"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I have, not too long ago, & also as part of my evolving personal collection, the following apt quote from Philip Kotler at the forefront of my daily idea scratchpad:

“To prepare for the twenty-first century, companies need to imagine alternative scenarios for the marketplace of the future, and use these scenarios to stimulate their thinking about possible contingencies and strategies. My advice, therefore, is get busy building scenarios and determining what they imply in the way of strategic planning. Do not think business as usual.”

I can't recall where I have gotten it, but I have also adopted it as one of my 'Today's VIP (Very Important Pose'), as well as considered it as one of my 'Pragmatic Insights from the Experts' in my personal weblog.

To my pleasant delight, I am glad that it helps to set a profound preamble to this book review of mine.

The lead author, now 78 or so, but surprisingly still active, is undoubtedly recognised as an internationally acclaimed marketing guru; hailed by the Management Centre Europe as "the world's foremost expert on the strategic practice of marketing."

Naturally, I have been quite excited to approach in reading his new book, 'Chaotics', but my fascination begins to fade after reading several pages at the front portion of the book. This is primarily because the author has drawn excellent material from several earlier authors - which he has humbly acknowledged at the onset & within the chapters of the book - namely:

- Clayton Christensen ('The Innovator's Dilemma' & 'The Innovator's Solution');
- Jim Collins ('Good to Great');
- Peter Drucker (The Age of Discontinuity');
- George Day & Paul Schoemaker ('Peripheral Vision');
- Richard D'Alveni ('Hypercompetition');
- Arie de Geus ('The Living Company');
- Benjamin Gilad ('Early Warning');
- Andy Grove ('Only the Paranoid Survive');
- Gary Hamel ('Leading the Revolution');
- Peter Schwartz (''Inevitable Surprises');

[The only odd one I have not read, to my chagrin, is probably Hermann Simon's 'Hidden Champions'.]

I have, in fact, over the years, read the works of these authors not only once, but many times in order to personalise their many ideas for easy application.

So, specifically for me, reading 'Chaotics' is like doing a grand refresher course.

In fact, it also reminds of me of the great works of two Scandinavian consultants Yves Doz & Mikko Kosonen (with their masterpiece: 'Fast Strategy: How Strategic Agility will help you Stay Ahead of the Game') & innovation strategist/futurist Jim Carroll (namely, 'What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation' & 'Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast').

However, in fairness to the two competent authors, this bold statement of mine is not going to diminish the value of the book.

Strictly speaking, I reckon, riding on the shoulders of giants, so to speak, is apparently a cool move on the part of the two competent authors, because they didn't have to spend time dabbling with fancy theories. All they need to do, is to give all the proven stuff a new spin, which they have done so marvellously in 'Chaotics'.

In that respect, I have found useful nuggets, in addition to the fact that the two competent authors have synthesised, within 200-odd pages, all the "borrowed brilliance" into a timely, disciplined strategy guide on building strategic robustness, market responsiveness & operational resiliency, as embodied in their 'Chaotics' Management System.

In a nut shell, I want to say that the book is all about developing organisational agility & prosperity, but first business leaders need a new view of the world, & a new framework for dealing with it.

[At this juncture, I am reminded again by this superb insight from Dudley Lynch, author of 'Strategy of the Dolphin' & 'The Mother of All Minds':

"When your mind changes its worldview, it changes the world! Not just the world-at-large outside you, but also your own interior personal world, writ large!"]

So, 'Chaotics' comes in real handy, because it provides a comprehensive roadmap to navigate the so-called interlocking fragility of turbulence, chaos, risk & uncertainty amidst globalisation & digitisation, as well as a practical operating manual for inculcating new strategic behaviours.

[Readers can also go to this publisher's link to download an overview document on 'Chaotics'.]

For me, the beautiful nuggets come in the form of abundant pertinent probing questions, which all managers of today should ask themselves, if they really want to survive & thrive in the 'Age of Turbulence', all interpersed throughout the book (& strategically segmented to suit finance, IT, manufacturing, purchasing & HR) , plus a myriad of thoughtfully-crafted checklists of recommendations & ideas to consider.

In terms of immediate takeaways or learning points, the foregoing stuff is already worth the price of the book. It's like having both competent authors at your side to guide you.

For reader's benefits, I like to fish out a handful of the worthwhile checklists:

- factors that can cause chaos;
- hypercompetition strategies for disruption;
- most common mistakes that business leaders make when turbulence hits;
- ten innovation mistakes a company can make during a turbulent economy;
- ten most common mistakes companies make relative to valued stakeholders during turbulence;
- one effective & efficient approach to scenario construction;
- ten practices to weather continually extended & heightened periods of turbulence;
- ten effective HR recommendations to help retain talent;
- four key changes in the marketspace;
- eight factors for marketers to keep in mind when embracing 'Chaotics' marketing strategies;
- three important recommendations for keeping margins above water;
- six key steps for sales executives to inspired the team;
- common characteristics of firms of endearment (endeared company);

Some of the authors' concepts like defending vulnerabilities/exploiting opportunities for sustainability, as well as dual vision/triple planning, though not entirely new, are worth reading, too.

To conclude my review, 'Chaotics' is still worth pursuing, especially if you are hard-pressed for time in seeking a lifeline while traversing uncharted waters. Best of all, to the credit of the two competent authors, their writing style is crisp, succinct & easy-to-read.

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