Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less

Book cover for Scaling Up Excellence

Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less

Crown Business, 2014

Scaling Up Excellence shows what it takes to build and uncover pockets of exemplary performance, spread those splendid deeds, and as an organization grows bigger and older — rather than slipping toward mediocrity or worse — recharge it with better ways of doing the work at hand. Bestselling author Robert Sutton and his Stanford GSB colleague Huggy Rao devoted seven years to studying how the best leaders and teams spread constructive beliefs, behaviors, and practices from those who have them to those who need them. They show what it takes to spread a mindset, not just a footprint, as a program or organization expands. Their insights are based on diverse case studies, hundreds of interviews with scaling veterans, and rigorous academic studies on organizations including Facebook, Google, Pixar, Joie de Vivre hotels, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Girl Scouts, Rocketship Charter Schools,, IKEA, IDEO, U.S. Marines combat teams, JetBlue Airlines, General Electric, NASCAR pit crews at Hendricks Motorsports, and recent start-ups such as Pulse News and Bridge International Academies.

Rao and Sutton dissect the most crucial points that decision makers face, especially how to navigate the Buddhism” versus “Catholicism” continuum — whether to encourage 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 success in the past. They unpack principles that help to cascade excellence throughout an organization including link “hot causes to cool solutions” and build organizations where people feel as “I own the place and the place owns me,” and show how to eliminate destructive beliefs and behaviors to clear the way for excellence to spread.

Selected Editorial Reviews
A great read that provides real, practical advice whether you're a team of 5 or 50,000. Sutton and Rao find just the right stories to show how almost any team can get bigger and better.
Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of People Operations, Google
Scaling Up Excellence is one of the finest business books you'll ever read. It is rich with vivid examples, deep research, and practical advice on the toughest challenge organizations confront: how to spread success from a few small pockets of an organization to its entire fabric. Whether you're an entrepreneur who wants to get big, a CEO who wants to avoid stagnation, or a non-profit executive who wants make a deeper difference, Scaling Up Excellence is an essential read – a playbook that belongs on the desk of every leader.
Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
A must-read. Renowned experts Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao are the first to tackle a pervasive problem that every leader faces: spreading and multiplying success. This landmark book is full of rich examples, powerful studies, and actionable insights for anyone who cares about making groups or organizations more effective.
Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
Scaling Up Excellence is the best book I’ve ever seen on making an organization’s vision come true. Sutton and Rao have created a deeply practical guide that is also a great read, grounded equally in astonishing stories and rigorous research. No matter what you do for a living, read this book to figure out how to link your short-term realities to long-term dreams.
Teresa M. Amabile, professor, Harvard Business School and coauthor, The Progress Principle
Scaling Up Excellence is a masterpiece. I have been wrestling with the same conundrum for 30 years, and I simply marvel at the way Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao have disentangled this supremely important Gordian knot.
Tom Peters, bestselling author of In Search of Excellence
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