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

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We have entered into an entirely new era, an age of increasingly frequent and intense periods of turbulence in the global economy. Unlike past recessions, today’s crises have precipitated a need for businesses to develop a new mindset, one that takes into account intermittent periods of disturbance, allowing them to thrive while under the constant threat of chaos. Chaotics presents a revolutionary set of guidelines designed to help businesses:

• detect sources of turbulence

• prepare scenarios

• predict resulting vulnerabilities and opportunities

• develop responses to ensure long-term resilience and success

• avoid risk while advancing the interests of the company

• build flexibility into the balance sheet

• price strategically

• adjust products to meet new customer values

• and more

Complete with metrics and measurements, Chaotics outlines a powerful new system for managing waves of uncertainty affecting customers, employees, and other stakeholders. In this climate of increased turbulence, no organization can survive with less.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Globalization and technology have heightened the interconnection, interdependence and fragility of today’s marketplace…Chaotics provides a system for steering businesses through both the best and worst of times.” -- Research magazine

“Kotler and Caslione have produced a timely and thoughtful analysis of the turbulent economic environment in which we now live, with a series of practical responses to the challenges faced.” -- The Irish Times

“…wrestling with how the increasing speed of change is affecting your business…then there is plenty of rock-solid…common-sense advice in the book...well worth your time.” --1to1 magazine

“In Chaotics, authors Philip Kotler and John Caslione pool their expertise to provide business leaders with a system for navigating the turbulent times…” -- Consulting magazine

“…outlines a powerful new system for managing waves of uncertainty affecting customers, employees, and other stakeholders….The best of the year so far!” -- CEO

"The authors hit a home run with this book. Reader value is off the charts.” -- Springfield Business Journal

“Philip Kotler…The man who brought metrics to marketing doesn’t disappoint…even the chart-averse will admire the skillful discussion of economic ‘chaotic theory.’” -- The Deal

“…very timely book…world economies are still turbulent, and given their interconnectivity, that's increasingly likely to continue…well-written, lucid treatise on surviving the new state of capitalism.” --Financial Executive

Selected as on the best books of 2009 by CEO

“…true value of the book is in pressing readers to change their mindset...never expect normality nor take it for granted…excellent read for anyone who does not want to be one of the dimwits.” --Graziadio Businessreport

CHOICE April 2010 Editors' Picks “…clearly written, interesting, and practical book.” -- Choice magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814415214
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 5/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Kotler (Evanston, IL) is one of the world’s foremost experts on the strategic practice of marketing, voted the first Leader in Marketing Thought by the American Marketing Association. He is the S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and the author of many influential books, including Marketing Management.

John A. Caslione (Lake Forest, IL) is a highly sought after expert who has executed global business development strategies in 87 countries on six continents. He is the founder, President, and CEO of the global mergers and acquisitions advisor GCS Business Capital LLC.

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Read an Excerpt


Meeting the New Challenges

WHAT IS THIS book about? Those who manage businesses have

a certain view of the world and a certain set of practices for dealing

with expected changes in the marketplace. Their view, in the

simplest terms, is that times are either normal as a precursor to

runaway growth and sustained prosperity, or weak as a precursor

to dwindling demand and possibly recession. Businesses use a different

playbook for dealing with each of these market conditions.

In normal times, they compete with a mixture of offensive and

defensive plays, but are not likely to win big. In runaway growth

periods, they see new opportunities everywhere. They invest and

spend freely to capture what they can. In recession times, businesses

cut their costs and investment to ensure their survival.

This view of two underlying market conditions, and two playbooks

to guide the firm, is, however, outmoded. There are market

conditions beyond these two basic ones. And conditions can suddenly

shift from one to another and yet another. One day there is a

9/11 terrorist attack; another day, a Katrina flood. One day there is

a panic aboutmortgages and defections that lead to a collapse of the

world’s financial system. Big shocks happen more frequently today

as a result of an increasingly interconnected global economy supporting

giant flows of trade and information.

The shocks come in all shapes and sizes. Inmany parts of theworld,

acrossmany industries, important things are happening that are only

dimly perceived if at all, and certainly their implications are notmeasured.

It could be two people in a garage building a new gadget called

a personal computer. It could be a guy named Jeff Bezos starting an

Internet business called “Amazon.”Or another guy named Steve Jobs

building an iPhone. It could be a guy who envisions high yield bonds

or another who develops the idea of securitizing mortgages. Had the

computer industry, the book industry, the music industry, or the

financial industry noticed these visionaries, they would have acted

earlier to protect their turf or grab new opportunities.

Business leaders need a new view of the world and a new framework

for dealing with it. According to this new view, change is

occurring all the time. It can come quickly from any corner of the

world and affect any company with a major impact. This is the view

to which Peter Drucker first called our attention in his book The Age

of Discontinuity.1 This is the view that Andy Grove articulated in

Only the Paranoid Survive.2 This is the view that former U.S. Treasury

head Alan Greenspan articulated in The Age of Turbulence.3 This

is the view that Clayton Christensen wrote in his Business Innovation

and Disruptive Technology.4

It is our view as well that there ismuchmore risk and uncertainty

in business affairs today than ever before coming from disruptive

innovations and big unexpected shocks. Business leaders have

always lived with some risk and uncertainty, taking out insurance

wherever possible to blunt the damage. But today, the speed of

change and the magnitude of shocks are greater than ever. This is

not what was normal in the past. This is the new normality. It goes

beyond disruptive innovation to include major shocks.

And how are business leaders to deal with it? Because they must

manage during times of greater turbulence, they need a system to

make better decisions. They need amanagement framework and system

to deal with chaos. They need a Chaotics Management System.

It seems everywhere in the world where we encounter business

and government leaders, virtually everyone senses that this time is

different, even if they cannot articulate precisely what makes it different.

But as you’ll see in Chapter 1, we often find an immediate

acknowledgment and agreement when we explain to these leaders

that they’ve entered into a new normality, one in which the days of

the two cycles—one up and one down—are over for the foreseeable

future. These leaders sense that we’ve entered an era of ongoing,

continuous turbulence and heightened chaos. This realization is

often accompanied by a sense of relief that they can now articulate

what they’ve been sensing, coupled with dread that the traditional

up cycle may not kick in to let the good times roll again—at least

not like it did in the past.

It is for this reason that we wrote Chaotics.

In Chapter 1 we will identify themany factors creating this heightened

turbulence demanding that business leaders need to reinvent

their thinking to adopt new strategic behaviors tominimize their vulnerabilities

and exploit their opportunities in the new normality.

In Chapter 2 we will explain why mistakes made by business

leaders in past down cycles that, while they were not necessarily

helpful to their businesses, in this new era they will be not only

harmful but fatal to a business if it fails to adjust.

In Chapter 3,we will introduce the ChaoticsManagement System,

which provides a roadmap for business leaders to transition their

organizations, including adding new critical internal processes, to

function successfully and better understand and deal with the events

unfolding around them. By providing guidance in the development

of early warning systems to detect turbulence in the environment,

and constructing yet-foreseen scenarios and strategies, Chaotics will

offer new and robust organizational muscle to handle the heightened

levels of turbulence and chaos with decisiveness and speed.

In Chapter 4, we will describe new strategic behaviors necessary

for each key management function in the organization to improve

its short-term performance without jeopardizing its medium- and

long-term performance.

In Chapter 5 we will provide a comprehensive roadmap to show

how companies can sharpen and strengthen their marketing and

sales strategies in turbulent times even when there’s pressure to cut

budgets in these areas, and to lay the groundwork for a stronger and

longer future with a bigger and more loyal customer base.

And finally in Chapter 6, we will outline what business leaders

can do to properly balance short-termwithmedium- and long-term

demands of their businesses to preserve and build successful companies

to live and thrive for many years into the future.

We are confident that Chaotics will provide business leaders the

critical new insights, new perspectives, and a new system—including

a set of new strategic behaviors and tools—to successfully navigate

the unpredictable and uncertain waters in this new era, The

Age of Turbulence.

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Table of Contents


Preface VII

Introduction 1



What Is Market Turbulence? 12

Factors that Can Cause Chaos 18

Conclusion 41



Resource Allocation Decisions that

Undermine Core Strategy and Culture 51

Across-the-Board Spending Cuts versus

Focused and Measured Actions 53

Quick Fixes to Preserve Cash Flow,

Putting Key Stakeholders at Risk 56

Reducing Marketing, Brand, and

New Product Development Expenses 57

Declining Sales and Price Discounting 60

Decoupling from Customers by

Reducing Sales-Related Expenses 62

Cutting Back on Training and Development

Expenses in Economic Crises 63

Undervaluing Suppliers and Distributors 64

Conclusion 69


Constructing an Early-Warning System (EWS) 81

Construction of Key Scenarios 89

Scenario and Strategy Selection 98

Conclusion 102


The Chaotics Management System108

Finance and Information Technology 112

Manufacturing/Operations 122

Purchasing/Procurement 129

Human Resources 134

Conclusion 138


Common Marketing Reactions to Crises 145

Strategic Marketing Responses to Crises 150

Operational Issues Facing the Marketing Department 157

Operational Issues Facing the Sales Department 162

Conclusion 166



Business Enterprise Sustainability 172

Conclusion 190

Notes 193

Index 205

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Knowledgeable advice on thriving amid constant change

    The world is uncertain and growing more so. Businesses must react to new and constant fluidity. Remaining calm and clear-eyed in the face of chaos takes nerve and perception. Marketing guru Philip Kotler and business adviser John A. Caslione offer a rock of judgment to stand on amid these tossing seas. Their knowledgeable, organized approach proves scholarly enough to offer illuminating historical background and forward-looking enough to present a clear - if general - set of guidelines for managing, marketing and selling in a future where change is constant. They identify obstacles and offer strategies to help leaders cope with the unknown and stay flexible when the going is chaotic. getAbstract recommends this readable prescription for thriving in troubled times to anyone who intends to earn a living today, next week or 10 years hence.

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