Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less
Robert I. Sutton, Huggy Rao
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Amazon Best Books of the Year list, Business & Investing
Inc.com 10 Best Business Books of 2014
Financial Times - The Pick of 2014's Management Books
The Globe & Mail’s list of 5 Best Business Books in 2014
Library Journal’s list of 5 Best Business Books in 2014
In Scaling Up Excellence, bestselling author Robert Sutton and Stanford colleague Huggy Rao tackle a challenge that determines every organization’s success: scaling up farther, faster, and more effectively as a program or an organization creates a larger footprint. Sutton and Rao have devoted much of the last decade to uncovering what it takes to build and uncover pockets of exemplary performance, to help spread them, and to keep recharging organizations with ever better work practices. Drawing on inside accounts and case studies and academic research from a wealth of industries – including start-ups, pharmaceuticals, airlines, retail, financial services, high-tech, education, non-profits, government, and healthcare -- Sutton and Rao identify the key scaling challenges that confront every organization. They tackle the difficult trade-offs that organizations must make between “Buddhism” versus “Catholicism” -- whether to encourage individualized approaches tailored to local needs or to replicate the same practices and customs as an organization or program expands. They reveal how the best leaders and teams develop, spread, and instill the right mindsets in their people -- rather than ruining or watering down the very things that have fueled successful growth in the past. They unpack the principles that help to cascade excellence throughout an organization, as well as show how to eliminate destructive beliefs and behaviors that will hold them back.
Scaling Up Excellence is the first major business book devoted to this universal and vexing challenge. It is destined to become the standard bearer in the field.
The chapters in Scaling Up Excellence spell out these lessons. Our efforts to boil down this challenge to its essence and develop practical recommendations were shaped by four big lessons that emerged during our journey. These lessons not only helped us write this book, they are useful mental provisioning for anyone contemplating—or in the throes of—the Problem of More. Lessons from Our Journey Our first big lesson is that, although the details and daily dramas vary wildly from place to place,
e-mail, or surf the Web, while simultaneously trying to listen and talk with colleagues, teachers, or loved ones, and—for good measure—perhaps do housework, write a report, or drive a car to boot. Despite claims that younger people who grew up with these gizmos are more adept at such juggling acts than their parents or grandparents, numerous studies show that multitasking undermines everyone’s competence. The late Cliff Nass and his Stanford colleagues also found that multitasking skills aren’t
what they can bear. When that happens, people ignore their best intentions, work on the wrong tasks, shift focus too often, and perform less well at everything they attempt. Scaling provides a potential antidote: adding people to share the load. Most scaling adventures—whether starting a restaurant chain or spreading better practices in hospitals—begin with one or two people, or perhaps a small team. And if there is a whiff of success, they add or attract more help. Unfortunately, although extra
teams that spread excellence act the same way, ruthlessly spotting and removing crummy or useless rules, tools, and fools that clog up the works and cloud people’s minds. IDEO’s David Kelley told us a great old story about how Steve Jobs lived the subtraction mindset. In the 1980s, Apple hired Kelley’s innovation firm to help design their first mouse. Kelley’s designers were on hand when Jobs decided the mouse would have one button rather two. Apple’s engineers argued vehemently for two buttons
refined in fifteen test branches a week or so after it was created. It then took only two months to “cascade it out” to several thousand branches. This load buster reduced waiting time by 35 percent during peak times and added “negligible incremental costs.” Traffic lights were one of many service innovations developed, tested, and scaled via the “lab” and “test” branches. Bugrov told us that these changes saved Sberbank nearly a billion dollars a year and, according to internal surveys, led to