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4.4 out of 5 stars
60
4.4 out of 5 stars
Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious
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on 8 July 2011
I heard Margaret on the Radio and was enticed to buy the book. I have taken ages to read it as I keep reading a section and then stopping to have a good think. It is so thought provoking, well written and well researched. I have 80 pages to go and am going to see if I can make them last till her next book comes out
Enjoyable, fun interesting and have got at least four friends to get it and read it
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on 20 October 2014
Wilful blindness implies that deception depends on self-deception.
Once we appreciate that we allow inertia or the easy way to rule our lives, then we may reconsider if that is what we really want to do with our lives.
But because we are part of society, even self-critical and independent persons may find themselves dragged along by the huge inertia of institutions.

Heffernan uses many interviews or at any rate appears to do so, by looking at personal dilemmas from the viewpoint of those faced with them.
Her business experience is well placed to give insights into the
financial disasters that still beset ordinary people. And she draws from many other occupations examples of how organisations knew all along things were wrong and yet they did not know, because they were never brought out into open debate and dealt with.

Heffernan draws from explanatory research from areas such as
psychology and neuroscience to explain irrational behavior.
And she celebrates the unsung heroes who didnt always go with the
crowd but made a difference, often at great personal cost.

A wise reading of this work might help the reader to see better ways of life. More self-awareness and more social awareness are among the gifts this work offers.
Not just a great book or even an important book but perhaps a vital book to address the frailty of the human condition.
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on 6 April 2011
Wilful Blindness is the kind of rebel-rousing and illusion-breaking book one used to come across from left-wing think tanks spouting -isms. Except Heffernan is on the other side, so to speak - an internationally respected business-woman who writes from her own experiences, and most definitely gives the impression of walking the talk. The book contains a catalogue of data from psychological experiments, for example Miligram's obedience tests (1974), which it could be argued, have been at the margins of management training courses rather than their central core. Heffernan is a critical organisational thinker with a philosophically engaging style who seeks to challenge attitudes to ignoring the obvious (normalisation) and sees it as a duty of every employer to recognise the talent buried within organisations often ignored out of not chiming with the conventional.

The nub of the book is about uncovering the uncomfortable, the uncertain and uneasy and investigating the structural blindness of 'group-thinking' (Janis). A 'balanced bias' is finally proffered through a number of constructive management techniques, which aim to achieve a far healthier organisational state.

In combining the author's not inconsiderable business ventures with a critical commentary of morally reducing management practices, Heffernan illuminates the causes celebres of corporate crime, for example, the Maddoff Ponzi scheme investment scandal (2008) becomes grist to her mill of being suckered by the influence of social networks. Like a modern-day Cassandra, we learn that it is the despised and those frustrated with baffled rage who know most, but won't necessarily be heard or set us free without positive alignment.

One might get the impression then that there is no way out of the collusional and subtle-handed persuasions of structurally blind organisations. With the gravitational directional pull of the status quo so conspiring as to prevent open dissent, "awkward and provactive truths" rarely if ever get aired. A rather alarming finding then is to discover that those with the most potential to shape our fortunes, the better-off and dominant, are the more likely to have their heads buried in the sand with regards to foreseeing the detail of their consequences - the so-called 'Ostrich Instruction'.

Heffernan's psychological traps are broken down into headings that resemble the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not over-rely on affinity and love, indulge obedience and conformity, be content to be a bystander or diffuse responsibility through distance and division of labour etc. A rather stern warning is given to the over-zealous following of monetary rewards that reinforces egoistic self-worth - a prime cause of unresponsiveness to alternatives and argument, as evidenced in the recent financial crisis.

The overall conclusion reached, however, is that organisational weaknesses stem mostly from personal deceptions - of a mind wanting to be as comfortable and consistant as any creature of habit. It takes a lot of self-understanding and a giving to a personal freedom of thought to develop a conscience, and unfortunately this is hindered in the often expressed agenda of a social conscience seeking to fit in. "Thinking without a banister", as Arendt so beautifully described it, is such a mission critical task as to be taught at all opportunities and reading this book goes some way to developing enlightened judgement. The material in deliberation might be as age-old as the human condition, but a new reminder to remove the blinders and keep them off when one is not invited to ask or disconfirm, is not such a bad thing!
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on 28 April 2015
I was recommended this book but I don't think that person can have read it or else is being wilfully blind to it's message in the present!

Interesting examples but I found I skip read in places....a sure sign that some editing was needed. The end came without real analysis or conclusions.

However I did read to the end, it was OK
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on 1 December 2011
This was given to me by a friend and I started to read it only to humour here as I can't stand self help books. This is an intriguing and fascinating book. It has allowed me to understand many things about the way that society functions and quite a few about the way that I function. I have purchased it for others
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on 4 September 2011
This is a book well worth reading. Margaret Heffernan does a great job in alerting us to the very human drive to see things the way we want to based on our need to conform to the group, respect authority and block out that which is uncomfortable requiring us to go through the pain of change. It is recommended to all those who work in organisations, including CEOs, as well as individuals in how we cope with the challenges of life. I am sure that there are individuals who know far more about the psychology than I do but I found this book extremely helpful and I would recommend it to anybody. It is a mix of science, psychology and part novel in that Margaret uses real life and well known stories to explain her approach making it very easy to read and understand. Well done Margaret. You will not be disappointed if you decide to read this book, honest!
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on 2 April 2011
I bought my copy after hearing Margaret Heffernan speak on a radio programme. Using many known, and less well known theories and findings from the worlds of psychology and business the author sets about de-mythologising the most commonly held truths of individual and in-group behaviour.
It is very well written,(literate - sic), enjoyable and challenging.
I would suggest that anyone concerned or reflective of their own behaviour or the behaviour and functioning of groups/organisations will find it of real interest.
Readers who don't normally buy books concerning business theory (myself included because they are largely badly written tosh) might want to order a copy as a this book has lessons that can be applied to many contexts.
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on 20 December 2013
This is a powerful book that has a lot to say to people worried about how we tackle climate change and global warming issues, and how we tend to hope for a miracle cure or fix for our coming climate problems and sea level rises rather than face facts and get deep into not only mitigation but adaption as well. While it is not a cli fi novel at all, but a nonfiction study of human will and lack of will, Heffernan's book should be on every climate acitivist's desk worldwide and it's on mine now at Cli Fi Central blog spot in Taiwan. This book is vital. Bravo to Ms Heffernan for an important contribution to the climate debate pro and con!
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on 7 April 2016
Excellent text that illustrates how we all can turn a blind eye to that which we do not want to admit, acknowledge, deal with. Sadly, that blindness has cost many lives
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on 18 December 2012
Anybody who thinks outside the box and can't understand the sheep mentality that appears to be all around them will fu=ind thia book invaluable. I have identified an intervention that is unneccessary and I believe (and mounting evidence is showing) is causing irreversible harm. The antipathy, disbelief and resistance to change are baffling but so well explained in the covers of this book. It has helped me in that I realise there are many who have walked this path before me and have had very similar treatment and this is documented wirth numerous examples.
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