“Mark’s speech at Danone’s 2022 conference was very much appreciated and helped introduce the right mindset for the creative workshops we had for the rest of the day. A few quotes from Mark are already part of our conversations: “When you think you know, you don’t learn”! Conference participants are eager to read their copies of The Five Principles of Performance Thinking.” Thierry Durupthy, Global Supply Chain Operations Director, Danone Specialized Nutrition

“A great inspirational moment with Mark to open our minds on the new reality of our world and how to tackle our daily challenges. A brilliant and delighting moment with creativity, compelling stories, good connection and a touch of art!”
Arnaud Montagnes, VP Operations, Design to Delivery, Danone Specialized Nutrition

“A vibrant speaker with great depth of knowledge and a dynamic style that makes him unforgettable. Mark’s energy and enthusiasm never fail to capture the attention of audiences, and his experience and intellect keep senior business leaders engaged. Not to be missed!” A. Stewart, Project Director, BG Group

 “I found the concept of learning from performance artists deeply unsettling, but it was transformative for me.” John Oliver, Executive Director, Sellafield Ltd

“I’d like to thank you for an inspiring session. You made a big impression on me.” Capgemini delegate

“The programme has provided me with immense insight into project leadership and business change process.” BG Group Leadership Development Programme delegate, Oxford Saïd Business School

“Mark Powell brings a rare combination of imagination, structured thinking and a broad frame of reference to organisational challenges. He is able to see the whole picture whilst still empathising with the individual, the personal. He is collaborative in his approach and has an incisive ability to cut to the chase. Things generally become clearer when working with Mark!’ T. Camilleri, Associate Fellow & Programme Director, Oxford SAID Business School

“Mark supported Playtech in a high-profile industry customer event in Marrakesh in June 2016, and brought a broad world perspective which was both stimulating and challenging to the audience, whilst remaining objectively on-topic. It was a great pleasure to work with Mark, who was accommodating and receptive to the messages Playtech were looking to achieve, and his presentation was consequently a strong lead into our more industry-specific material. His presentation, and Playtech’s as a whole, was received with widespread appreciation. I would gladly recommend Mark and would certainly choose to work with him again if the opportunity were to arise.”
Robin Bowler, Government Markets Director, Playtech

“I’ve seen Dr Powell speak at numerous events and he has always proven himself an exceptional raconteur. His ability to engage his audience and leave them on the edge of their seats is as good as I have seen. He is a proven natural in this field.” F. Aranki, Director, FTI-CL Energy

“Keeping my attention has never been easy, but this presenter was different. His speech was alive, dynamic and his subject matter is energised, so much so, whatever your background and experience – you will listen and you will certainly learn something.”
J. Clayton, Director, Jupiter Asset Management

“Jonathan is one of the best conference speakers I have worked with: amusing, engaging and genuinely inspirational.” Mary Langan, Owner, Nua Training

“Jonathan came across as a talented and great writer and speaker.”
BG Group Leadership Development Programme delegate, Oxford Saïd Business School

Book Reviews and Comment

Performance Thinking cover scanThe Five Principles of Performance Thinking: The mindsets and techniques for success in the modern world

“The parallels between performance arts and business performance are exciting and clear. There is a lot to learn from this book. A great read!” Hugo Tewson, Chairman, Andiamo

“Nothing is more demanding than having to produce a stunning performance in real time. The very best artists and directors can do so over and over again. Business leaders would do well to understand how. With this book Mark Powell and Jonathan Gifford make it easy to learn.” David Magliano, General Manager at Warner Bros. Entertainment Group of Companies

“There is a growing recognition of the potential for business to learn from the arts. This is the first book which sets out how great performance artists work in a way that individuals and organisations can apply in both a personal and business context. Following The Five Principles can help us all to deliver great performances.” Steve Varley, UK Chairman, Ernst and Young LLP

“In today’s fast-paced business environment and the age of engagement and experience, delighting customers must be at the forefront of an organization’s strategy. It’s a mantra to be baked into everything the company does, regardless of industry vertical. This book is for anyone ready to do things differently, to ensure your business is engaging on an emotional level and building deeper personal connections with customers and key stakeholders.” Simon Paris, CEO, Finastra

“For teams to win in any business everyone needs to engage their whole self in performing. Real vitality in performance comes from being authentic, when it’s not just an ‘act’, respecting and empowering others and working as an ensemble. Performance Thinking is a good rule for life…and shows that with discipline and risk-taking; realism and imagination … great things can happen!” Rupert Preston Bell, Head of Internal Communication PWC

“We need to find new models for leadership and for driving performance in an increasingly competitive and uncertain world. This book offers a new model and a set of principles that everyone can apply to improve their own performances and be more successful. A game changer and a must read for anyone who aspires to deliver great performances in their personal and business lives.” Marco Buschman, Master Certified Coach, Leadership expert & Managing Partner COURIUS

“The book reminds us that “the industrial mindset is infuriatingly pernicious’ and the pressures of this mindset drive an exclusive focus on process and efficiency which can stand in the way of exceptional performance. This book provides a great stimulus to connect with the human and emotional which is essential to our ability to communicate with our various audiences. There is much to learn from an understanding of the mindset behind great artistic performance and thus this book is an inspiration for any leader who operates in a public arena such as an organisation. When I first worked with Mark and Jonathan I found the concept of learning from performance artists deeply unsettling but it was transformative for me and this book provides insights that will benefit any leader. Any business book that references The Tale of Peter Rabbit is pretty special!” John Oliver, Executive Director, Sellafield Ltd.

“As business and industry develops it is increasingly clear that there remain some fundamentals where we all need to excel. One of these is the ability to establish and nurture a performance culture and this book from Powell and Gifford, provides an engaging, insightful and well-structured guide to putting on a performance that supports your business’ success” Nick Chaffey, Chief Executive Officer UK & Europe, Northrop Grumman

“The world is changing rapidly and relentlessly through the application of technology into our daily lives. In order for society to embrace and benefit from these seismic shifts, we must both adopt and adapt to new technologies. With greater levels of automation, I believe the only way to navigate through these waves of change is to focus on performance in the modern age and specifically, ‘How do we create space for our people to be amazing?’ This book provides perspectives on how leaders can creatively and collaboratively prepare for a future that does not yet exist…” Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President techUK

“Whether in business or in life, this is a must read. Before we act on anything we must think. Easier said than done, especially in today’s super-fast world. What I really liked in this book is the translation to practice of a great framework that can easily be applied. This is really helpful when dealing with difficult emotionally-charged situations where our reactions need to be more instinctive. A great book.” Aris Persidis, Ph.D., President and Co-Founder, Biovista.

“The section on connected ensembles really resonated with me. The most successful teams I have worked in have all been focused and remunerated on achieving common goals. Those of you running businesses where your staff still compete against each other for individual reward should read this book and learn how artists create high performing teams.” Alistair Buckle, Head of Sales and Marketing, ScotRail Alliance

PTW cover scanPerform To Win: Unlocking the secrets of the arts for personal and business success

“This is by far the best book on management and leadership that I have read in years because it allows you to identify with successful performers and ensembles rather than preaching at you. Ensemble performance is a much better model for teamwork than the usual fallback on measuring the talents and styles of team members with silly tests. The focus is the emotional connection between leaders, members, and most important the audience.”
Edgar H. Schein, former Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management

“Explores how top performing artists work to create outstanding performances and demonstrates convincingly how this can be used in our everyday business and personal lives. Loved it!” Anton Musgrave, FutureWorld – The Global Business and Technology Think Tank

“A must read for anyone who wants to stretch the performance of teams. Work should be something to live for, not just something to live by, and this book gives the essential clues to help make that a reality.” Patrick Lewis, Managing Director Partnership Services, the John Lewis Partnership

“Shows what it takes to become a true winner. Very thoughtful and practical. A must read.” Fons Trompenaars, Partner, People and Change, KPMG

“Reads like a novel but delivers more meaningful new ideas than a shelf-full of business books. A new kind of book for a new zeitgeist. Onwards!”
Ed Will, founder, The Breakfast Agency

“Anyone struggling to understand how the arts can teach real business lessons should read this book. It offers a clear picture of the impact that changing mind-sets can have by retuning our leaders’ experiences.” Craig Darroch, Head of Learning & Development, BG Group

“The humanities and the arts contain powerful lessons for leaders. The practice and discipline of the performing arts and the experiential insights they bring make fertile territory for leadership development. The lessons learned can be pivotal – they stick.”
Tracey Camilleri, Director Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme

“Takes us under the skin of performing artists and reveals the techniques and mindsets they use in search of a winning performance. The fictionalised approach brings everything to life and shows clearly how relevant these techniques are for all of us.”
Neil Jacobsohn, FutureWorld – the Global Business & Technology Think Tank

“Goes right to the heart of what really drives business performance – the behaviours and mindsets of individuals. The innovative approach the authors take really brings to life the experiential nature of working with performing artists and draws out the lessons we can all use for our own success.” Robert Williams, Transformation Director, Denton Williams Consulting

My Steam Engine cover high res

My Steam Engine Is Broken: Taking the organisation from the industrial era to the age of ideas

My Steam Engine is Broken provides a map for executives seeking to lead their organizations through the challenges of today and tomorrow. This book argues that we need to radically reassess many of the organizational behaviours that we have taken for granted for so long in order to create a culture that is appropriate for ‘The Age of Ideas’. ” Johan C. Aurik Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney

“This little book is not for the faint-hearted. It is no less than a Luddite charter, promoting the complete destruction of traditional command and control structures as a necessary precursor to embedding the creativity, innovation and connectivity required in organisations suited to the new age of ideas. Bracing stuff!” Peter Rawlins Founder, Rawlins Strategy Consulting and former Chief Executive, London Stock Exchange

My Steam Engine is Broken calls on leaders to put on their overalls, roll up their sleeves and start loosening the bolts of their organisations. It’s a book that invites in bravery and imagination to rethink organisations in a way that will make them fit for the future and fit, crucially, for the most talented young people to join and thrive in.” Tracey Camilleri, Associate Fellow, Programme Director, The Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

“You would have thought that today’s organisations would all be thoroughly evolved entities. But not a bit of it. As the authors point out, we are still witnessing a long sigh out of the nineteenth century. Leaders continue to talk about ‘levers’ to pull as if they’re running a machine, ‘delivering’ as if they were in charge of a post office, and ‘execution’ as if they managed a military phalanx. So there’s a mismatch between the rhetoric and the reality. It’s about time the gap was closed, and one way is indeed to change the language. No more steam trains and ‘efficiencies’: the machine metaphor has served us well but it doesn’t work anymore.” Robert Roland Smith, Philosopher, Business Advisor and Author of Breakfast With Socrates

“Lack of innovation, talent, and engagement are not problems, but symptoms – symptoms of command and control management practices that arose in the industrial age. Today, we are firmly entrenched in the information age where we need intelligence, creativity, curiosity, collaboration and a sense of purpose to succeed. In order to create the workplaces that make the most of the human capacity to learn and create, we have to abandon command and control management. This change will require a leap of faith, jumping from the familiar practices that we know don’t work to a world of uncertainty and experimentation. Leaping into uncertainty is never easy, but if enough people jump, more will follow.” Karen Phelan, Management Consultant and Author of I’m Sorry I Broke Your Company

“This easy to read and cleverly designed book opens your eyes to the latest thinking on management and organisational design, which many of us have been indoctrinated into. The authors explore how businesses continue to adapt a command and control structure worthy of the industrial era, though in order to be successful we need to adapt and meet the needs of the world we now find ourselves in – the age of ideas.” Mike Williams, People Director at Byron Hamburgers.

MI cover scanMachiavellian Intelligence: How to survive and thrive in the modern corporation

“Gifford and Powell have done it again! Their latest original take on how to succeed in the modern corporation draws extensive parallels with the power struggles of Renaissance Italy. Their message that ambitious executives still have much to learn from the teaching of Niccolò Machiavelli makes for uncomfortable but compelling reading.”
Peter Rawlins, former CEO, London Stock Exchange

“The expedition of your life; navigating the snakes and ladders of your corporation successfully using your full potential and loving it. This book tells you how!”
Nick Blazquez, former Africa and Asia-Pacific President, Diageo

“This book will surprise and shock you – and if you work for a corporation of any size it is essential reading! The real stories will galvanise you to build better and flourishing futures for your business and colleagues, to design and create new corporate behaviours, rituals and systems that make you proud and society better.” Anton Musgrave, Senior Partner FutureWorld International.

“The antidote to the idealised business cultures of recent years. This book is a stark reminder of the fact that business means business. A must read.” Eleni Chalmers, Leo Burnett

“A gritty commentary on how to succeed in the modern organisation. Be mindful of your career and be aware of how your and your competitors’ actions and behaviours can impact it.” Chris Brown, Upton Brown Executive Search Consultants

“A ‘must read’ for anyone aspiring for senior leadership positions in business. You get a gut-wrenching sensation as you re-live your own experience of the authors’ scenarios and start to appreciate what you really should and could have done in your best career interests.”  Robert Williams, Transformation Director, Denton Williams Consulting