Thinking The Unthinkable is a rollng, ongoing, dynamic investigation into why leaders have been unable or unwilling to anticipate the biggest issues and upheavals in this new era of acute disruptiuon. Nik is Founder and Co-Director.


TtU’s ongoing research and thought leadership is constantly updated and shared on its website Thinking The Unthinkable.


The project’s aim is to help leaders understand the threats and opportunities in the new era of radical uncertainty and disruption so they can survive and thrive. Its focus is on the human capacity to change and overcome conformity. It requires a new mindset, culture and behaviour. 


TtU’s original research is based on hundreds of top level interviews and conversations with corporate and public service leaders, plus hundreds more conversations with a new generation of aspiring leaders.


The rate and scale of change is much faster than most are even prepared to concede or respond to. As the massive, disruptive impact of COVID-19 has confirmed, the core challenge is how to lead a company and government departments through the speed and nature of fundamental upheaval to all we take for granted.


This threatens the very conformity which has qualified the current leadership cohort for the top. COVID-19 and the climate emergency are the latest ‘unthinkables’ to test leadership's skills to innovate and transform at high speed


The findings were published as a book, 'Thinking The Unthinkable: A New Imperative for Leadership in a Disruptive Age'.


It reveals now many top leaders  are ‘scared’ and ‘overwhelmed’. Case studies highlight new positives, plus how smart leaders win through by taking big risks. Many can learn from them


To order a copy of the book please click here. 



Praise for Thinking The Unthinkable:


"This is an amazing piece of work! Giving a copy to every world leader would be a good place to start."

- Miroslav Lajcak, former President of the UN General Assembly and former Foreign Minister of Slovakia


"I can say very genuinely that what you're working on is hugely important."

- Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund


"This book is timely, scary and important."

- Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, Co-Founder, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk


"I have been talking to Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon throughout the four years that this book has been in the making. I did not know how it would turn out - and I suspect, neither did they. At the start I wondered whether it would be mainly a cry of warning that we must think differently. It has become much more than that. It shows us how to begin to do our thinking differently. We owe them a great debt."

- Lord Nicholas Stern, Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics 


"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 every day."

- Paul Polman, Chief Executive of Unilever (- 2019)


"The report absolutely rings true, in so many dimensions, with my career experience. It's a long time since reading something made me reach for my pen and notebook virtually every page. This report did."

- Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost at University College London. 


"I very much recommend the ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’ report to you."

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


"The 'Thinking the Unthinkable' report is particularly interesting. It talks about an '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



"Your contribution was outstanding and was a large part of what made it so successful. I cannot thank you enough for taking on the challenge and for turning it into such a success"


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