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

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  822 ratings  ·  90 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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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. ...more
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. ...more
Kate Loritz
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I worked for a company under Koch ownership and this was my first exposure to the science behind the management and culture. This book is truly what the Koch companies are about and the key ingredient is getting the right people in the right roles...the rest truly does take care of itself. Culture, mindset, and ongoing leadership development are key ingredients. Being open to personal transformation is also a key ingredient. I think this book would go well with "Good to Great" in terms of how to ...more
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:
Omar El-mohri
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, audio-copy
The second part of the book looks just like Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
As of the first part, it’s the typical Charles Koch view of business
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
May 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Copy and paste several summaries of economic terms into Charlie Koch’s Wikipedia page, and remove the criticism section. That’s this book.

What appears to be a scientific approach to applying market principles to business management is actually a lot of fancy ways to say things everyone knows. After explaining the economic concepts of incentives and comparative advantage, he then says “so hire and retain the right people”. Instead of giving you more details, he then talks about this other compan
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. ...more
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. ...more
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
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
"We all tend to pursue our own interests, but in a true market economy we can only prosper by providing others with what they value. The economist, Adam Smith, summed up this process when he said, 'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest.' By self-interest, Smith meant what Tocqueville called 'enlightened self interest,' by which people benefit themselves by benefiting others."

"There is a
Rishabh Srivastava
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short but incredibly information-dense read. Charles Koch shares his framework for managing companies, using words with great economy and precision.

My main takeaways from this book were:
1. Value is subjective, not objective. Understand the subjective value of your customers and employees. To do this, observe and act on their revealed preferences — not their stated preferences
2. Never enter into partnerships – of any kind – without an exit mechanism ("a divorce agreement")
3. You don’t want a de
Tony Creech
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
The business parts are good. But the later part/appendices of the book is mostly a clip show of old-time success teaching that can sometimes be helpful but are not even close to “science”. Most of it is behaviourism, and pretending that opportunity and luck don’t have a massive contribution to success regardless of your mindset (victim mentality is poison but a growth mindset doesn’t force success). Without his birth into his wildly wealthy family, like Trump, he could follow all these old time ...more
Eli Pollack
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a book that left me thinking "do as I say, not as I do". On the business side the book is interesting and informative. But while reading about the Koch's principles and virtues. etc., I am thinking of southern plantation owners that used the Bible to justify slavery, or priests that giving moving, uplifting sermons after abusing little boys.
The way the Kochs have spent their money, e.g., in the political positions they have pushed forward, are as divorced from what they write an you can
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.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unlike the few other how-to-succeed-in-business books I have read, which tend to be just-so stories, this one actually had some substance to it. Charles Koch presents an internally coherent framework for success in business, one that apparently can survive contact with the real world, at least based on the single data point Koch Industries provides. Not exactly entertaining, but I am rating it 4 stars because of how it compares to other books in this genre.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Has some interesting frameworks to follow that I will take to heart in my entrepreneurial endeavors. Definitely heavy on theory but much lighter on how to actually put some of these ideas into practice. One risks over-intellectualizing a bad decision by referencing tenets from the book when they may be putting the right idea into practice in the wrong way.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Most of it was information that most already know. Pretty good book for someone who is in management, though. One thing that I did learn was a really good rule of thumb about starting a lawsuit: "Don't sue! A third goes to the lawyer, a third goes to the government, and you lose your business!" ...more
Becky L Long
May 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Decent read. Decent information. First half of audiobook was quite good. I'm not sure what the second half was, but it went on and on and on with no clear purpose. I think the actual book ended at the halfway mark. ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Great ideas. Should be made more applicable - the way Dalio does.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Utter rubbish.
José Antonio Lopez
Good reference of what is the philosophical background of Market Based Management (R) and the elements of its practice.

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