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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, Insightful Business Strategy Book- A Must Read
While it is often easy to see patterns of failure in business, it is very challenging to replicate success. That is why I was so intrigued with the methodology behind Les McKeown's new book Predictable Success. I have engaged with over a thousand entrepreneurs and businesses in my career and Les' insights on how to structure and manage an organization would provide value...
Published on June 7, 2010 by Carol Roth

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Solid ideas - too much repeat
Many good ideas and solid analysis, but the author repeats himself almost pathologically. It appears that the book was purposefully inflated, perhaps to give the perception of more value. This book should be less tha half the page count.
Published on November 3, 2011 by Anthony Kempka


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, Insightful Business Strategy Book- A Must Read, June 7, 2010
By 
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
While it is often easy to see patterns of failure in business, it is very challenging to replicate success. That is why I was so intrigued with the methodology behind Les McKeown's new book Predictable Success. I have engaged with over a thousand entrepreneurs and businesses in my career and Les' insights on how to structure and manage an organization would provide value to every single one of them, from start-up to Fortune 500.

Les describes seven stages of the business lifecycle, with Predictable Success being at the peak.

First he describes how every business starts out in a struggle to find a sustainable and profitable market for your products/services before your capital runs out. This can take up to three-five years to master and there are pretty much two options- you succeed and move on to the next stage or if your capital runs out you fail, which happens to upwards of 85%+ of all new businesses. I know there are a lot of folks professing bootstrapping strategies, but as Les's model demonstrates, if you run out of capital before you find that sustainable, profitable market, you will end up in that majority end of the statistics. The compromise: be frugal and scrappy in your expenditures, but still have that capital available to give your business enough time to get its legs underneath it.

If you make it out of the early struggle, Les says you get to a high-growth stage called "Fun" (his highly technical term for it). The business grows rapidly, you begin to see the fruits of your labor, but as you grow, your business becomes more complex. Eventually, in your business' growth, you will get to a point where systems and processes are needed and the entrepreneur(s) can't just manage the business viscerally. This moves you from Fun to a stage called "Whitewater", which can be recognized by the fact that you start dropping the ball, so to speak, in one or more areas of your business. The bad news- it is an unavoidable part of growth. The good news- if you put the right processes and systems in place, you will make it out and put yourself into Predictable Success.

One of the biggest takeaways for entrepreneurs is that Whitewater is an unavoidable stage, but that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (or waterway, if you will).

While Les says that it is theoretically possible to stay in Predictable Success forever, just like people age, businesses can age too. And sometimes, managers go a bit berserk with the systems and processes to the point that everything has a system or process, often favoring form over function. When your business starts expending tons of energy and not moving forward (i.e. growing), then you are on the "Treadmill". This stage is critical- in Treadmill, you can fix things and infuse more entrepreneurial spirit in your organization and go back to Predictable Success. If you don't fix things in Treadmill, you head into the "Big Rut" and lose the ability to self-diagnose (and change).

There are many key insights for mature business in the book that describe what to do when the entrepreneurial spirit has been sucked out of your organization.

Regardless of the stage of your own business (and definitely if you advise other businesses) this is a very worthwhile read that will really help you hone your business structure.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and useful, June 8, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
Being a recovering entrepreneur myself and having taught entrepreneurship for the last 6 years, I've read a lot of books and reviewed a lot of frameworks. After a while, they all tend to sound the same. Not so here.

Les describes the stages of business growth (and decline!) in a simple but powerful way. With his ability to express complex business phases in a way that is easy to relate to, you can't read this book and NOT find yourself nodding as you get to the stages you've experienced in business. For me, the Whitewater phase in my own business sent me cowering into the middle of the boat and running back to Fun. Reading his description of how I got there (and why I ran away!) was incredibly insightful and it gave me ideas on how to approach it differently the next time.

Regardless of where you are in your business cycle, there is value here. With actionable examples and recommendations throughout the book, Les presents a clear framework to help you get to or stay in Predictable Success - a place where businesses should aspire to live!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Organization Lifecycles - plain and simple, June 7, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
I have to admit that I started "Predictable Success" with a lot of skepticism. I have read a lot about Organization Lifecyles and was wondering what new information could be there in this book.

I was pleasantly surprised and by the end of the book, I was glad that I read it. This is a book that will make learning and more importantly using that knowledge about "Organization Lifecycles" - plain and simple.

For those of you who may be new to this topic - let me elaborate a bit. Every organization goes through a lifecycle ( Les takes you through seven different stages in the book ) and what works in one stage may or may not work in the other stage. So having that knowledge will help you prepare well and the "do" the right things that will work for "that" stage.

I am giving a copy of this book to founders of all the companies that I am involved with.

Five stars for sure!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for business leaders, June 10, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
The book has been a great help in helping me clarify my thinking and developing three key areas of focus for moving us forward. The key input for me from PS was helping me realise that I need to do more with the decision making process and formalise it. I could no longer get away with my more impromptu style; having spent too long in corporate life I'd been holding onto the fun of the start-up style.

I'd highly recommend this very readable book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Your Organization "In the Zone", June 10, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
When a professional athlete is "in the zone", they become nearly unstoppable - from amazing three point proficiency in basketball to startling consistency at the plate during postseason major league baseball games - the elite performer clearly has what it takes to excell, especially under pressure.

In corporate America, most organizations are operating at a level far below "the zone"; they frequently have difficulty communicating to their employees what needs to be done to achieve long-term success; as a result, those employees aren't fully engaged in the process called "work", and productivity inevitably suffers. It's quite a mess out there.

It doesn't have to be that way. Les McKeown has identified the qualities successful enterprises employ to get on the growth track - "the zone" - and he was kind enough to put the instructions together in this terrific book. I've read hundreds of management books dealing with organizational success, and this one may be the best of them all. Certainly, the advice is beautifully simple and pragmatic, and it should benefit any sized entity; as long as the CEO has a desire to get on the right track; and stay there.

As McKeown notes, many orgnanizations are either operating in a total state of chaos, or they've become lifeless bureaucracies with little or no innovation; mired in the safe status-quo because nobody wants to get in trouble for making a mistake. Ironically, that way of doing business - which is so prevelant throughout corporate America - is a huge mistake; and it's why so many corporations are struggling, and why our economy has been on life-support in recent years.

It's time for a real "change", America; the blueprint is contained right here in the pages of this wonderful book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Predictable Success - How you lost it, the way to get it back and how to keep it!!, June 8, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
For all those business leaders and managers who want to get their business to optimum performance then this is the book to read.

McKeown is one of the few business authors that have lived and breathed all stages in the business journey. Having founded over 40 companies in his life and advised many hundreds more his understanding of all the stages in the life cycle of business comes from years of "hands on" experience in running successful companies and then assisting others to do the same.

This book looks at the corporate life cycle from a profound angle and identifies the common factors that affect all organisations performance including the complexity of the organisational structures, decision making processes, the degree of alignment with organisational goals, and the level of employee accountability and ownership. It explains why business evolve in the way that they do from early start/fun stages to complex bureaucracies....the book tells you why they go through these stages and what you need to do to stay at the top. Common issues and problems are identified but more importantly the solutions presented are realistic and actionable. This book is not a theory, an academic analysis or a suggestion as to "what might work" but rather McKeown presents business fact, a reality of the way all companies perform and this is clearly based on his own personal experience and analysis of hundreds of businesses in a range of sectors over a significant period of time.

My business, and I personally, have benefited greatly from the insights and advice this book delivers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blueprint for Predictable Success, June 7, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
Les has long provided training and consulting for our business. In his new book, "Predictable Success," Les delivers a mouthwatering business model that examines the cycle of an organization from early struggle to treadmill to death rattle. The content is delivered in intuitive bite-sized components sure to please academians and practical readers alike. After reading this you will be eager to ponder, dream and apply the learnings. This is a must read for all who have a vested interest in the success of their organization.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unpredictably powerful advice - and results!, June 9, 2010
By 
Ron Kaufman "Author, UP Your Service!" (Based in Singapore, Serving Worldwide) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
The title sounded too simple at first - like Success can really be "predicted"? I was skeptical, but then I read the book. Les has the deep, detailed and diverse business building background to know exactly what he is talking about. And from his many businesses and countless consulting gigs, he clearly knows what needs to be done to get to, well, it's true, "Predictable Success".

I run a small business that is growing and inevitably hitting the exact issues that Les outlines in the "Fun" to "Whitewater" stages. Our entire team has read this book, and we are now deep in the application stage, following step by step Les' advice. And it's WORKING. Les' clarity, coaching and specific suggestions for action have given our team a rallying point for focused action. We are not "there" yet, but we know we are on the right track.

If you have a business at any stage in of business growth (or decay), this is the book that will make you say "Woah! How did this guy know that? and That? and THAT!?" Even more important, this is the book that will make you say "Thank goodness. Now I can see exactly what we need to do next."

The only thing after that, of course, is to do it.

Bottom line: an easy read, an eye-opening analysis, and an immediately applicable action plan that works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Meta" on business life cycles, June 10, 2010
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This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
As a business owner, I am constantly wondering if my business is where it is supposed to be. I found the answer in this book. More importantly, I now understand why my business is where it is and how create a balance of risk-taking and systems that will take my organization to the next level. This book is the "meta" on business lifecycles. Once you have identified your business's postion on Les' model, the real learning (the how to..) happens in Part II...

Read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immediately applicable, June 8, 2010
This review is from: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There (Hardcover)
There were several reasons I loved this book: 1) I could immediately understand the model Les introduced, and felt I had actually seen it in operation for myself already in many organizations--only now I had words to describe what I was seeing; 2) Reading through the phases of the model, I understood how each one is normal and follows on the one before, and why...and how to move more quickly through them if need be; 3) It made clear not only how to achieve "Predictable Success," but how challenging that is; 4) Clear, specific, practical techniques were used throughout the book--I felt I could go out and begin to apply what I was reading immediately.

In addition, I thought Les's writing style was highly enjoyable. He manages to deliver a large amount of substantive content in a way that upheld my interest and also had me laughing out loud at times. After reading the book, I feel I am better equipped to recognize, diagnose, and assist clients and customers who are looking to achieve Predictable Success. And who wouldn't want to do that? I also appreciated the depth of the author's own business experience, as well as his extensive consulting experience with other businesses. He has "been there and done that himself," so he's not just speaking from theory.

A very valuable and highly readable book.
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Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track--and Keeping It There
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