Margaret Heffernan: "Normal should be banned as a word now"

The author and entrepreneur on preparedness, efficiency and the government’s Covid-19 response.

by Stephen Jones

Margaret Heffernan has a history of telling leaders things they don’t want to hear. The entrepreneur, consultant and University of Bath lecturer has written books and delivered TED Talks calling out leaders for not seeing what they probably should have. 

Heffernan’s latest message - detailed in the book Uncharted -  is also an uncomfortable one: Certainty doesn’t exist and the future can’t be predicted. This is despite the myth, she believes perpetuated by Silicon valley, that with enough data we can gain control over the future. 

It is that myth, the complex nature of pandemics and “cultural blindness” that left the western world so unprepared to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. We believed things like viruses happen in far flung places like Africa or Asia and were falsely reassured in our faith that efficient systems and data streams would give us time to react. 

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