Are you ready to scale? Get Started

Mark Jacobs


Mark B. Jacobs has spent 30 years in executive leadership successfully guiding major growth initiatives – many starting as turnaround efforts. He has led re-capitalizations, start-ups, and key organizational change agendas that have scaled company growth and performance. He co-authored the SmartScale process which is built on his years of hands-on experience and expertise in Lean Manufacturing, Quality Systems, Sales & Operations Planning, Category Design & Development, Leadership Development, and Technology-Driven transformations.

Most strategies kill midlife, middle-market companies’ ability to scale.

Here’s why you need to know this:

Legacy approaches to strategy deliver obsolete results. To make strategy a value-creation stimulus for achieving scale, you must rethink how you think about strategy.

Here are the takeaways:

  • In most mid-life, middle-market companies, a flood of naïve guidance and simplistic frameworks has dumbed down the strategy process.
  • A Scale Strategy is a design for coordinating and focusing actions on delivering the customers a better version of themselves. It is a clear, differentiated perspective supporting bold, coherent moves.
  • A Scale Strategy contains three elements:
    • A diagnosis (what is the Customers’ better version of themselves, and what are the obstacles to their achieving that?)
    • A guiding approach (What are our shared values and shared purpose?)
    • A coherent action framework (What's going on now, what needs to be true, and how will we execute to bridge the gap?)
  • Scaling companies have a protocol for gaining insight into the Customers' better version of themselves and why that version matters.
  • Producing this “better version” becomes the company's shared purpose.
  • A Scaling Strategy comes to life through tactical plans. These are the actions an organization will implement and the efforts it will avoid while bringing the Strategy to life.
    • Leadership’s responsibility during the creation and execution of tactical plans is to identify the most significant challenges/obstacles to strategy achievement and design a coherent approach to overcoming them.
  • Indicators of a flawed Scaling Strategy:
    • Gobbledygook strung together in an attempt to sound intelligent or insightful
    • Failure to recognize or define the challenge of delivering the customers a better version of themselves
    • Mistaking goals for strategy
    • A statement of ambition, a fluffy “vision,” a list of high-sounding goals, or an appeal for change rather than a framework for overcoming obstacles
    • A strategic objective unsupported by a diagnosis, guiding approach, and coherent action framework

What to do:

If you are using a legacy strategy approach that focuses on “Competitive Advantage” (being better, faster, cheaper) and “Goal Setting,” you're not building a scaling strategy. Start with an understanding of the customers' better version of themselves, build a guiding approach around the better version that aligns with your organization's shared values and purpose, and construct a coherent action framework to move from where you are to where you are giving your customers the defined better version of themselves.

How to do it:

Go Deeper: If you want greater detail about how to scale your midlife business, check out The Mid-Life Business Acceleration Story: A New Perspective on Disruptive Transformation and Exponential Growth

Collaborate with us and see where it takes your business

Unlock your ability to scale