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, Salesforce.com, 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.