Now that James Cameron’s groundbreaking movie Avatar has kind of popularised mining (albeit in the old fashioned negative way), it’s worth visiting Neville Lake’s nifty little book The Greatest Planet in the Universe - a self proclaimed business novel that makes up volume one of a planned trilogy about travelling the right path to corporate success.

Starting off with the well worn “A long time ago in a galaxy far away...”, the book follows the trials and tribulations of Marcus Maximus, who is sent on a journey by his ruler (and uncle) Lucius to find the blueprint for success - a sort of collective wisdom that comes from answering 10 fundamental questions, but which has alluded “the colony” for millennia.

“Our citizens are trapped in poorly designed organisations which accomplish a fraction of their potential,” Lucius laments before sending the young man on his quest. “The financial and personal costs are sinful.”

In a narrative that reads like a hybrid of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings mixed with a dose of Star Wars, the level-headed Marcus embarks on his journey, making a number of business-related discoveries (such as asking “Why not?” when looking at expansion opportunities) before reaching his final destination.

Ultimately, the 10 rules - when applied deliberately ‘and without compromise or apology’ - will “support success in any organisation, large or small, public or private”. This, at least, is how Marcus puts it when he finally makes his deliberations to the Ruling Council near the end of the book in a holographic display that, in all likelihood, would not have looked out of place in the 3D version of Cameron’s science fiction epic.

So how does this all apply to developing mining and exploration strategies?

Well, to quote Marcus: “Common sense isn’t common ... and the obvious isn’t always in evidence”.

Lake - who describes himself as an international author, a globally recognised strategic planner and a registered psychologist - has written several other business books. The second instalment of The Greatest Planet in the Universe will address issues such as sales and marketing, while part three shall look at aspects of innovation, improvement and restructuring.