Thriving on Chaos

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Tom Peter’s new book will be a welcome resource to American managers who are facing a struggle for bare survival in these perilous times. He does not believe that mergers and acquisitions are the answer to most corporations’ problems; in fact, he thinks that they may only be compounding their difficulties with that kind of reaction. He writes: “Today’s and tomorrow’s winning hand is becoming increasingly clear--quality and flexibility. Essential to them both are (1) smaller units and (2) highly skilled workers serving as the chief source of incremental improvements in products and services.”

Peter’s forty-five specific prescriptions for a revolutionary new approach to American management are divided into five sections: Creating Total Customer Responsiveness, Pursuing Fast-Paced Innovation, Achieving Flexibility by Empowering People, Learning to Love Change, and Building Systems for a World Turned Upside Down.

As coauthor of the highly regarded IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE, Peters has shown himself to be an indefatigable researcher and interviewer. He also has the intelligence to synthesize and the boldness to extrapolate. He bases his recommendations on a broad understanding of the big international picture, which at the present looks grim for American business. Americans were for too long the fat cats of the world, just as the British had been in the glowing days of their Empire. American complacency allowed Japanese and European competitors to steal huge portions of their domestic market right out from under them. Protectionism, Peters says, is not the answer, for it could easily lead to the destruction of the entire free-enterprise system. He believes that American business can and must turn around under its own steam and once again become a dominant factor in world trade. In order to do so, it must become as aggressive, as innovative, as versatile, and, above all, as quality conscious as its competitors.

THRIVING ON CHAOS is a book to frighten old-line managers with ossified thinking and to inspire the new breed of managers who are excited by the changes and challenges that are now a familiar part of everyday life.