Scaling School

Scaling School

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:

1.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.

2. They should emphasize experiential learning

3. They should provide students with not just the education, but the money, mentors. leadership teams and connections to open innovation networks

4. The process should be lean

5. 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 not inventions, improvement or innovations.

6. They should be laboratories to create minimally viable pilots

7. They should have clearly defined innovation outcomes and impact metrics

8. They should have a dedicated leadership team that is held accountable for results

9. The school should be closed if they are not producing high performance students

10. The sponsoring organization should have clearly defined and aligned innovation objectives and strategic priorities.

11. Emphasize financing the growth phase, sales, marketing, business development, sales operations and staffing. Use simulations like this one from Harvard Business School publications. In this simulation students experience the challenges of taking a disruptive innovation from initial success with early adopters to widespread adoption by the mainstream market.

12. We should target physicians who don’t necessarily want to be a startup founder, but, instead, want to participate in some other role. They need to take a separate track in CMO school.

We need more scalerators, not more accelerators and they should admit entrepreneurs who are ready, willing and able to change their leadership style and who achieved certain milestones, like customers, employees, revenue and funding. Examples are the Blackstone Entrepreneurial Network and Innosphere.

Playing the role of co-founder and CEO of a self-driving vehicle technology firm, students are tasked with achieving the growth promised by their technology. They will assess a variety of market opportunities and develop an appropriate strategy for their target segments in an effort to bridge the early adopter and mainstream markets, and successfully “cross the chasm.”

The simulation is based on Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm (3.0) framework.

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.

Get the Change Planning Toolkit from Braden Kelley

Image credit: Pixabay

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Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at and co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship

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Arlen Meyers

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine ,teaches bioentrepreneurship and is Chief Medical Officer for Bridge Health and Cliexa. He is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at and author of the Life Science Innovation Roadmap.




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