We’re The Incubator School, a.k.a. IncSchool, a small, free, Los Angeles Unified public school that thinks and acts like a startup in order to nurture students who will launch startups. We want our young innovators to thrive in a changing world full of knotty problems that need their solving skills.

Our mission, quite simply, is Startup Students. We are a mission-driven organization: when in doubt, we return to that mission statement to help navigate our path forward. It's a tool--a compass. Defining that simple mission took a year.

We urge you, as you build or redesign your school, to start there: what is your mission? What are you promising the families who entrust children to your care? Have the conversations to define that promise (they may be long and complicated and full of conflict). When you have arrived at a consensus, then create a SIMPLE, EASY mission statement. Again: simple, easy. Can you say it (without looking)? Will the students be able to use it? The staff? Will families? Your mission brings your entire community together.

In our three years of existence, we’ve had a lot of successes--in part, because our mission is so clear to everyone. We’ve also made a lot of mistakes that grew us, sometimes painfully. We’ve been in the public eye since before our launch, so you can read about our journey through the media.

Many individuals and institutions around our city and the globe have requested information about how we’re doing what we’re doing. Thanks to LA2050 and the Goldhirsh Foundation, which awarded us a 100K LEARN grant in 2014, we’ve been able to create this playbook that shares our model and the methods (and madness) behind it.

Our objective is to make this playbook as practical and globally user-friendly as possible. To this end, we’re not including rationales and research, though there are plenty behind what we do.

How To Use This Playbook

We urge you to pick one area--any area--for change and start there. Really commit to it. Look at, try, adapt our toolkit for that area. Be prepared to fall flat and fail--and learn from what didn't work. Be prepared to be excited and then demoralized and resistant. Push through it. Experiment in your school and develop your own tools (and upload them here for the community to use). Create hypotheses and test them. Gather data and analyze what's working and what's not. And encourage students to participate in their own versions of this process, with all its emotional and intellectual ups and downs. We call this recursivity (see the tile on humans, below). This is how you create an communal entrepreneurial mindset.

And when you're ready, try another area for change. And so on. 

There are toolkits for every area of change below except for vision. There already are lots of visioning toolkits, so why reinvent the wheel? You can find them herehere, here, and here.

Please let us know where the playbook is useful and where it needs improving. And please upload tools you've created so we can crowdsource entrepreneurship in schools and problem-solve together. Collaboration is the only way to create schools that students actually want to attend.

My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.

--Steve Jobs, Co-founder, Apple