Margaret Heffernan

Author - Willful Blindness, A Bigger Prize

About Margaret

Bio

Education: M.A. Cambridge University; honorary doctorate from University of Bath Professional Career: 13 years at the BBC, producing radio and TV drama and documentaries. Managing Director, IPPA. Managing Director, Marlin Gas Trading. Chief Executive Officer, InfoMation; Chief Executive Officer, ZineZone Corporation; Chief Executive Officer, ICAST Corporation. Author: The Naked Truth, A Working Woman's Manifesto (2004) How She Does It: How Female Entrepreneurs are Changing the Rules for Business Success (2007) Women on Top (2009) Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril (2011) - finalist for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book of the Year; A Bigger Prize: How we do better than the Competition (2014.)

TED Conferences

TEDGlobal 2013, TEDGlobal 2012

Areas of Expertise

Speaking. Writing. Playwriting. Business. Entrepreneurship. Tech

An idea worth spreading

If we were better at managing conflict, we wouldn't be so afraid of it. If we were less conflict averse, our eyes would see more, our ears hear more and we would widen and enrich the people and ideas we were prepared to engage with. Most people have far more creativity, skill, knowledge, insight and energy than they ever tap - because they are afraid of the conflict their fierce identities might provoke. But when we overcome that fear, we discover instead our great capacity for innovation and change.

I'm passionate about

Honesty. New ideas that make work joyful. The glue between people that makes them stronger, better, braver and more creative. Mistakes that change what you see. Fierce collaboration.

Universities

Cambridge. Bath.

Talk to me about

Courage. Creativity. Music. Hope. The role that business can take as a force for good. John Updike. Complexity. Humility. Wilful blindness. Mistakes. Powerlessness.

People don't know I'm good at

Singing classical music. Directing plays.

My TED story

About to be written...

Comments & conversations

163921
Margaret Heffernan
Posted about 1 year ago
Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree
I completely agree Daniel. We have a real problem that most employees are searching for what they hope to be the 'right' answer - which means the answer their manager will like. Much of the education system is geared towards this.
163921
Margaret Heffernan
Posted about 2 years ago
Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree
Whistleblowers by definition are those who go outside an organization, typically because they have failed to get attention internally to the problem they've identified. So there is already a failure, on one side at least and often on both. The important point here is that many issues can be fixed internally but only when organizations are prepared to listen and individuals know how to articulate their concerns. Both are essential - but when they're present, whistleblowing is unnecessary. I do think it's important to note that the many whistleblowers I've talked to, regardless of what has often been a traumatic experience, are immensely proud of what they have done. In some cases, it has led them to understand their own values and skills more highly than ever before. Moreover, if we console ourselves with the idea that truth tellers are always punished, that becomes a kind of consoling fiction, which allows us to remain cozy inside our own silence and lack of courage.
163921
Margaret Heffernan
Posted about 2 years ago
Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree
I referenced whistleblowers as cranks because that is almost always how they are portrayed -- but it is not at all what they are or how they see themselves. There's a chapter on whistleblowers in my book which is very clear that they are mostly extremely loyal, dedicated employees who raise issues because they care deeply about their organizations and want them to do great work. They are turned into whistleblowers only when those organizations refuse to listen. I'm very sorry if I conveyed the impression that I thought they were cranks -- quite the reverse!
163921
Margaret Heffernan
Posted about 2 years ago
Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree
What an interesting insight.One of the challenges the diversity movement has faced is that companies may work hard to bring in a diverse bunch of people - but the culture homogenizes them. Leaders have to work hard to prevent this happening; they often mistake silence for agreement when in fact it is just submission to the norm.