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What leading figures have said about the first stage of Thinking The Unthinkable

“The research which underpins this report is excellent for the following reasons. Firstly, relevance: that is, it speaks to issues that are of existential import to its audience. Nothing is more relevant to twenty-first century society than the relentless move from one crisis to another in all parts of the world and the ability of people at the highest levels of corporate and public services leadership to be ready to spot and handle such crises while leveraging related opportunities.”

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“I very much recommend the Thinking The Unthinkable report to you.”

- Lord George Robertson, NATO Secretary General, 1999-2004

“Thanks for letting me preview the excellent work before it is published. I am sure it will go well. Makes indeed for uncomfortable reading and hopefully stimulates some action or change in behaviour as it ultimately boils down to Individual leadership grounded on a strong sense of purpose and morality. Not easy for anybody and something we all have to work on everyday.”

- Paul Polman, Chief Executive of Unilever

“Many of you in this room know Nik Gowing, the former BBC journalist. And he’s been doing some work on what he calls “Thinking The Unthinkable”, a report for the Churchill 15 Global Leaders Programme. He (and Chris Langdon) did interviews with 60 leaders, who all basically confirmed a sense that, whether you’re in public or corporate leadership today, a sense of being overwhelmed by multiple intense pressures, by institutional conformity, by kind of group think, and risk aversion. The fear for many people of career limiting moves if they are the whistle blowers when a crisis happens.”

- Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Co-Chair of the International Crisis Group

“Well, I regret to inform you that I largely agree with the views put forward in the paper. . . . .  I do recognise all the symptoms you describe. There are a number of them which worry me particularly”

- Gen Knud Bartels, Chairman, NATO Military Committee, 2011-2015

“The Thinking The Unthinkable report is particularly interesting. It talks about a “executive myopia” at the top of organisations, both business and government and a failure not just to predict what are known as the black swan events but also to understand “black elephants” issues that are always there but are not confronted,  so it’s not just Thinking The Unthinkable, the report concludes,  but not thinking the unpalatable..”

- Rachel Sylvester, Columnist, The Times

“Yes, climate change fits in to that (unpalatable) category.”

- Sir David King, adviser to the Foreign Secretary on climate change

“We need people who are able and prepared to think the unthinkable and unpalatable in government, the Civil Service and in business.”

- Ruth Kelly, former Cabinet Minister, 2004-2008

“The black swans and black elephants that the Thinking The Unthinkable report looked at are very important.”

- Michael Clarke, Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute, 2007-2015

“Internationale Politik’ carries your report. Fascinating stuff. I would love to give my students the opportunity to read your report. I am teaching a Masters course on the theme; ‘ structural change in international politics’.”

- Peter Gottwald, St Gallen University, German diplomat, 1977-2013

“I enjoyed the paper, and agree with just about all of it.  Nik and Chris have done everyone a great service by getting so many senior people to unburden themselves and then distilling it all into a compelling summary. It is quite a “dense” read (in a good way).”

- Robert Court, Global Head of External Affairs, Rio Tinto, 2009-2015

“Aside from my non-insightful comments, the report is fantastic and very interesting. Most importantly, it is 100% correct and even more so every single day.”

- Aniket Shah, Program Leader, Financing for Sustainable Development Initiative