FT Business Book of the Year

Best business books

All the books listed for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan

Uncharted

In this book, Margaret Heffernan turns her attention to a topic that absorbs most business leaders — and the rest of us too: how to think about what the future holds. Gazing into the future is not fruitless, she argues, but it is unnerving and hard work. Lazy and fearful, we are far too quick to reach for overblown gurus, or misleading data or other useless guides. — Read the complete FT review

Synopsis

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, 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.