The Way It Is May Be As Good As It Gets – Book Review

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

By Philip Kotler and John A. Caslione
AMACOM, New York, NY, May 2009, 224 pages, $25.00

Waiting for the business environment to improve before making a change in your business model is the wrong thing to do. Instead, success is to be found in embracing the chaos of the moment and acting decisively.

This message is from two experienced business and marketing strategists. Philip Kotler is at Northwestern University and an acknowledged expert in international marketing. John A. Caslione heads a global merger and acquisition consulting firm -“ CCS Business Capital LLC.

The notion advanced by the authors is that what we see today in business conditions is the new “normal.” The business environment is being driven by global forces in ways that close off any idea that you can wait out the current storm and then regain your business footing.

The old approaches of surviving to fight another day included things like:
-¢ Reducing technology purchases.
-¢ Cutting back on product development.
-¢ Slowing the speed of any growth strategy actions.
-¢ Relying on across the board spending cuts.

The authors suggest strongly that behaviors of this sort will not enable a business to survive in today’s world. In fact, they may steepen the slope of business failure.

In this new “turbulence,” the authors suggest several steps business leaders must take to an organization to succeed. To insure sustainability, effective leaders must conduct serious planning for right now and not lose sight of the opportunities and risks rushing at the business in the future.

The critical elements of the approach they suggest are:
-¢ Constructing multiple scenario development efforts that identify and help manage opportunities and vulnerabilities.
-¢ Redesigning management systems to be resilient in the face of any threat.
-¢ Developing marketing systems that respond to crisis and remain focused on opportunities.

The book paints a reasonable picture of the environment we can expect for business in the foreseeable future. The business conditions are chaotic, and it will continue to be that way.

Given that a high degree of business uncertainty will continue, what must the leader do? The book does not contain specific action plans for leaders, but it does contain many good questions that must be addressed in order to lead in a turbulent environment.

The authors do not deliver a quick fix to the challenges now faced, but they offer sound direction to leaders who are prepared to adopt a new mindset that focuses on aggressive business growth. The counsel of Kotler and Caslione is to not hunker down, but move purposefully into the storm.

Bob Clark is the president of RWC Consulting LLC and has more than 30 years experience in labor-management relations. He provides consulting help in labor relations and is an adjunct professor at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.