s geared to show us the worst ways to team up.
[31:50] When you act like a superstar, you end up alienating everyone who could have made you a superstar.
[34:25] If you’re the person who speaks all the time in meetings. Just keep quiet during one of them and observe what happens.
[38:00] Most organizations sit inside a vast ecosystem that you do not have any influence over. That doesn’t mean you’re absolutely helpless in your career, though.
[42:10] We are currently sitting in an inequality crisis and an unemployment crisis. We have to think long-term or else we won’t survive.
[44:55] You can think about impact and likelihood, but you can’t actually put physical numbers or “data” against it because it won’t mean anything when the final result comes.
[48:35] Listener challenge: Contribute greater than you consume.
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Quotable Quotes“It’s like we can’t believe anything unless we’ve measured it.” Click To Tweet “Many of the things we need the most are fundamentally immeasurable.” Click To Tweet “Creativity is immeasurable.” Click To Tweet “What can you tell me that I don’t know?” Click To Tweet “We’re so keen to control things that we reduce them in our own heads.” Click To Tweet “I think we have to recognize in a team, part of what you owe to the team is bring something that no one else in the team has. That’s how the team gets stronger.” Click To Tweet “At the beginning of one’s career, and when one is young, everything is personal. When you don’t take it personally, you’re in a position to respond so much better.” Click To Tweet “Hyper-competitive people generally do very poorly in life. They do poorly because they don’t make friends, they don’t have allies, and they generally don’t fit into networks.” Click To Tweet
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- Website & Margaret’s recent book, Uncharted: Mheffernan.com
- @M_Heffernan on Twitter
These are the books mentioned in our discussion with Margaret