Exchange Programme

In addition to your Leadership Exchange, this page provides stimulus around responsible leadership as well as exercises from the core Forward Institute programme for you to take back to your organisation.

Below are a selection of talks and videos intended to start conversations around responsible leadership:

  • Margaret Heffernan on Wilful Blindness. Margaret is one of our Lead Faculty and the concept of wilful blindness in organisations is key to the Forward Institute programme. Here she is discussing her thoughts on the TED stage and she has also written a book on the subject (see below). Wilful Blindness is the act of deliberately ignoring an ethical problem which is too challenging or disturbing to confront.

  • Amy Edmonson on Psychologically Safe Workplaces. Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson discusses the importance of psychological safety in the workplace for groups working with high inter-dependency and a lot of uncertainty.


  • Man’s Search for Meaning - Victor E. Frankl. Written by a Holocaust survivor and professor of neurology and psychiatry, possibly the most profound book on dignity, choice, the human condition and the meaning of life.

  • Re-inventing Organisations - Frederic Laloux. Still one of the most radical and readable books about organisations and big change - and source of inspirational case studies like Buurtzorg.

  • Hired - James Bloodworth. Journalist James Bloodworth’s story of being ‘embedded’ for six months as a zero-hours worker is vital reading. Not only working in the gig-economy but living in the same places and conditions, he shines a light on work that denies dignity as well as security to increasing numbers of people.

  • No Turning Back - Rania Abouzeid. A collection of individual stories from Syria, gathered by Rania Abouzied through 6 years of immersive reporting. This book puts many human faces on the suffering and bravery, the moral and political complexity of the war. Seen as an enemy by Assad, she focuses on the wide and differing accounts of those in the anti-regime opposition.

  • The Innovators - Walter Isaacson. The story of those who made the digital revolution - described as defining story of our era, told lucidly, thrillingly and – because the bright ideas generally occur to human beings with the quirks, flaws and foibles that accompany overdeveloped intellect – above all, amusingly.

  • Factfulness - Hans Rosling. Ten instincts that keep us from seeing the world factfully, ranging from the fear instinct (we pay more attention to scary things) to the size instinct (standalone numbers often look more impressive than they really are) to the gap instinct (most people fall between two extremes). With each one, he offers practical advice about how to overcome our innate biases.

  • Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood. 15 years old but still with the power to unsettle, a novel about a bioengineered apocalypse and short-term scientific gains outstripping long-term responsibility. As Atwood explains, the questions at the heart of the book are: “What if we continue down the road we’re already on? How slippery is the slope? What are our saving graces? Who’s got the will to stop us?”

  • Peacemakers: 6 months that changed the world - Margaret MacMillan. History at its best. The story of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, when for six extraordinary months the city was at the centre of world government as the peacemakers wound up bankrupt empires and created new countries. This brings to life the personalities, ideals and prejudices of the settlement brokers. 101 years later and still lessons for today.



Below are a suggestion of podcasts on a range of topics which you may find interesting.

  • Ear Hustle. Ear Hustle brings you stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it. The podcast is a partnership between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist. The team works in San Quentin’s media lab to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny and always honest, offering a nuanced view of people living within the American prison system.

  • Planet Money. The economy explained. Imagine you could call up a friend and say, "Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy." Now imagine that's actually a fun evening.

  • The Joe Rogan Experience. There are so many episodes of this it’s almost overwhelming but it’s a rare podcast in that the conversation is free-flowing and the guests varied. Worth a listen.

  • What it really takes to change the world - Anand Giridharadas. Political analyst Anand Giridharadas reveals how the global elite's efforts to ‘change the world’ simply preserve an unjust status quo. A call to elites and citizens alike to build stronger institutions to make fairer progress.

  • RSA Podcasts. RSA podcasts featuring the voices of the world’s leading thinkers on topics ranging from education, design and creativity, to politics, philosophy and economics

  • The 9 podcast interviews I learned the most from in 2018 - Ezra Klein - A brilliant list of Ezra Klein interviews. Top of the list is the session with the Michael Pollan and is definitely worth a listen.