Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review - The Finnish Miracle

I just finished reading "The Finnish Miracle" by Canadian transplant Andre Noel Chaker.  He brings to light the great successes that Finland has achieved over the years.  A few recent international benchmarks as noted in the book include.

  • The best country in the world : Newsweek Magazine 2010
  • Best basic education in the world: PISA 2003, 2006
  • Happiest country in the world: (along with Denmark): Gallup World Poll 2010
  • Least corrupt country in the world: Transparency International 2007 (Always in the top 10 since then)
  • Top ten most-competitive country in the world: World Economic Forum 2000-2011
Those are pretty amazing in my opinion, and one wonders what created these great successes in this small nation.  Andre goes into great detail to explain how the Finns have persevered over time in their history after many hardships and difficult events. They endured many wars with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union,  harsh climate and economic hardships.  Finnish strengths include: solution orientation, compliance, closeness to nature, a good  education system and teachers, effective and sustainable development, anti-corruption, competitiveness, security, transparency, equality, low hierarchies, honesty and sisu.   "Sisu" means a tough and relentless will power and a stubborn, taciturn nature.  In fact he dedicates an entire chapter to explain what he calls the different forms of sisu.  Sisu and success, sisu at war, sisu in business, sisu in sports and the bad sisu. Yes, that is correct, even sisu has a dark, ugly side. 

What I really enjoyed about reading this book is that it is very impartial and did it's best to explain both sides of the coin whether good and bad, but overall it gave me many insights into the character of a Finn and what has made this small nation so successful in the world.  Over the last 15 or so years I have read plenty of books on Finland, but this might have been the most thoughtful and well written. It went into great detail and gave some interesting examples.  I think Andre, having lived in this country for 20 years has done an excellent job giving one deep and clear insights into the culture and the people.  I would highly recommend this book.

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