Several years ago, I decided to give sailing a try. I started by going on a few local trips with some folks who owned a small boat and then, gradually, decided to improve my skills and confidence. Eventually, I completed “ground school” and then took several trips that required more and more skills, like navigation, man overboard drills, dealing with weather and un-grounding your boat.
We need to do the same thing with startups. Many have questioned the success rates of accelerators, innovation centers and innovation buildings as a way to make scaleable companies. Instead we need scalerators and scaling schools to get founders and their teams from point A to point B.
Here’s what should be included in the school catalogue:
- Scaling schools, like any school, should have clearly defined learning objectives based on market derived competencies, and a process that delivers the curriculum cheaply and fast.
- They should emphasize experiential learning
- They should provide students with not just the education, but the money, mentors. leadership teams and connections to open innovation networks
- The process should be lean
- The idea is to not just improve existing products and processes, but to create things that create substantial multiples of user defined value. Typically, that means at least 10x more value than what you are offering customers now. Here’s what you will learn about innovation and value and how ideas are inventions, improvement or innovations.
- They should be laboratories to create minimally viable pilots
- They should have clearly defined innovation outcomes and impact metrics
- They should have a dedicated leadership team that is held accountable for results
- The school should be closed if they are not producing high performance students
- The sponsoring organization should have clearly defined and aligned innovation objectives and strategic priorities.
Scaling schools should be designed to get you from the classroom to navigating choppy channels in the shortest time. Sooner than later, you will be in treacherous waters with considerable headwinds so you had better be prepared to know what to do when you lose your mast.
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