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Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere Hardcover – June 18, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Venkatesan the market in India is a lead case for emerging markets; preparing for business in India is a global venture that requires not just "incremental evolution, but a paradigm shift." As a successful businessman who "build two billion dollar businesses for American companies in India" -Cummins Inc. and Microsoft- so Venkatesan is more than qualified to write this well-organized and thoughtful book. His main premise is that companies need to "win in India to be able to win everywhere else." The author patiently lays out steps corporations and their leaders must take to establish successful businesses in India, and includes several detailed case studies from companies as different as JCB ("India is the crown jewel in the JCB crown") and the lesser known Hindustan Unilever. The examples of creative solutions are fascinating; readers will learn why Microsoft India provides health insurance for employees and their parents and in-laws, and how McDonald's succeeds in a country where many Indians will not enter a restaurant if it serves beef or pork. Venkatesan also honestly and matter-of-factly addresses high levels of corruption in India, dryly adding that it is "far from being the most terrible country." This is a fascinating and informative book for anyone who wants to keep up on major trends in business.


"It would be hard to find a more passionate advocate for doing business in India than Ravi Venkatesan."--Heather Timmons, The New York Times
"Having had the pleasure of working with Ravi Venkatesan during his Microsoft years, it's inspiring to see the challenges he faced, his successes, and the lessons he learned codified into knowledge that is helpful to all. Conquering the Chaos is both a way of getting started in India and other emerging markets and a poignant reminder of what we must all continue to pursue as global leaders." --Stephen Elop, Chairman and CEO, Nokia

“With a combination of personal experience and an impressive Rolodex, he has an unparalleled string of case studies to hand in Conquering the Chaos.” — The Financial Times

“Few corporate chieftains in India bother to step back and think analytically about the business landscape, and Mr. Venkatesan's account brims with interesting anecdotes and useful insights.” — The Wall Street Journal

“It (the book) is largely interesting, especially when real life examples are provided.” — Financial Express

“This is a book every HR manager should read and should, subtly or otherwise, slip to the top of the pile for the senior line team to digest.” — Canadian HR Reporter

“The book is a great primer for international companies doing business India, which given the way the global economy is shifting base, should include just about every company above a certain size.”
“this (book) is an excellent starting point for a company seeking to enter to reevaluate its business in India.” — Business India

“The book is a must read for all those who want to know about the complexities of doing business in India.” “The author weaves the India story with interesting case studies, narratives of his own experience as well as anecdotes and insights from some of the best global minds and CEOs who have been closely associated with the Indian market.” — Business World magazine

ADVANCE PRAISE for Conquering the Chaos:

Bill Gates, Chairman and cofounder, Microsoft—
“Ravi Venkatesan’s clear and candid look at doing business in India should be on the reading list of any business leader who wants to better understand India and other emerging markets. Conquering the Chaos is insightful and thoroughly readable.”

Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company—
“Ravi Venkatesan has written a compelling account of how to create value in India in ways that can also be transferred to many other markets. He provides a unique and practical perspective on how to execute on the promise of emerging markets—even in tough times—through deep research on several companies and rich insights from his own leadership of Microsoft and Cummins in India.”

N. R. Narayana Murthy, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Infosys—
Conquering the Chaos is a one-of-its-kind book on winning in emerging markets, especially India. Ravi Venkatesan deeply understands the pulse of the Indian consumer and the dynamics of the market. The author’s experiences make the book an extremely stimulating read. A must-read for all leaders of multinationals aspiring to capitalize on emerging markets.”

Louis Schweitzer, former Chairman of Renault and AstraZeneca; Director, BNP Paribas, Volvo, and L’Oréal—
“Ravi Venkatesan, in his easy-to-read, fact-filled book, based on his own unparalleled experience and knowledge of India, presents an unvarnished and balanced view of the country’s tremendous challenges and opportunities, both as a market and as a production base. India in this century will be the world’s most populous nation, perhaps the world’s largest economy, and certainly the most complex one. If you want to succeed in the twenty-first century, you must succeed in India, and Ravi Venkatesan will help you do just that.”

John L. Flannery, President and CEO, GE India—
“An outstanding, informative book that is much more than a manual for winning in India. It is a manual for winning in every emerging market. I wish I had had it at my disposal three years ago, when I started in my role.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422184307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422184301
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B.Sudhakar Shenoy on August 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
China and India have suddenly become prominent on the strategic radar of many western multinational companies in the last two decades. Every company wants a piece in the rapidly expanding economic pie, ever since these countries have opened up and integrated into the global economy.

Several books have been written on engaging China and India. What makes this book very different and more practical from the rest from an India perspective is that this is a feet on the ground true story, giving a 360 degree view of doing business in India.

Ravi Venkatesan's vast India CEO experience in two very different companies, Microsoft and Cummins has given him the rare and distinctive advantage of an ability to cut across industry verticals and synthesise the lessons that apply to almost any MNC company in India.

Firstly he has brought out excellent frameworks to understand the Indian market that most big MNCs would tend to oversimplify. The book explains the need to understand the Indian customer from a up ground perspective, rather than simply trying to sell what sells well in the west.

The need to integrate India as strategic piece of the global corporate strategy is an important point. Many big successful companies have miserably failed in India, since they have not taken this seriously. On the other hand, as an example, relatively smaller global company like JCB commands over 75 per cent market share in the back hoe market in India, while the bigger players are struggling. JCB's India focus, global CEO's personal involvement, India specific product development, integrated value chain and a countrywide sales and servicing network to attain the preeminent position is a great example.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Conquering Chaos during a recent short break. Great book. Very relevant for managers working in India and business leaders across the world doing business with India. Most companies tinker with India in a half-hearted way and the author clearly articulates why it is a bad strategy. I can relate this experience with my own learnings from MNC's trying to setup India based product engineering and technology solutions centres and not being able to scale to fully autonomous product groups servicing the global including emerging markets. People expect things - like availability of experienced people, good infrastructure, orderly society - and find it difficult to relate to the chaos and most importantly adapt to it. There are few who have been successful. And the author captures most of the areas of focus required to make this transition.

Escaping the midway trap is my favourite topic which has been covered very well in the book. I believe it is relevant for professionals as much as for businesses. The authors recent series in ET ([...] talks about it. The author does a great job of articulating how the focus on developing people should be high on the leaders agenda given the shortage of experience people especially with hard skills like product engineering, supply chain, closing and managing large deals. Importance of the country manager and the team

In summary, the author does a great job of identifying the major challenges in building a business in India and lays out a path for professionals and businesses to make India as an innovation hub. Well worth the time spent reading and internalising this book. Wish I had this book a decade ago.
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Emerging economies tend to be plagued by glaring supply-demand mismatches in almost every sphere - this most often means that demand hopelessly exceeds supply, but occasionally the opposite too. Many aspects taken as fundamental to business or social wellbeing in developed countries simply do not exist. Deprivation levels can be staggering. Often, the most appalling shortage of all is that of governance.

For MNCs, this represents a daunting business landscape - a jarring journey in space and time away from the relatively placid world they're accustomed to (some MNCs can be forgiven if they wonder if they're on the same planet !). Inequity and shortages make a combustible combination that can come as a cognitive shock. At the same time, as these nations leapfrog into the modern era by rebuilding creaky infrastructures, and their populations play catch-up with western standards of living, they represent enormous commercial opportunity. Braving this reality often needs a Herculean effort - and an abandonment of many cherished business beliefs. MNCs that wholeheartedly embrace this roiling reality thrive. The graveyards of business are littered with MNCs that were half-hearted, or facilely assumed that this is yet another "geography" - alongside the many business myths their experiences laid to rest.

This book, probably the first of a new and much-needed genre, provides a playbook for navigating these difficult waters. It primarily focuses on cracking the labyrinthine puzzle that is the Indian market. Companies tend to stick to the familiar - business models, assumptions about consumer and market behavior - and try to make do with a few tweaks to fit the idiosyncratic Indian regulatory environment etc.; this book teaches that such a force-fit is unlikely to work.
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