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Thriving on Chaos

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Thriving on Chaos

Handbook for a Management Revolution


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

As your business faces rapid change, embrace it. Innovate. Envision the future. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


In Search of Excellence guru Tom Peters says today’s rapidly changing times are forcing a management revolution. He suggests that being excellent is no longer enough: companies need to be perpetually ready to innovate. They must be willing to make continual improvements because the business environment is so competitive. Rather than focusing on cost-cutting efficiencies, these improvements must stress providing customers with value. He predicts this rapidly changing world - fueled by new technology - will be unpredictable, so companies must learn how to "thrive on chaos" to survive the turbulent times ahead. To this end, Peters offers a series of steps that managers must take to become proactive and respond to change. He organizes his action prescriptions in five areas of management: 1) being responsive to the customer; 2) constantly innovating in all areas; 3) entering partnerships with everyone connected to your organization; 4) creating an inspiring vision based on change; and 5) setting up controls that measure what’s really important. Peters wrote these prescriptions in 1987, but they are still timely, since change continues unabated. This classic is easy-to-read, with hands-on specific strategies. recommends it to everyone in business.


The Need for a Revolution in Management Practices

Growing changes in the economy and society due to the advance of technology mandate a parallel change in management practices. Companies need to embrace change. To remain excellent, your company must "cherish impermanence - and thrive on chaos."

As your company responds to change, or even restructures, do not consider only today’s known circumstances. Probe what may happen tomorrow. Be ready for the unexpected. This flexibility is necessary because so much has become unpredictable. Even the prices of energy and money change daily. Executives wonder whether to make their companies bigger or smaller, to form alliances or go it alone. Leaders aren’t sure who their partners will be from day to day. Thus, it’s necessary to be ready to respond to changing conditions - and quickly - because forecasting just gets more difficult. The only thing you know with certainty is that you will face rapid change and chaos.

Getting Rid of Old Assumptions

As part of this new orientation, get rid of some of your old assumptions. Drop the notion that "bigger is better and biggest is best." Instead of trying to make workers ...

About the Author

Tom Peters is a management consultant, who has written many business books, including In Search of Excellence (with Robert H. Waterman, Jr.), A Passion for Excellence (with Nancy Austin), Liberation Management, The Circle of Innovation and The Tom Peters Seminar.

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