Archive | Strategy

Bringing Innovation to HR Strategy: Highlights of the 2013 SHRM Strategy Conference


We’re living in a VUCA world, said Dr. Tom Hogan at the 2013 SHRM Strategy conference. And, indeed, that was the talk of the conference.

VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Each of the speakers I heard shared thoughts, models, tools, and stories about how companies can succeed in a VUCA world.

Thinking Has Become a Daring Act

“Thinking has become a daring act,” keynote speaker Lisa Bodell (@LisaBodell) proclaimed. After all, she explained, what happens when we walk into an office to see someone staring out the window? We wonder why they’re not working. The act of thinking is seen as something frivolous, time-wasting, and counter-productive.

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

"What Got You Here Won't Get You There" panel at the 2013 Inc 500 | 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.

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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!

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Maya Townsend Presents “Networked Organizations” in Boston, September 2013


Companies work in complex, overlapping, constantly changing environments. Today’s customer landscape is not tomorrow’s. And who knows what the economy will do? Yet companies need to produce and perform consistently amidst these changes. Creative companies find opportunities in their ecosystems amidst the tumult. In “Networked Organizations,” led by Partnering Resources founder Maya Townsend on September 19, 2013 for the Mass Bay OD Learning Group, participants learn methods that help OD consultants and their clients navigate their strategic landscape.

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The Power Five: Better Decisions through Strategic Questions

strategic questions

People are always looking for their magic wand: a miraculous tool that will immediately and painlessly improve the problem at hand. I haven’t found a magic wand yet. But this tool is the closest I’ve found so far.

The Power Five are five strategic questions that uncover expectations, assumptions, inter-dependencies, and impacts. They’re five of the best questions to use in any situation and bringing them into any decision-making, strategy, or planning conversation will improve the likelihood of a positive outcome.

The five questions are:

  • What is the goal?
  • Where are we now?
  • How will we get where we want to go?
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    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?

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    The Forest and the Trees: Managing in Business Ecosystems

    The Forest and the Trees: Managing Business Ecosystems

    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.

    Today, it’s time for us to spend a little less time looking at the animal tracks in our organizations and a little more time looking at the forest as a whole.

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    Just Published: Using Business Ecosystem Mapping to Navigate Complexity

    Youth Value Network Map

    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.

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    Being Better: Strategic Leadership for Business Ecosystems

    Adaptive Business Ecosystems. Image from the <a href="">Alliance for Business Innovation</a>

    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.

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    Curing Business Ecosystems Blindness

    Evolution into business ecosystems. Image by Dion Hinchcliffe, Dachis Group.

    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.

    To identify entities in your business ecosystem, ask these questions:

    What and who does the company depend on in order to operate?

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