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Tim Harford Inspires at TED

19th July 2011

As TED Global winds down for another year, Speakers Corner looks back on some of the most inspiring events in Edinburgh. One of the most popular talks was by Economics writer Tim Harford who studies complex systems - and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error.

Harford's writings reveal the economic ideas behind everyday experiences, and in this talk he asked his audience to embrace their randomness and start making better mistakes!

In his Undercover Economist column in the Financial Times, Tim Harford looks at familiar situations in unfamiliar ways and explains the fundamental principles of the modern economy. He illuminates them with clear writing and a variety of examples borrowed from daily life.

Harford argues that the world has become far too unpredictable and complex for today's challenges to be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions. Instead he suggests that we should learn to embrace failure and to constantly adapt, to improvise rather than plan, to work from the bottom up rather than the top down.

He says: "I’d like to see many more complex problems approached with a willingness to experiment."

Harford, who resolves problems in a weekly ‘agony aunt’ column, and presents BBC’s Trust Me I'm An Economist, also explained that leadership is highly valued but hard to measure.

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