Former CEO turned blogger explores the reasons why we don’t or won’t see what we should.
In a brisk, easy-to-ready foray into vast interior territory, Heffernan (How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success, 2007, etc.) ranges broadly in examining willful blindness in its many forms, all potentially ruinous to people, companies, even countries. The author suggests we overlook the obvious for love, for ideology, out of sheer fatigue or an abundance of riches. Often, those with blinders are happy to follow orders, scared to stand up to power or lulled into oblivion by the comfort of the familiar. Her cast of villains is ripped from recent headlines; Heffernan cites culpably oblivious Kenneth Lay of Enron, incurious Bernie Madoff investors and negligently aloof BP executives as prime examples of her hypothesis. As the book progresses, the author warns that the repercussions of ignoring the obvious have already lead to the near-collapse of the global economy, and extols readers to take heed of the approaching havoc that will result from our collective inattention to climate change. There is little in these pages a reader with a liberal education doesn’t already know, but the author provides a fresh retelling, as well as a call to arms to any whistle-blowers who see what lies ahead and have the courage to speak up. We need more of these people, writes the author. Not a bolt of lightning, but a sharp-eyed perspective on the ever-gathering storm.