Our books explore the human aspects of modern business and challenge the notion that the business world is an exclusively rational arena from which human emotion and social behaviours are excluded.

The Five Principles of Performance Thinking systematises our conviction that business can learn valuable lessons from the performing arts and distils our extensive experience of both business and the arts into five core principles. In business, we tend to describe ‘performance’ in terms of targets hit, forecasts delivered and margins achieved, but a truly successful performance does more than deliver the right numbers – it delights and moves its audience. The book explores how we can move beyond simplistic measures in business and start to focus on how we can deliver performances that engage with and delight our various audiences.

Perform To Win is written as a business novel based on a lightly-fictionalised account of Mark Powell’s ground-breaking arts-based leadership development programmes at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. The book follows the experiences of four board directors as they interact with actors, jazz musicians, dancers, a conductor and a choral group. It charts their progress as they move from initial concern that the programme will be a ‘distraction’ from their immediate and very pressing business problems to a realisation that the insights they are gaining from these top performing artists offer an exciting way forward and a potential solution. Will the directors find a way to save their most important business account? Read on…

Machiavellian Intelligence explores the little-discussed fact that most modern corporations are not, as people tend to assume, rational and meritocratic operations in which hard work and talent will inevitably be rewarded, but complex social systems which must be skilfully navigated to obtain power and influence. The book analyses six ‘good’ habits common amongst talented and hard-working executives that are, in fact, bad for their careers.

My Steam Engine Is Broken explores a number of paradoxical organisational behaviours that have been unthinkingly carried over from our industrial past – behaviours based on the industrial paradigms of control and efficiency. The book explores 10 ‘paradoxical’ organisational behaviours – behaviours that are highly likely to achieve the opposite of what organisations need in the modern world – and shows how these can be addressed ‘little by little and piece by piece’ to achieve painless but radical organisational transformation through the aggregation of marginal gains.

Jonathan Gifford’s earlier published works investigate the behaviours and mindsets of the great leaders from history, the personal stories of key leaders from modern business history and the ways in which people’s unpredictable and irrational behaviours tend to throw spanners into the works of our best-laid plans.