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In Scaling Up Excellence, best-selling author Robert Sutton and Stanford colleague Huggy Rao tackle a challenge that determines every organization’s success: scaling up further, 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. PDF Books World library is a high quality resource for free PDF books, which are digitized version of books attained the public domain status. Our mission is to transform the most popular works of legendary authors to modern reading room. We publish pdf books on many subjects for readers of all ages including Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic.

JULIA KIRBY: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast. I’m Julia Kirby, one of HBR editors. One of my favorite authors is here in the studio today. He’s Bob Sutton. He’s from Stanford’s department of management sciences and engineering and also d school at Stanford.

He’s the author of many articles in HBR over the years, and several great books. And his newest one is Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less,” which he wrote with Huggy Rao. Bob, thanks for coming.

BOB SUTTON: It’s great to be here. Good to see you, Julia.

JULIA KIRBY: So we always hear this phrase, how do we take this to scale? And we tend to associate that with like an entrepreneurial idea, maybe a small business that has the potential to be big. But it seems like when you use this word, “scaling,” you’re using it a little more expansively.

BOB SUTTON: We definitely are using it more expensively. And in fact, it’s interesting. When we first started setting scaling, we were setting it in health care and in education, where they have a little bit different meaning, which is you’ve got a great school or you’ve got a department that has a really low infection rate in a hospital. And how do you spread that little bit of magic so it becomes the norm?

And then, we also started, since I’m in Silicon Valley, noticing that they were using this word a lot in start ups. So as we looked more broadly, we were looking at cases of well, how do you grow Google? How you grow a little start up like Pulse?

If you have one great new restaurant– like in fact, there’s a great restaurant in San Francisco called Delfina and they’re opening a second location in Palo Alto. They’re trying not to mess it up. And so, how do you do that sort of scaling?

And so even though there are different ways to play it out, we kept realizing over and over again that there was this sometimes called the problem of more, where you’ve got a little bit of goodness and how you spread it further. And as you say, there are some differences in how it plays out, but there’s also remarkable similarity in terms of what it is as a leadership or management challenge. So that’s what the book is about.

JULIA KIRBY: So it’s pretty easy to see then how this adds up to a really important little body of knowledge for managers. Give me some advice. Let’s say, I’m the leader of an organization. And it has a lot of people working in different locations.

And maybe one of those groups is really killing it. And there’s some kind of magic going on there. And I wish it could be the norm throughout my empire.

BOB SUTTON: Throughout your empire.

JULIA KIRBY: How do I make that happen?

BOB SUTTON: Well, the first thing you’ve got– and I always like to start with this as a condition– is, it’s so obvious, it’s ridiculous. But some of the organizations we work with sometimes miss this, which is to scale excellence, you have to have excellence to scale. So the first thing you got to do is make sure it actually is excellent.

But assuming that’s the case, there’s a number of principles that we’ve come up with. One is just making a rational argument for spreading it, doesn’t usually work. It turns out, the way that we human beings operate– and there’s lots of research to support this– is you kind of got to get some emotional arousal or excitement around what you’re doing. So we call this linking a hot cause to a cool solution.

Just one example, one of the cases we talk a lot about in the book is the 100,000 Lives Campaign, which was led by a small nonprofit in Boston called the Institute for Health Improvement. And to kick off their campaign to get US hospitals to do really simple lifesaving things– like getting physicians to wash their hands, really very simple things– they started out with a conference where there was a mother whose child had died as a result of mistakes that were made at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

And also, one of my favorite parts, they had a nun, Sister Mary Jean Ryan, who runs a large health care system, basically say that it was a moral imperative. I guess maybe the implication was internal damnation if you didn’t sign up for the program. But then, what they did was, they had people sign up there.

And they had them follow these specific evidence-based practices. And it really does look like the number of preventable deaths in US hospitals between 2004 and 2006 went down over 100,000 as a result of the campaign. So to us, that’s the first one– hot cause, cool solution.

Another one that we see over and over again is when you’ve got an organization or a program and it’s expanding, it tends to get more and more complex. If you just think about it, the case of 100,000 Lives Campaign, the case of Google going from a couple of hundred people in Palo Alto to now 30,000, was one case that we looked at.

Even little organizations– one called Pulse we studied– went from four to 20 people. In the process, you always want to worry about keeping the cognitive complexity down. Because as organizations get bigger, there’s this tendency to put on more and more process and more and more structure.

And we’re, with all due respect to my colleague Gary Hamel, we do not believe that you should tear down the bureaucracy or have no hierarchy. What it looks like– and there’s quite a bit of evidence to support this– is that yes, you should keep things as simple as possible. But in the process, the way that I think of hierarchy, you use hierarchy to build good bureaucracy and destroy bad bureaucracy.

And this notion, we learned a lot of this from talking to a guy named Chris Frye, who’s now head of engineering at Twitter. But before that, he was head of the development organization at And he’s got this really sort of clear view, which is that your job as a leader is to create conditions where people actually will be more rather than less successful in their work, and to remove obstacles that are in their way. So I guess that would be another principle.

A related piece of advice that I would give you if you were trying to scale, is a good sign– and this is straight from the Chris Frye sort of handbook– is you want to give people just a little less structure and a little less process then you think they need. And sometimes– there’s this expression, give ground grudgingly.


So it should feel like they’ve got to think about it actively and there isn’t quite enough for them more to do, as opposed to the feeling that you’re walking in the muck. He this is a sign that we’ve got a little bit too much. So obviously, there’s a balancing act there.

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A couple of other bits of advice. This notion that when you’ve got excellence to spread, you don’t spread it like a thin coat of peanut butter is something that we see over and over again. When we see excellence spread, what tends to happen is there tends to be pockets that are developed, made wonderful, and then spread to the next pocket, often by the people who developed in the first place.

To give you two kind of different examples, one example we looked at the spread of basically the computerized medical records at Kaiser Permanente– which is the largest health care system in the United States– done by a team called the Tiger Team, led by a woman named Louise Liang. And what they did was they first got things really, really cranking in Hawaii, which is actually they’re smallest region.

And once that region was great, then they spread it to the next region. Then they spread it to the next region. And over nine years, they had one excellent roll out after another, because what you had was real pockets of expertise.

We saw the same thing in a case study we did at Wyatt of manufacturing improvements. And in that case, what they would do with implants is they would do mini-transformations, where they would get the efficiency and the quality going. And once they got that team trained, that team would then help train the next.

So this idea of connecting and cascading is something that we see over and over again as a principal. And I guess as sort of a final principal, if I was going to really emphasize– and kind of a play to Jim Collins’ famous book– our argument is that good to great is nice, but bad to great is really the sign of what it takes to spread excellence.

Because in the situations that we see excellence spread, the problem is is that bad behavior, bad norms, bad beliefs, are so destructive that if you don’t clear them out of the way, there’s no way that you can spread excellence. Just a little case study– one of the cases that we did, we actually had the CEO come and talk to our class.

Well, he described how he turned around a set of retail stores in the West Coast called Cost Plus. And he said, we basically had to get people to clean the bathrooms and to greet customers. They weren’t doing either one.

And once we sort of got rid of that kind of badness– oh, and also got rid of the most incompetent and destructive employees– once we did that, actually the turnaround ended up being quite easy, relatively speaking, because the bad stuff was out of the way. And there’s lots of other examples in the book. But the key point is that the first job of a manager is to get rid of the bad stuff if you want to spread excellence.

JULIA KIRBY: A great set of principles there for how to do scaling right. Have you also seen some patterns in what people do wrong, how they fail to scale?

BOB SUTTON: How they fail to scale. So that there’s a couple of different principles, and I think some of these are implied. And I guess to start with, the most important one is that when people start focusing on running up the numbers rather than spreading a mindset, that’s when they really get in trouble. And it’s almost like an irony.

When we look at the organizations that have scaled or spread excellence most effectively, they tend to take the time to sort of pull over, to– I don’t want to use the word brainwashing, but it actually might be accurate– to really get people with the right mindset in the place so that everybody is kind of on the same page. A great example of this is actually Facebook. Facebook as we know, especially between 2005 in 2012, just added users absolutely like crazy. Therefore, they had to hire a lot of engineers.

Despite– and actually they would argue, but because of that– it was very important to have people on the same page, operating on the same set of assumptions. So to this day– I just checked this out last week, when they hire new engineers– first of all, they don’t know exactly what role you’re going to go into.

Second, they bring you into a six-week boot camp, where the purpose of the boot camp is essentially to kind of basically instill the Facebook mindset in you by number one having you work on seven or eight different projects for different teams, so to sort of live the move-fast-and-break-things mindset, and also to understand the code base as a whole.

And in talking to Mike Schroepfer or “Schrep,” and there’s a guy named Chris Cox, who’s also head of product, they say that because they are having to scale and grow so fast, that keeping the culture under control is it especially important. And if you look at other organizations that have scaled quickly, but then went out of control– I hate to use a name, but Zinga has some of these characteristics– they tend to be sort of less focused on sustaining the culture.

I think Zinga is actually starting to come back a little bit in this regard. But nonetheless, it’s this notion that one of the biggest mistake organizations do is they focus so much on running up the numbers, they don’t focus on spreading the mindset.

JULIA KIRBY: One thing that is so great in the experience of reading the book are these kind of heroes that come out in the narrative. And there’s at least an implicit message that there’s a lot a leadership required in scaling. But at the same time, putting the emphasis on scaling up excellence, it’s sort of casting the whole role of the leader. I guess, do you have any particular advice for leaders, and what their mindset should be toward scaling?

BOB SUTTON: It is a couple of things about the mindset of scaling. One is, because it takes so long and it’s so difficult, sometimes when people hear that they say, oh, I’m not to start today. This seems so hard.

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And I think of Claudia Kotchka one of our scaling heroes, who help spread innovation practices throughout that huge company Procter & Gamble. And as Claudia said, my impatience combined with A. G. Lafley, the then and now CEO saying, Claudia, it’s going to take a long time. You’ve got to keep pushing. So you need that combination of daily impatience and realizing it’s going to take a long time.

And then the other thing which I would advise is, sometimes people say, well, scaling’s other people’s job. But when we see where it’s happened, and very often, it’s people who– another one of our scaling heroes, Bonnie Simi at JetBlue, who made some incredible changes in operations, she was a middle manager and a pilot. And they tend to be people who understand that excellence sort of starts with them. And they start from where they’re at.

So we have examples of senior executives. But we also have lots of examples of people who in their team, in their department, they’ll sort of step up and make something good happen. And so I guess there’s two lessons in that one, it’s not other peoples’ responsibilities. And two, the only way to make it happen is to start where you are with what you’ve got now.

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JULIA KIRBY: OK. That’s all we have time for today. It’s been a terrific conversation. Kknd 2 krossfire iso. Thank you so much for being here, Bob.

BOB SUTTON: Thank you, Julia.

Scaling Up Excellence Pdf free. download full

JULIA KIRBY: You’ve been listening to Bob Sutton from Stanford. His new book with Huggy Rao is Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less. For more, go to