By @SimonCocking. Review of Powerhouse – Insider accounts into the world’s greatest high performance organizations by James Bowen and Brian MacNeice, co-Managing Directors of Kotinos Partners. Available from Amazon here.

Why are the New Zealand All Blacks the best rugby team in the world? How does the Kirov Ballet produce generation after generation of exceptional ballerinas? How did Southwest Airlines evolve from being an idiosyncratic Texan airline to become one of the most successful businesses internationally? How does the Finnish School Education System deliver great results by breaking conventions? Powerhouse uncovers the performance secrets of some of the most impressive organizations around the world and reveals the key principles they have in common to enable any business to raise their own bar.

This is an interesting book because it analyses a wide range of succesful organisations. To begin with Grameen Bank is a good way to suggest there are going to be some less common observations. Grameen Bank is of course globally known, but perhaps not so much in all business circles. They have had fantastic success in reaching the ‘unbanked’ and achieving extremely high (usually over 97%) repayments of micro loans to the very poorest in Bangladesh and beyond. These are stories well worth telling, and all the more so if they help to inspire others around the world. The bank was created to be for – profit, rather than a charity, however it’s profits have then been ploughed back into the business.

After here there are further slightly unusual stop offs to the Curtis Schools of Music, the Kirov Ballet, MSF, as well as perhaps more expected organisations like Southwest Airlines, Toyota and the US Marines. Interestingly too they also look at the Finish state school education system, which is well worth including. See their guest post on that chapter here.

Empowering good people to make smart decisions: How Finland leads the way in education

It was informative to include the Mayo Clinic, as this was one I knew by name, but not what they did. Across all of the organisations the authors attempt to analysis what the common themes are, and the relevant takeaways for the reader. The All Blacks chapter was good, and yet perhaps also a reminder, after their recent historic defeat with Ireland, that great teams rise, fall, and get outwitted sometimes too. There are a lot of good insights in the book, and it probably makes sense to go back and review individual chapters based upon what is most relevant and applicable to your own sector and organisation. Having the confidence to focus on your own path certainly seems like a common trait in the organisational ethos of all of those studied.

Probably one of the better, most readable business books we have reviwed in 2016.


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