The one-sentence summary

Turbulence is the new normal – get used to it and develop early warning systems.


  • Turbulence is now the norm in business, so the Chaotics management system aims to help companies minimize vulnerability and exploit opportunities fast
  • Panic tactics such as staff cuts, price reductions and slashed investment don’t work, but early warning systems do
  • Factors that cause chaos are technological advances and the information revolution, disruptive technologies, the rise of the rest, hypercompetition, sovereign wealth funds, the environment, and customer empowerment
  • The best response is “skill, will, till”: increase spending on new customers, have a culture to go against the trend, and have some resources to invest
  • Companies need to be responsive, robust and resilient: The most common mistakes made are:

– Stretching to attract new customers before you’ve secured the core

– Cutting marketing

– Neglecting the 900lb gorilla (everyone knows you’re in trouble, so admit it)


  • Chaos inflection points can render a strategy obsolete over night
  • There are processes and diagrams that you can map out and enact
  • Business leaders need to see change first hand, eliminate the filers that stop them finding out fast, accept the inevitability of strategy decay, and drop their reliance on a two-playbook strategy – one for up markets and the other for down. The chaotics system has three components:
  • Detect sources of turbulence through early-warning systems
  • Respond to chaos by construction of key scenarios
  • Select strategy based on scenario prioritisation and risk attitude

Anyone can ask the critical questions:

What have been our past blind spots?

Is there an analogy from another industry?

What signals are we rationalising away?

Who is skilled at picking up weak signals and acting on them?

What are our mavericks and outliers trying to tell us?

What future surprises could really hurt or help us?


It is reasonably serious stuff, so there is no levity to sugar the pill.