Learn to Grow Your Business “Without Screwing Up” in Free Online Course

Stanford scaling experts Huggy Rao and Robert Sutton teach what it takes to create, spread, and sustain excellence as a venture expands and matures.

August 19, 2014

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Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, speaks during the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle in March | Reuters/David Ryder

Stanford Graduate School of Business will launch a massive open online course on September 15, 2014 to help business leaders grow their organizations without falling prey to common pitfalls.

In this free five-week course called “Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up,” Stanford faculty experts Huggy Rao and Robert Sutton will share what they’ve learned during eight years of research in the field, as well as host business luminaries who will shed light on the real-world challenges they have conquered. Prospective participants may find more information, including a video overview, and register for the course online.

The course is inspired by the recent book coauthored by Rao and Sutton called Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less. Their premise is that scaling” isn’t just about getting bigger — it’s also about getting better, which can be a difficult proposition in an environment that rewards fast growth. “We are focused on how to create the right conditions for sustainable growth, without watering down the very things that have fueled a company’s success in the past,” says the pair.

According to Rao and Sutton, their goal is for course participants to come away with an understanding of how to select, train, and reward people to fuel the right kinds of growth; help teams do their work faster and more effectively as a venture grows; build a “scaling” team that can uncover and spread pockets of exemplary performance; and eliminate bad beliefs and behaviors that make it impossible to develop and spread excellence.

The five-week course is comprised of brief video lectures, first-hand lessons from well-known executives and venture capitalists, reading assignments, a multimedia case study, and team-based exercises. Some of the featured guests include Hearsay Social CEO and cofounder Clara Shih, Onyx Pharmaceuticals’ former CEO Anthony Coles, and Ben Horowitz, cofounder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Participants can expect to spend approximately four hours a week on all of the course elements and will receive a statement of accomplishment for completing all of the required activities. Selected team projects will be featured during a live webinar at the conclusion of the course.

Educational Technology at Stanford

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Professors Rao and Sutton have put into practice their own philosophy of scaling to bring their content to a broad audience.
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Ranga Jayaraman

This massive open online course is part of a larger Stanford GSB initiative to use technology to extend its expertise beyond its physical campus, as well as enhance the on-campus learning experience.

“Professors Rao and Sutton have put into practice their own philosophy of scaling to bring their content to a broad audience,” observes Ranga Jayaraman, associate dean and chief information officer at Stanford GSB. “Their efforts epitomize our institutional goal to use educational technology to transform the teaching and learning experience for students here, as well as individuals around the world.”

Other offerings include two certificate programs that rely extensively on the use of online and distance education technologies. First, the Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate is a collaborative effort between faculty at Stanford GSB and Stanford’s School of Engineering that delivers content exclusively online through a series of self-paced modules.

The second certificate program, Stanford Ignite, is a part-time program for nonbusiness, technical professionals interested in commercializing an idea or moving an idea forward. It is an in-person program that employs high-definition distance education technologies to beam Stanford faculty into global locations including Bangalore, Paris, Santiago, and Beijing.

All of these programs draw upon the expertise of a dedicated, Stanford GSB course development team that includes instructional designers, motion graphics designers, and video producers. The team also produces massive open online courses and many videos segments used by Stanford GSB faculty for their on-campus courses in a model called the “flipped classroom.” This model allows faculty members to deliver selected instructional content online, which frees up classroom time for enhanced discussion and more interactive formats that reinforce the material and enhance learning.

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