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Questions and Answers with Phyllis

How did you first become interested in investigating the success and failure patterns of business growth?
I first became intrigued with this topic as an analyst calculating market potential estimates for new lines of business that my large corporate employer was pursuing. Reflecting my undergraduate major in mathematics, at that point my work was highly quantitative and included a lot of statistical modeling for sales forecasting. With experience, I began to see the limitations of the quantitative techniques, and I realized the importance of a broader understanding of the dynamics of the business. For meaningful insight to emerge from the data, I found that a solid grasp of the driving forces behind the business was essential.

As I developed those market potential estimates, I began asking myself what really determines the potential for success in new lines of business? What really makes new products and new ventures succeed? I set out to put my natural curiosity and my love of discovering answers to work investigating this topic. I've been intrigued with it ever since, and I have dedicated much of my life to finding the success and failure patterns in business growth.

How has your topic expanded from What Makes New Products and New Ventures Succeed to What are the Success and Failure Patterns in Business Growth?
I enjoy divergent thinking, so I explored my topic from many angles. As I did this, my topic broadened from What makes New Products and New Ventures Succeed? to What Makes Business Growth Succeed? Since business growth has many facets, my topic expanded beyond new products and new ventures to include innovation and change, diversification, marketing strategy, use of marketing research and information, and lessons huge corporations can learn from the most successful entrepreneurs. All of these growth related areas are driven by some of the same underlying patterns.

How Do the Patterns Lead to Winning Moves that Drive Successful Growth?
From researching these patterns for over 20 years, I have found that companies grow successfully by making what I call Winning Moves. Winning Moves are based upon the patterns of success and failure in business growth. Companies prosper by making one Winning Move after another.

Companies succeed only by making a series of Winning Moves, and when they do so repeatedly, companies are perceived as being great or excellent. But, when the patterns of success are ignored and the Winning Move stop, even the most highly regarded companies easily run into trouble. That's why there is no such thing as great companies, nor are there excellent companies. Success endures only when the Winning Moves continue.