Margaret Heffernan
Margaret Heffernan's Speaking Fee $40K - $70K

Margaret Heffernan

CEO and business thinker Margaret Heffernan challenges the most common business practices that make us feel comfortable - but leave us in the dark.

CEO, Entrepreneur, Author and Columnist, Financial Times

Expertise In:

  • Business Growth and Trends
  • Change Management
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Business
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • The Professional Services Industry
  • The Finance Industry
  • Corporations
  • Board Meetings and Executive Briefings

CEO and business thinker Margaret Heffernan challenges the most common business practices that make us feel comfortable - but leave us in the dark.

The biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don't see—not because they're secret, hidden or invisible but because we aren't prepared to face them. That's how good, smart people running companies find themselves blindsided by market changes, technological disruption, cultural problems or criminal behavior. In her groundbreaking work, Heffernan examines the social, psychological, neurological and organizational reasons why it is so hard to know what is going on in your company, your industry and your world. And she explores why some people seem to be able to see better than others and what makes some organizations perspicacious. As a former CEO herself and the author of Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, she knows that crises are rarely provoked by the proverbial bad apple. What's more likely is that people and structures conspire to hide from leaders what they most need to know. And she explores the processes that can make your organization smart, resilient and successful. In A Bigger Prize: How the Can DO Better than the Competition (2014), Heffernan explored ways of living and working that foster creativity, spark innovation, reinforce our social fabric, and make for sustainable success. In Beyond Measure, published by TED in 2015, she explored the small changes that can make a big impact on culture and productivity. In 2020, UNCHARTED: How to navigate the future, examines why so much of life has become unpredictable and how individuals, communities and companies can adapt to a world in which preparedness replaces planning.

Featured Videos

Margaret Heffernan's Speech Topics

UNCHARTED: How to navigate the future.

The time horizon for accurate prediction is now 150 - 400 days out. Which means that the 3-legged tool of management (forecast-pal-execute) is broken. But that need not leave us helpless. Individuals and organizations can find in uncertainty the creativity, ambition and robustness they need to stay meaningful and important in the world—but only if they’re prepared to rethink core concepts like efficiency, planning and strategy. Ineradicable uncertainty may be the defining characteristic of our age and it requires a new kind of leadership, from everyone.

In this presentation, you will learn:

  • What makes forecasts reliable—and unreliable
  • The value of experimentation
  • Holding the tension between responsiveness and long term thinking
  • How preparedness beats planning

Two For One: Seeing Risks/Seizing Opportunity

Big data, market research, social media: we can know more than ever and yet we keep missing the most important trends, information and trends. Why? What makes companies and individuals willfully blind?

Pulling together a century of psychological, industrial and economic research, Margaret Heffernan argues that willful blindness is the biggest risk most organizations face. But the good news is that those companies that confront the issue don’t just reduce their risk; they also make themselves inherently more creative and collaborative. It’s a twofer: when you see more, you can make more and risk less.

In this provocative presentation, you will learn:

  • What blinds companies to their risks
  • Why most employees don’t share their knowledge
  • How companies can kill creativity—or stoke it
  • The power of noticing and acting on what you see
  • How diversity can make companies smarter

The One Firm Firm

After years of streamlining and hunkering down to weather the crises, what companies now most need to do is pull their people together. Collaboration and innovation are vital skills in global business—but where do they come from? How do leading companies get the alignment, trust and energy they need to get their people to work well together? What are the impediments to, and habits of, creative collaborative teams?

Working across cultures, time zones and technology is logistically difficult but it’s usually the human factors that make it hard for companies to achieve their aims. Everyone talks about collaboration but few know how to do it, what it feels like or what organizational structures enable—or disable—it. What they all know is that if they can’t figure out how to do it will, others will.

In this presentation you will learn:

  • The meaning and characteristics of collective intelligence
  • The business case for collaboration
  • Incentives that make people pull together
  • What gets in the way of teamwork
  • How great leadership teams function

Works by Margaret Heffernan

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Margaret Heffernan

Naked Truth (opens in a new tab)

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Margaret Heffernan

How She Does It (opens in a new tab)

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Margaret Heffernan

A Bigger Prize (opens in a new tab)