Predictable Success, Truth Telling, Dealmakers, and Ecosystems: Highlights from the Inc 5000 Conference

Inc 5000 was the highest energy conference I’ve ever attended. The power in the room was palpable: these entrepreneurs, builders of the fastest growing companies in America, have created the truly wonderful out of nothing. During the two days, I met CEOs from companies that license film clips, create employee feedback and badge software, and give military kids a scouting experience.

Besides meeting these amazing entrepreneurs, the other conference highlights were the keynote speakers. Here are a few highlights from my favorite keynoters: Les McKeown, Jack Stack, Lewis Schiff, and Ted Zoller.

Les McKeown, author of Predicable Success and The Synergist

I’m a Predictable Success fan (you can find my Predictable Success cheat sheet here).

“What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” at the Inc 5000 Conference

“Everyone knows the law of large numbers: the bigger you grow, the harder it is to grow fast. But mathematics isn’t the only cloud threatening a successful company’s parade. “The growth that landed you on the Inc. 5000 carries with it the seeds of problems you didn’t have when you were smaller,” Inc.’s editor in chief, Eric Schurenberg, warned the audience at the annual Inc. 5000 conference.

“What got you here won’t get you there. So what will get you there?”

This article by Leigh Buchanan of Inc magazine will tell you. Partnering Resources founder Maya Townsend, one of the three panelists at the Inc 5000 conference, and is featured in the article.

Maya Townsend Presents “Understanding Business Ecosystems” at the SHRM Strategy Conference

SHRM Strategy Conference Logo

Today’s customer landscape is not tomorrow’s. Yesterday’s star employees are not today’s. And who knows what the economy will do? Yet companies need to continue performing amidst these changes. It’s hard to see the forest-the ecosystem-when you’re stuck in the weeds.

Partnering Resources founder Maya Townsend presents a simple, yet robust, methodology for mapping business ecosystems and explore how HR professionals can use this strategic tool to benefit their companies at the 2013 SHRM Strategy conference. Participants will learn:

  • What ecosystems are and why they matter HR professionals
  • How two organizations–eCopy and the Austin Health Adolescent Initiative–used business ecosystem mapping to understand their environment
  • The process for conducting a business ecosystem assessment

Join Partnering Resources founder Maya Townsend at the SHRM Strategy Conference in San Diego!

Visions of Business Ecosystems


Incredible complexity. So many moving parts. Almost impossible to fully understand and depict. These are all descriptions of business ecosystems. Yet people continue to try to understand the big picture—their environment—and how it affects their companies. There’s good reason to do so. If companies can improve their understanding of their ecosystem, they have an edge that can help them find opportunities, assess potential threats, find collaborators, and monitor trends. In this post, we’ll look at a few different ways organizations depict and understand their business ecosystems.

The Corvallis Business Ecosystem

How do you get politicians, business owners, programmers, and staff members on the same page?

The Forest and the Trees: Managing in Business Ecosystems

Spring Forest
When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to hike with my parents. We would romp through forests, looking at interesting lizards and trees, finding animal tracks, and admiring the sounds of bird calls. We would arrive at our destination, usually the top of some peak. We'd get to look at the entire forest -- the trails we followed, the lakes we missed, the cloud formations -- and we'd feel awed and satisfied. We had been in that forest, but now we could see it from above.

Just Published: Using Business Ecosystem Mapping to Navigate Complexity

Excerpt from “Finding Value”: an article just published by OD Practitioner.

Several years ago, I was hired by a software client to help with strategic planning. When the company started fifteen years ago, its product was revolutionary but its uniqueness was not a permanent state. Other companies were offering software that provided similar functions. The channel partner who sold the company’s software was now offering a competitive product. Furthermore, hardware companies were embedding the software’s features into devices like printers, scanners, and faxes. This company needed help figuring out how to move forward amidst these challenges.

Eight years later and 2000 miles away, a diverse group came together to improve the health of adolescents in Austin, TX.

Being Better: Strategic Leadership for Business Ecosystems

If you live in a regulated monopoly, feel free to skip this post and go play golf. For the rest of you, here’s something important that you probably need to hear again:

  • Today’s successes are not individual successes. They’re collective successes.
  • Today’s businesses are not single entities. They’re part of complex ecosystems.
  • The methods you learned in business school are probably not helping you (unless you had some really hip professors).

What does this mean?

First: If you’re someone who gets more energy from doing it all yourself than from working through others, you probably shouldn’t be leading people. People used to talk about the shift from managing yourself and managing others.

Curing Business Ecosystems Blindness

Business ecosystems are complex and ever-changing. New companies enter, exit, and take on different roles constantly. So it’s impossible to fully map an ecosystem. However, leaders can develop insight into their ecosystems that can help them make smarter strategic decisions. To begin understanding your ecosystem, start by identifying entities.

Ecosystem entities are organizations that your company depends on in order to do its business. Entities can include supply chain partners such as suppliers and distributors. However, the ecosystem approach goes beyond the traditional supply chains to examine the more complex web in which a company operates.

What are Business Ecosystems?

I recently wrote about business ecosystems, adaptability, and change leadership. This post takes us back to the basics: what are business ecosystems?

Business ecosystems are dynamic webs of interdependent organizations that rely on each other for success.

Traditional thinking envisions companies as rivals, battling each other for dominance and profit. Today’s organizations operate in a more complex world. They integrate competition and cooperation in innovative and unexpected ways and they need each other in order to survive.

James F. Moore, who coined the term, explains that business ecosystems include those we’ve always considered to be part of a corporation: those inside the organization’s walls plus distribution channels and direct suppliers.

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