The challenges societies face today, from inequality to climate change to systemic racism, cannot be solved with yesterday’s toolkit. Solving Public Problems shows how readers can take advantage of digital technology, data, and the collective wisdom of our communities to design and deliver powerful solutions to contemporary problems. In Solving Public Problems: How to Fix Our Government and Change Our World, Beth Simone Noveck offers a radical rethinking of the role of the public servant and the skills of the public workforce, this book is about the vast gap between failing public institutions and the huge number of public entrepreneurs doing extraordinary things—and how to close that gap.
In this interview, I speak to about how we, as public servants, community leaders, students, activists and citizens, can become more effective, equitable and inclusive leaders to repair our troubled, twenty-first century world.

Thought Economics

Dr. Maya Shankar is Senior Director of Behavioural Economics at Google and is the Creator, Host and Executive Producer of her brilliant new podcast A Slight Change of Plans which explores the question: What exactly happens when we find ourselves on the brink of change? Using her skills as a cognitive scientist, she delves into the incredible stories of a number of guests. She speaks to Tiffany Haddish on her transformation from foster care kid to Emmy-winning comedian; a former member of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church on her experience walking away from a cult; Kacey Musgraves on how psychedelics changed her perspective on art; a young cancer researcher who gets a diagnosis that changes everything; a Black jazz musician who convinced hundreds of KKK members to leave the Klan; and Hillary Rodham Clinton who was never willing to change in the way people wanted her to. In this interview, I speak to Maya Shankar about her transformation from being a musician to leading the White House Behavioural Science Team, and what she’s learned about change and transformation through her podcast, “A Slight Change of Plans.”

Thought Economics

In Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement, Nobel Prize Winner, Daniel Kahneman together with co-authors Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show how noise helps produce errors in many fields, including medicine, law, public health, economic forecasting, food safety, forensic science, bail verdicts, child protection, strategy, performance reviews and personnel selection. And although noise can be found wherever people make judgments and decisions, individuals and organizations alike commonly ignore to its role in their judgments and in their actions. They show “noise neglect.” With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions. In these interviews, I speak to Daniel Kahneman (winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and the National Medal of Freedom in 2013) and Cass R. Sunstein (Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard, where he is founder and director of the Program on Behavioural Economics and Public Policy). We talk about how noise impacts our decision making, how judgements are made, and why we need think about making decisions, much like washing our hands.

Thought Economics

Disasters are inherently hard to predict. But when catastrophe strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all. Yet the responses of many developed countries to a new pathogen from China were badly bungled. Why? While populist rulers certainly performed poorly in the face of the pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work – pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters. Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics and network science, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe offers not just a history but a general theory of disaster. As Ferguson shows, governments must learn to become less bureaucratic if we are to avoid the impending doom of irreversible decline. In this interview, I speak to Niall Ferguson about how we should think about disasters & catastrophe and how society can (and should) be better prepared.

Thought Economics

Ingrid Betancourt‘s story, her exemplary courage, spirit and resilience, has captured the world’s imagination. She is a politician (former Colombian presidential candidate) who is celebrated for her determination to combat the corruption and climate of fear which was endemic in her nation. In 2002 she was taken hostage by FARC, a terrorist guerrilla organisation. Ingrid was held captive in the depths of the jungle for six and a half years, chained day and night for much of that time, constantly on the move and enduring gruelling conditions. She was freed and reunited with her children and relatives in 2008. Ingrid Betancourt has become a global symbol of the freedom and the resistance of the human beings in the face of the most serious adversities. His struggle for democracy, freedom and peace has been a shining example of dignity and courage for the whole world. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Ingrid Betancourt about fighting corruption, her six and a half years in captivity, and what it takes to create change.

Thought Economics

In 2020 protest movements across the world revealed the inequalities sewn into the fabric of society. The wildfires that ravaged Australia and California made it clear we are in the middle of a climate catastrophe. The pandemic showed us all just how precarious our economies really are, and the conspiracy theories surrounding the US election proved the same of our democracies. So, what do we do? In Together: 10 Choices for a Better Now, award-winning political commentator Ece Temelkuran puts forward a compelling new narrative for our current moment, not for some idealised future but for right now, and asks us to make a choice. To choose determination over hope and to embrace fear rather the cold comfort of ignorance. This remarkable and timely book asks you to choose to have faith in the other human beings we share this planet with. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Ece Temelkuran about why we feel like civilisation is being torn apart, and how we can regain our dignity, our hope and our togetherness.

Thought Economics

Britain as we know it is a direct product of our imperial past. And yet, empire is barely taught at school and continues to be a subject of both shame and glorification. Covering everything from our national habits to how we live – from the foundation of the NHS, to the nature of our racism, to our economic status and our wealth – Empireland argues that imperialism is everywhere, though we often choose not to see it. It is central to the way we think and conduct politics, from the distrust of intellectuals in public life, to the exceptionalism that inspired Brexit and our response to the COVID crisis. Sathnam Sanghera’s deeply impassioned, enlightening and unsettling book demonstrates that we see that we can only truly understand who we are by knowing who we were. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Sathnam Sanghera about his new book Empireland and how imperialism has shaped modern Britain.

Thought Economics

Throughout the world, capitalism and democracy are being challenged with great force. The world must change, but we cannot change it by throwing money at old ideas that no longer work. We need a new path to a new world where inequality is shrinking, where natural resources are regenerated, and people can benefit from shared prosperity. This is the world being created by the Impact Revolution. Sir Ronald Cohen is a preeminent international philanthropist, venture capitalist, private equity investor, and social innovator, who is driving forward the global impact revolution. He is Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) (which succeeded the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force, of which he was also Chair); Chairman and co-Founder of The Portland Trust; co-Founder of Social Finance UK, US, and Israel; co-Founder of Bridges Fund Management UK, US, and Israel; and co-Founder of Big Society Capital. Each of the initiatives he leads today aims to shift the allocation of human and financial resources to creating positive impact. In 1972, he co-Founded what became Apax Partners Worldwide LLC, which he led as its Executive Chairman until 2005. Each day, he strives to live by a simple principle: Do Good, Do Well! In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Sir Ronald Cohen about the impact investment revolution, a fairer capitalist model, and how impact investors are tackling some of our world’s biggest challenges.

Thought Economics

Free market capitalism is one of humanity’s greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But this success has been costly. Capitalism is on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilising society as wealth rushes to the top. The time for action is running short. Rebecca Henderson is an economist, and one of the world’s most influential thinkers in economics, psychology, and organisational behaviour. She is the John & Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard and for more than thirty years, has worked with some of the world’s largest organisations around purpose-driven capitalism and the role that business leaders at every level can play in reimagining our current system. In her seminal book, Reimagining Capitalism, she debunks the worldview that the only purpose of business is to make money and maximise shareholder value. She shows that we have failed to reimagine capitalism so that it is not only an engine of prosperity but also a system that is in harmony with environmental realities, striving for social justice, and the demands of truly democratic institutions. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Rebecca Henderson on whether our system of capitalism is broken and what can be done to re-imagine it for a better future.

Thought Economics

James Thornton is a remarkable individual who has dedicated his life to fighting for climate and environmental justice. As a Wall Street lawyer, he won over 80 cases to force the Reagan Administration to clean up polluted water. It was in 2007, when he moved to Europe that ClientEarth was formed with a mission to change the way environmental protections are made and enforced. Now operating globally, ClientEarth uses advocacy, litigation and research to address the greatest challenges of our time – including nature loss, public health and climate change. In the last decade alone, ClientEarth has led an EU-wide law banning illegally harvested rainforest timber, setup the Sustainable Seafood Coalition, won numerous cases against governments for failing to tackle air pollution, and forced many nations and corporations to create sustainable change in their policy and strategy for the benefit of the climate and environment. James and his team use the most effective tool in the arsenal for change, the law. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to James Thornton about how we can tackle one of the greatest challenges our species has ever faced, climate change.

Thought Economics

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