Kick-Starting The Woodland Flywheel

By: John F.C. Cheong  (PDF Download: XYZ Model or XYZ Map + W Game Plan or W Map)

Background: Amazed at how much strategic clarity is captured in a simple graphic like the "Amazon Flywheel" (originally a napkin sketch by Jeff Bezos), I was inspired to try my hand at constructing an analogous flywheel for Woodland School, while thoughts are still fresh from having recently attended Woodland's State of the School presentation. The Woodland Flywheel (see cover image) would serve nicely as a visual aid to help keep track of the school's overall Big Picture which otherwise resembles this Rube Goldberg contraption.

Unlike Amazon, Woodland School does not have the bottomless backing of the capital market to finance unlimited growth. Nor is Woodland venture-backed with a generous war chest like the AltSchool. Woodland's near-term strategic and financial goal is more modest and achievable: fill 50+ seats to bring in $1M+ of annual operating profits so as to pare down its $4M debt; hopefully before the receding tide of the "baby bust" post Great Recession (circa 2009) begins to hit home!

"So how does one imagine Woodland School would go about doing that?", I began to ponder plausible scenarios upon conclusion of the SoS meeting, where parents lingered to offer up ideas and suggestions. There was genuine excitement in the air. So after a little bit of tinkering with variables, numbers and stats over the ensuing weekends, out came two sets of slides: the first to introduce a 3-factor "XYZ" model for school attraction as a common rubric, and the second to outline a "W" game plan ("W" for Woodland) to illustrate how Woodland School might realize its new mission and vision by way of kick-starting the Woodland Flywheel. I call this particular instance of model-based planning "W+XYZ" (what else?).

So what do you think?