Why Success Always Starts with Failure

Publisher: Anchor Canada
The Undercover Economist - famed for his explanations - now offers solutions.

Tim Harford introduces a new way of thinking about how to solve the world's most urgent problems, from climate change to terrorism, African poverty to global finance - even the problems we encounter in our own daily lives. When faced with such challenges, we instinctively look to leaders, experts, and gurus to provide us with pre-chewed solutions. Harford argues that the world has become too unpredictable and complex for that. Instead, we must adapt - improvise rather than plan, work from the bottom up, take baby steps.

Adapt draws on exciting new work by passionate young economists and on innovative ideas from across the sciences. It looks at how and why innovation really comes about, extolling the value of trial and error and arguing that we should learn to embrace failure. Above all, Adapt applies hard-won lessons learned in the field, from a spaceport in the Mojave Desert to the street of Iraq, from a blazing offshore drilling rig to the frozen tundra of Siberia. The book shows that it's up to individuals - us - to change the world.

From the Hardcover edition.


‘The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.’
– Friedrich von Hayek
‘Cross the river by feeling for stones.’
– attributed to Deng Xiaoping
1 ‘You...
Read More


The Undercover Economist’s latest, winning theory is that making mistakes helps people to succeed. . . . This is an excellent book. . . . utterly compelling.”
The Sunday Times (UK)
“Intelligent exploration that draws thoughtful conclusions on highly complex world events. . . . [Harford’s] claims might not be as decisive as his American contemporaries—also riding the wave of popular economics—but they are more robust and as a consequence more significant.”
City A.M. (UK)
“A novel approach to problem-solving.” 
Big Think

“Terrific new book. . . . Harford is a gifted writer whose prose courses swiftly and pleasurably. He has assembled a powerful combination of anecdotes and data to make a serious point: companies, governments and people must recognise the limits of their wisdom and embrace the muddling of mankind.”
Financial Times

 “[A] wealth of fascinating case studies.”
The New York Times (The 6th Floor)

“Persuasive new book. . . . [Harford] knows how to deal with complicated subjects in lay terms, gracefully holding a line of accessible elucidation without veering into patronising oversimplification. . . . Harford’s invitation to a fireside chat in No 10, if not issued already, cannot be far off.”
the Guardian (UK)
“Harford’s case histories are well chosen and artfully told, making the book a delight to read. But its value is greater than that. Strand by strand, it weaves the stories into a philosophical web that is neat, fascinating and brilliant. Like the best popular science, it advances the subject as well as conveying it, drawing intriguing conclusions about how to run companies, armies and research labs. . . . It would be hard to improve Harford’s outstanding book.”
“A very good read. . . . open, clear and persuasive.”
Management Today (UK)
“Conjures inspiring visions of redemption from the wreckage of failure. . . . an interesting guide for determined and open-minded entrepreneurs.”
Mortgage Strategy (UK)

From the Hardcover edition.