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'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.


Photograph (c) Robert Taylor

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, chief executive, and author. She was born in Texas, raised in Holland, and educated at Cambridge University. She worked for the BBC and developed interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors, and The Learning Company. She has served as Chief Executive Officer for InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. The author of Beyond MeasureWillful Blindness, and A Bigger Prize, among others, she blogs for HuffPostCBS Moneywatch, and

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (March 1, 2020)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471179785

'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

‘Excellent (and very timely).’   

– Gillian Tett, Financial Times

More books from this author: Margaret Heffernan