The Book Corner - Review

Chaotics by Philip Kotler and John A. Caslione

Chaotics by Philip Kotler and John A. Caslione

Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in the Age of Turbulence

By Philip Kotler and John A. Caslione
AMACOM, 2009

[powerpress http://gsbm-med.pepperdine.edu/gbr/audio/winter2010/review-gift.mp3]

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4 stars: Thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating materialIn Chaotics, Kotler and Caslione argue for a “disciplined approach” to business decision making as opposed to relying on gut instinct or conventional wisdom. According to the authors, “responsive, robust, and resilient” businesses constantly look for the “weak signals” of turbulence and are proactive in constructing, rehearsing, and revising various chaos scenarios and their preferred response strategies.

The book offers numerous examples of companies that have thrived and faltered in turbulent times because of the decisions they made. They walk the reader through their definition of turbulence (“unpredictable and swift changes in an organization’s external or internal environments”), bad responses to turbulence, the business thought process behind their Chaotics Model, and specific recommendations for each major business department (with an entire chapter dedicated to marketing).

In the first chapter, the authors go a bit overboard with their characterization of terrorism and the financial crisis in order to frighten the reader into believing that we are entering “The Age of Turbulence,” in which business environments are significantly more chaotic than in the past. However, the true value of the book is in pressing readers to change their mindset with respect to business decisions, to never expect normality nor take it for granted, to look for opportunity when others are fearful, and to ingrain this approach to business into the company culture.

While reading, I was reminded of the following statement by Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts, at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2009:

And what are we to do when there’s a downturn? Throw the baby out? Burn the place down? Fire everybody? Destabilize the entire workforce? Change our service levels? Stop keeping a promise that we’ve been breaking our neck to get the public to trust for years? What a self-destructive thing that would be! How illogical and immature is that? That’s exactly what happens in most businesses. A bunch of dimwits get in a room and start cutting costs.

Chaotics is an excellent read for anyone who does not want to be one of the dimwits.

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