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The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World's Largest Private Company

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Praise for THE SCIENCE OF SUCCESS "Evaluating the success of an individual or company is a lot like judging a trapper by his pelts. Charles Koch has a lot of pelts. He has built Koch Industries into the world's largest privately held company, and this book is an insider's guide to how he did it. Koch has studied how markets work for decades, and his commitment to pass that ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 2007)
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  677 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: I have done business with Koch Industries for over 30 years. The copy of this book was given to me by a Koch employee. It is the only publication by Charles Koch I have ever read.*Note: I have since read another Charles Koch book Good Profit which I have reviewed as well.

Forget all the vituperative broadsides against the Koch brothers, the accusations of their funding the Tea Party, the cover story on Bloomberg Markets, Charles Koch is a genius when it comes to business. He had to ha
Scott Fabel
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do some consulting for one of the Koch Industries companies, Invista. I taught a course at its Wilmington, DE facility and then again at its headquarters in Wichita, KS. I was struck by the incredible ways in which the employees treated me--and each other! While in Wichita, I learned a lot more about Koch Industries and its business philosophy. I happened to visit the company story while in Wichita, and I saw that the CEO had written this book. I knew th ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was interesting and clearly had good ideas. But like most business books, I found it maddeningly vague. Maybe it's the lawyer in me that wants careful definitions of everything, even when they are unwise or impossible. But I still feel like I am missing something when I read most business type books. This is no exception. That said, his holistic approach to business largely makes sense and has clearly worked well.
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it
I borrowed this book from a friend because I have been looking into many private companies. Koch Industries is the largest private company in the world.

First of all, I really enjoy books that seem to be working with general wisdom, applicable to any sector of society or society at large. I have enjoyed the Jim Collins books for that reason but I really liked Koch’s idea of studying history, economics, philosophy and more to develop his ideas of building a strong company. Actually Michael Polanyi
Kent Say
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: management
Interesting, obviously coming from a highly successful and thoughtful man.
If you are looking for evidence of a crazy man that doesn't share the values of most Americans trying to subvert our form of government through a covert takeover of the republican party there are other books that cover that topic. Why can't he be both?

Not enough meet here to be able to actually draw that many useful things from a management perspective.

Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fast read but a good one. It is easy to understand and filled with helpful principles. I'm looking forward to learning more about it. What they do at KII works and I have seen how Charles Koch's Market-Based Management transfers over to the non-profit. It really creates an exceptional environment to work in.
Benji Visser
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
A 150 page pamphlet to bid current Koch employees to keep shares in Koch.

Some really vague business advice on continuous improvement.

The one thing I took away is that large businesses spanning many thick verticals are interesting beasts.

I agree a lot with this review:
Chris Ouyang
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Upon writing this review, Koch Industries is actually the US's second largest private company, behind Cargill. Like Cargill, most people have no idea what Charles G. Koch's Koch Industries does. However, Koch Industries is, perhaps, the world's most maligned private company; whether that's entirely justified or wholly not depends on who you ask. Regardless, it is living, breathing evidence of the successful business philosophy detailed within The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management B ...more
Tony Hsieh
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
fast read, not super well written, but the concepts presented in the book are great
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My company gave me this book and we actually had "book club" at work where we discussed the principles this book discusses and how to effectively use those approaches in our respective areas. I worked in one of the companies that Charles Koch built using these ideas. I found this book to be encouraging and helpful as I made the decision to go back to school full time for my career focus shift to biomedical engineering.

This book really explains the philosophies that Koch Industries adheres to an
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I had the privilege of hearing Charles Koch speak at a conference and regardless what you think of his politics, he’s brilliant. I met his head of innovation on separate occasion and she told me about MBM and I wanted to learn more. Unfortunately this book is too high-level. Compared to Ray Dalio’s step-by-step “Principles”, this book falls short of being practical. I am grateful for reading it though as it introduced me to Michael Polanyi’s work.
Matthew Nguyen
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I find it a really good book. I actually read this book while taking an organization communication class and a lot of the theories and methods of communication is in this book. Koch actually takes these theories and innovates them to fit the need of his business. The best thing though about it is that it doesn't just apply to business, it can be also be applied to yourself. Definitely worth a read.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to David by: Dan Murray
Very, very interesting attempt by Koch Industries CEO to explain the management processes that have made the company grow and prosper. Would like to have had this book written 20-25 years ago -- could have put it to use in a prior incarnation. Also would like to see a follow-up (it's eight years old) on how the management style/philosophy is seen by company insiders.
Gabriella Hoffman
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great read into understanding why a market-based economy is the supreme economic system in the world. Some times it was dense and terse, but chalk full of great things to takeaway for any young entrepreneur.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you are interested in applied management theory, this is probably the book for you. At first, however, I was not impressed. I thought I had read more updated and sophisticated theory, but after a while the book became more and more fascinating. Suddenly I realized that Koch Industries (KII) actually practice what they preach. You can almost feel it. I have done countless company visits but I’ve never seen anything close to Koch Industries in terms of a coherent corporate culture. It is remark ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book set out to be a manual for how to help companies maximize their fullest potential but ended up just being a reference manual from a single company. That being said the author was extremely intelligent and summed up historical, philosophical, and economic theories (many seemingly disparate) into some simple and concise rules about how to lead people and run a company with integrity. That alone made this book worth it.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Great ideas. Should be made more applicable - the way Dalio does.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As Charles G. Koch explains in the Preface to this book, Market-Based Management® (MBR®) has enabled Koch Industries, Inc. (KII) to become one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, with a 2,000 fold growth since 1967, now employing 80,000 people in 60 countries, with $90-billion in revenue in 2006. MBR consists of five dimensions: vision, virtue and talents, knowledge processes, decision rights, and incentives. No surprises there, nor are there any head-snapping revelations ...more
Deane Barker
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a fairly awful book. I didn't disagree with anything Koch wrote, but the problem is that (1) he's a poor writer, and (2) he's not saying anything profound.

His writing just careens back and forth between points. I was trying to highlight the book and take notes, but it just defies logical organization. The chapter titles don't clearly match the contents, and he vacillates wildly between topics.

Additionally, even if it the book made sense, he's just not saying anything profound or interest
Christopher Lewis Kozoriz
"Chemist and philosopher of science Michael Polanyi argued that we only truly know something-that is, have personal knowledge-when we apply it to get results." ~ Charles G. Koch, The Science of Success, Page 41.

Charles Koch currently has a net worth of 43.4 billion dollars. He is currently the 9th richest person in the world according to Forbes (April 19, 2016).

This was kind of tough book to read. I was thinking that was because Charles Koch was educated in Engineering and his philosophy seems k
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I was hoping to get a little out of the history of Koch Industries, and the beginning of the book does talk about this. Koch describes how the company began and grew, how he and his relatives think, and how they ran the businesses in the various industries they are involved in. I found this an excellent set of stories, and you can get an idea of how the Koch's think. I'd give this part 3 or 4 stars. The majority of the book describes the philosophy of how Koch runs their businesses now. I didn't ...more
Tadas Talaikis
May 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Neoconservative provides F.Hayek quotes and then next chapter glorifying meritocracy. Hereditary meritocracy in this case.

"People should profit according to what value they provide in society." It's ok, but problem with Tea-party meritocracy system ultra-capitalists is that they miss one major thing, value isn't always determined by monetary value.

Not including the praise for "honesty", when anyone can search internet and see the true reality of such "value creation not by political means".

Jeffrey Howard
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Charles outlines Market-based Management, a proven process for taking the principles that lead to prosperity in society, and has applied them to organizations in a way that gets results.

Despite being business buzzword heavy, he outlines a holistic approach to management, consistent with the freedom philosophy.

Praiseworthy businesses exist to provide services and goods which create value for individuals and society. Those organizations which fail to do this in the long-term, disappear. (If only
David Greenberg
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Deane's review hits the nail on the head, so I will not try to rehash her critique. This book provides an interesting story on how Charles Koch used his knowledge of free market economics to perfect a business method. That story is worth the read. It is only the introduction. Afterwards is the system itself. As any free market economist would tell you—including most quoted in the book—systems are imperfect. The system he proposes is like nearly every other business practice book I've read, and i ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given all the negative press surrounding the Koch brothers, this book is not controversial. The author presents his philosophy on why companies should exist and to what end. What surprised me is that in several places he mentions maximizing a company's and a person's contributions to society, along with strict adherence to regulations. Those beliefs, coupled with the way that Koch Industries evaluates their employees and business opportunities, seem to reveal an open mindedness to the way that a ...more
Ben Walker
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
I skimmed all of it, and read a few portions. It's a fine introductory management book. The problem is, most management books are (almost entirely) common sense, so there's little to be gleaned from them. The primary purpose of this book actually seems to be for stroking his ego (e.g. quotes from Einstein and other notables from incongruous fields). I would say his success is more about getting lucky (born to the right family), but he wants to chalk it up to intellect or a management system.

I d
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure how anyone can claim to have read the book without politics, as the introduction explains the book as a comment on the political experience of the firm. The lesson that is supposed to be learned here, per the introduction, is that a dilettante in the humanities can take whatever information was swept together in some undergraduate reading, apply it to business, and circle back to sound humanistic conclusions. Why that is a disaster should not require any head scratching. Meanwhile, ...more
Michael Graber
The Science of Success is more of a book of business philosophy rather than a book of hard science. In this spirit, Charles Koch outlines the principles of Market-Based Management, which is an inspired Free Market world view that empowers managers and employees to add and create value, live up to their highest self, and run companies on both hard and soft metrics. Business owners and leaders should read. Despite the distorted view of this work in the media, it is deeply sensible and offers the m ...more
Jun 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Kock is CEO of the world's largest private company in the world, Koch Industries. The book is about market based management and how its application has grown KII. A $1000 investment in KII in 1960 would be worth 2 million today (2006) assuming reinvestment of dividends. Obviously Koch is onto something. The book is both technical and general. It gives general direction but little in the way of specifics, which is by design. Although short, the book is packed and requires thinking.
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Conceptually (and for Mr. Koch, practically) this book is full of though processes, mind models, values, and ideas that could, if applied across organizations, increase company effectiveness, not just profits. That being said, for a non-economist, it can be a hard read, especially when getting into some of the formulaic ideas. Other than that, there is enough personalized story and practical application to make the book worth the read.
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