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Monocle interview: The inspiration behind TtU

by Carley Bowman

Nik Gowing, TtU Founder and Director, joined Georgina Godwin on Meet The Writers @Monocle24 to discuss what inspired the Thinking the Unthinkable project and share our findings.

Nik describes how he and fellow Director and co-author Chris Langdon had conversations with hundreds of senior global leaders about the challenges they faced. They revealed they were scared and overwhelmed by the disruption and pace of change.

Nik and Chris were astonished at how frank leaders were. They realised this was a very profound challenge for people at the top. The words that came through were fear, scared, overwhelmed and short-termism. And in 2018, more and more leaders talk of the need for diversity and inclusivity.

The TtU findings reveal that the conformity which gets leaders to the top in many ways disqualifies them from understanding the scale of disruption and change.

Many talk about a rise of populism - particularly in Europe. Nik describes it as ‘push-backism’. Many citizens are fed up with the system. Most leaders are not prepared to accept that.

He says leaders need to have courage and humility. Many of the Next Gen are anxious and frustrated about leadership. They don’t like what they see and this is becoming an existential threat to governments and corporates.

But Nik says it’s not about being pessimistic or fatalistic. Leaders must be realistic and find a new way of leading. The message is that you can still be a great leader. It’s about encouraging people to thrive on change.

You can hear the full 30 minute interview on

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