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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sutton and Rao bring it!
You might think Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao are a bit “slow” when you realize it took seven years to come up with seven Scaling Mantras. But, you’d be wrong. “Scaling Up Excellence” is filled with powerful and practical ideas that are illustrated with colorful stories and supported by scholarly research.

7 Scaling Mantras:...
Published 7 months ago by Dan

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, if it were so easy
I consider this book, really, just a book about change management. "Just" is probably unfair because there aren't a litany of great change management books that aren't simplistic or fables. So, suggestions like "get the cool kids on board," is fun, new lingo and thus reading the book is a fairly fresh read, but I think the book overreaches. There's no...
Published 3 months ago by Brian D. Newby


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sutton and Rao bring it!, February 4, 2014
This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
You might think Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao are a bit “slow” when you realize it took seven years to come up with seven Scaling Mantras. But, you’d be wrong. “Scaling Up Excellence” is filled with powerful and practical ideas that are illustrated with colorful stories and supported by scholarly research.

7 Scaling Mantras:

1. Spread mindset, not just footprint.
2. Engaging all the senses. (Personally, I want every lobby to smell like coffee or popcorn.)
3. Link short-term realities to long-term dreams.
4. Accelerate accountability.
5. Fearing the clusterfug.
6. Scaling requires both addition and subtraction.
7. Slow down to scale faster - and better - down the road.

Anyone familiar with Bob’s work expects a no-nonsense approach to writing and management - splashed with some tongue-in-cheek color. The addition of Huggy didn’t change the tone of this work.

One of my favorite chapters is: “Bad is Stronger Than Good: Clearing the Way for Excellence.” That’s the kind of stuff I expect from Bob. Get your head out of the clouds and face the hard truth that a little bad goes a long way.

I read one or two leadership books a week. “Scaling Up Excellence” is must reading. The principles in this book, if implemented, will change your leadership/management and your organization.

Seven years in the making, “Scaling Up Excellence” is a bargain.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, Compelling, Valuable!, February 6, 2014
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Sutton and Rao offer a comprehensive guide to management in a package of enticing stories, subtly supported by references to high-end research. Their personal history in the Silicon Valley and their global access to interesting organizations provides the backdrop.

MAIN THEME & WHO SHOULD READ
The main theme is that, while many good practices exist in organizations, they either get lost or there are difficulties when attempts are made to spread them (scale them) across the organization. The breadth of this theme means that this book will provide value to anyone who would like to see organizations improve. The benefits are not limited by industry, functional area, or organizational size.

KEY IDEAS: THE SEVEN MANTRAS
Sutton and Rao are far more direct than most academics; it often takes a lot to get a professor away from an “it depends” answer. In this instance they have enough background to be confident with the following:

We’ve identified reliable signs that scaling is going well or badly, and we’ve distilled these signals into seven mantras. If you are embarking on a scaling effort [I’ll add if you are doing anything to make your organization better], memorize them, teach them to others, and invent ways to keep them firmly in focus -- especially when the going gets rough.

Spread a mindset, not just a footprint. This first one is their, and your, protection against being labeled a fad.
Engage all the senses. From my perspective, this is where you consider how to weave together human, technical, and organizational practices such that they work together, not against your goals. It’s also where I realize that my presentation of these ideas is much less colorful, and perhaps less likely to scale.
Link short-term realities to long-term dreams. Organizations that can do this have mastered ambidexterity -- the ability to both get work done now, and not let that get in the way of great things in the future. (In my mind, this is a precursor to solving the The Innovator's Dilemma.)
Accelerate accountability. This one sings to me as a focus on transparency. I’ve asked in the past, “What evidence, tools, and techniques do people in mainstream organizations think they need to move in this direction?” The examples provided here may move us closer to my ideal.
Fear the clusterfug. Yes, they are using a euphemism, but it gets across that we can't allow even mundane bad things to get worse. Speak up. For those wanting to use their business research background: Don’t escalate commitments to bad situations. Think about the Denver baggage-handling fiasco and fear a similar outcome on your watch.
Scaling requires both addition and subtraction. This ties directly to the idea of managing for now and for the future. Sometimes activities that have worked to create excellence stop working as you scale. As Sutton and Rao note, having an all-hands meeting every week makes great sense for a small organization, but you are likely to have to shift the form of this activity as you grow. Information flow and commitment are still important, but you need to be willing to find new ways that fit your growth.
Slow down to scale faster--and better-- down the road. I completely agree. I am wondering why, in my writing, I start with this one (in the form of “Stop-Look-Listen”), and yet they end with it. Perhaps thinking of this as a list is the problem. It’s not a list, it’s a cycle or a weaving, which also goes along with their borrowing Michael Dearing’s image of whether this is Buddhism versus Catholicism (see Chapter 2).

APPLY THESE IDEAS
My goal with this review is to get you to read the book. You will benefit. Your organization will benefit. The next time I teach a general graduate management class, Scaling Up Excellence will be a required reading.

I’m still trying to decide how much experience in organizations you need to have to gain value from their ideas -- and I’d love your opinion. Is this a book to help undergraduates trying to understand the complexities of organizations? If you are a mentor, is this a book you would suggest to a person in their first full-time job? Without a doubt it’s a book I’d give to someone taking on a new leadership role at any level.

Disclosure: My review copy was provided by the publisher. I’ve also purchased a copy to gift to a colleague.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Step into the elevator - empower your business to ascend to the penthouse., February 6, 2014
This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
Rarely is a business challenge so universal and far-reaching. Every organization, regardless of size or sector, must grapple with the challenge of scaling and cascading excellence. We can often identify pockets of excellence in an organization, but rarely can we pinpoint how to spread these pockets from the few to the many.

Though we often talk about scaling in terms of addition and multiplication, Sutton and Rao effectively illustrate that scaling is not only a "problem of more" but also a "problem of less". Because bad behavior is stronger than good, scaling requires "plumbing before poetry". Drawing on a multitude of case studies, anecdotes, and academic research, "Scaling up Excellence" is not a series of catchphrases. Instead, it outlines several hallmarks of scaling coupled with practical and actionable strategies. Only by understanding when - and to what extent - best practices should be replicated and spread, can organizations thrive and prosper. There is no substitute for the practical advice and years of research contained within the colorful covers of this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart Growth, February 16, 2014
By 
Jonathan Littman (Sausalito, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
Growth is something we all assume will happen. Invent something cool, deliver a needed service, and you will naturally prosper and increase revenues, right? But what if there is a better way to grow, or scale? What if you need to constantly check whether it’s time to go “Buddhist” style or “Catholic?” What if growth depends on regularly stoking “hot causes” and linking them to “cool solutions”?

Bob Sutton is a veteran Stanford professor and organizational guru who has written ground-breaking books about the nuances of interpersonal and management innovation, often with his characteristic humor and humanity in such bestsellers as The No ARule.

Here, he has teamed up with fellow Stanford professor, Huggy Rao to tackle something incredibly complex and important: Why do so many businesses stumble as they grow? Sutton and Rao tell us in engaging, behind the scenes stories why Google and Facebook have scaled effectively while Starbucks and others have stumbled. Flexibility is a key positive message: Facebook advocates fast development and gives engineers the leeway to “feel safe to break some stuff along the way; they also widely promote “hack a month” where each year employees are loaned to another group for a month. Google, surprisingly, despite its meteoric growth, “has always been notoriously slow to hire…every new hire is still approved at the organization’s highest levels.”

One of the things you can count on in a Sutton book are stories you’ll be able to tell at your next business dinner or meeting. But unlike so many books today, these aren’t just culled from business articles or the web. Bob and Huggy have interviewed dozens of top executives at many of the nation’s premiere companies. There are priceless gems, like this from a Netflix executive, who said the company’s entire policy on expensing, entertainment, travel, and gifts is encapsulated in this simple directive: “Act in Netflix’s best interests.” As Sutton and Huggy note: this minimalist approach creates a positive, virtuous cycle: “Employees with impressive skills and motivation are attracted by the pay. Then they stay -- and work like dogs-- because of the autonomy, pride in their work, and lack of friction.”

What’s remarkable in these pages is the amount of truth the authors dig out and the absence of B.S. Growing a business cannot be reduced to a simple, seven step formula, and Scaling Excellence reflect that in the variety of tactics they forward.

Management, as anyone knows who has the guts and stamina to have done it, is the ground war of building a business. It’s imperfect, ugly and shot through with human foibles. Sutton and Rao show how not just to survive but actually thrive, and live to fight another day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not new material, just presented in a good way, April 8, 2014
This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
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I've read a number of business books over the years, a lot of reviewers mention "Good to Great" and this I don't believe is the same caliber as that book, however this book still has some really great concepts on how to scale your company, team, yourself to be able to get more done, with less resources. I'm not going to say the book is really exciting, parts of it really bored me and I had to skim those pages to move on, but the majority of the book really had good content.

For example, I really like chapter 8, it's about imagining you have already succeeded (or failed) at something. This puts your mind in a state where you can ensure success follows. It gets you to think differently, you don't worry about "what if it doesn't happen?" because in your head it already worked and it was successful. It's a great message on positive mindset.

I would recommend this, As of the time I'm writing this the kindle book is about half the price of the paperback, no reason you shouldn't go the kindle route, I don't believe you miss anything in that format.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it. You will too., August 13, 2014
By 
Joe (West Michigan, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
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I really like this book because it shares principles that can be adapted. As a small company with big goals we're always looking for ways to improve and move forward with principles to shape our future and they offer them here. They are:
1. Spread mindset, not just footprint.
2. Engaging all the senses. (I want our offices to smell like fresh baked bread, coffee and have fountains with fish in them)
3. Link short-term realities to long-term dreams.
4. Accelerate accountability.
5. Fearing the clusterfug.
6. Scaling requires both addition and subtraction.
7. Slow down to scale faster - and better - down the road.
I can't tell you how many times I've pulled out a mind map since reading this book and ran an idea or thought through this matrix. Buy the book. Enjoy the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Slower to Scale Faster (and Better) Later, June 22, 2014
By 
Joe B. (Daly City, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
Professors Sutton and Rao have created an exquisite work in setting the stage and laying out the principles of scaling in Scaling Up Excellence. Those with experience in coordinating teams to accomplish goals, projects, and growth will appreciate the siren song of this book. The contents balance research summaries and anecdotes to make this both an enlightening and fun read. As a Program Manager I felt so compelled after reading that I have shared an outline of concepts with each of my program teams and colleagues. We exercise these principles daily and see them as truths that give those who embrace them a competitive edge.

In a recent roll-out of Agile/SCRUM we realized the need to decide which elements of scrum would be mandated (Catholicism) v. negotiated (Buddhism). Scaling Up Excellence reminded us of the need to make these decisions up front for efficiency in the roll-out. We are also reminded that for all team changes a day-to-day (Ground war) effort must be initiated, an “Air war” alone will prove insufficient. This has proven to be true.

When we implement change there is often a reaction, “oh no, one more thing”; however, Scaling Up Excellence reminds us to cut cognitive load and in the midst of change to be vigilant for ways to reduce cognitive load - subtract unnecessary things and add processes or methods to reduce cognitive load. In practice, this approach has afforded improved roll-outs of various changes.

Research relayed in Scaling Up Excellence tells us that a single bad experience will carry 5x the emotional impact as a single positive experience. This reminds me of gardening. You must get rid of the weeds for the flowers to flourish. Bad is so influential that both teams and management alike must take responsibility to eradicate it before adequacy and subsequently excellence can be achieved.

To leverage decades of research; enjoy memorable, illustrative stories; and gain confidence in scaling well, Scaling Up Excellence is a must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing mindsets can be problematic, but here's how to get more out of less, April 11, 2014
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This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao’s new book, Scaling Up Excellence, is one of those books you’ll go back to again and again.

Plenty of people know exactly what scaling is, but more don’t. I’ve got a lot of clarity on where I first encountered the term in business fifteen years ago--and the demands that were asked of me. A long-time friend and client wanted to make some very important culture changes in his leadership team. When we started our conversation, the focus was very clear and he kept going back to it over several interactions. He wanted the best scalable competencies to enable his leadership team to interact successfully with the company’s clients.

By scalability we refer to the ability of certain mindsets or competencies to expand from the few to the many.

The scalable competencies that we decided on were able to enhance and expand the major, permanent changes he was after. An alternative and far more productive cultural mindset was developed among the team members, along with the skills and practices that made it possible to eventually revamp the relationship with their clients.
As in any successful mindset change we spent a great deal of time identifying and clearing away the destructive behaviors and beliefs so this enhanced effectiveness can spread and stick. Scaling Up Excellence brings such tasks as ours to full fruition. Early on, Sutton and Rao lay out seven “Scaling Mantras” that are the result of extensive research. They enable the reader to identify exactly where to focus their perseverance in order to scale up excellence. Their comment is exceedingly relevant: “If you are embarking on a scaling effort, memorize them, teach them to others and invent ways to keep them firmly in focus—especially when the going gets tough.”

In Sutton’s typically refreshing fashion, he lays these mantras out clearly:

Spread a mindset, not just a footprint. Running up the numbers and putting your logo on as many people and places as possible isn’t enough.

Engage all the senses. Bolster the mindset you want to spread with supportive sights, sounds, smells, and other cues that people may barely notice, if at all.

Link short-term realities to long-term dreams. Hound yourself and others with questions about what it takes to link the never-ending now to the sweet dreams you hope to realize later.

Accelerate accountability. Build in the feeling that “I own the place and the place owns me.”

Fear the clusterfug. The terrible trio of illusion, impatience, and incompetence are ever-present risks. Healthy doses of worry and self-doubt are antidotes to these three scaling clusterfugs.

Scaling requires both addition and subtraction. The problem of more is also a problem of less.

Slow down to scale faster---and better—down the road. Learn when and how to shift gears from automatic, mindless, and fast modes of thinking (“System 1”) to slow, taxing, logical, deliberative, and conscious modes (“System 2”); sometimes the best advice is, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”

Although many people apparently believe that mind-sets are not a very useful focus for organizational intervention and change, the cards are clearly stacked against them. There is now systematic research in many, many areas revealing that mindsets control our behaviors. In other words, mindsets have consequences and they may be limiting and destructive or liberating and productive. Changing the way people think about situations is, in fact, the most powerful and useful way to ultimately change behavior and thereby affect organizational results. Kudos to Sutton and Rao for their spot-on and well-needed research and book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful insights to a complex issue, March 31, 2014
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This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
This is quite a different from many business books available.

It’s not a short, light, easy read -- it’s about twice as long as many business bestsellers. However, it’s well-written and fun to read, with plenty of real-life stories and details that kept me turning the pages.

Nor does it try to distill the research findings into a simple recipe or defined set of principles. Bob and Huggy’s research showed that scaling up is a complex issue; and so in their book, they wanted to avoid giving the impression that a simple recipe like “5 steps to scaling” would guarantee success. There aren’t tips that will work in every situation. Instead, the book provides themes, principles, and examples, so you can think about which specific things will work for your organization.

Even the seven “scaling mantras” mentioned in many of the other reviews don’t capture the book’s truths … that was just an exercise to shape your mindset as you started the book.

If you want a quick roadmap to follow (which may or may not actually work), go read a different book. If you want thoughtful insights that to a complex issue, with proven ideas to consider for your organization, and meaningful litmus tests to determine whether you’re on the right track at any point in time (before it’s too late), this is the book for you.

Here are just a few of my favorite take-aways from Scaling Up Excellence:

It’s a ground war, not just an air war: bombarding people with a training session or quick communication campaign doesn’t work; it requires pressing each person, division, and group to make one small change after another in what they believe, feel, or do.

Starting with a full working prototype (rather than theory) that your people can see

Connect-and-cascade process: going beyond the usual “cascading through the management ranks” by using social bonds to spread the right mindset

Guardrail strategy: specifying as few constraints as you possibly can—picking those precious few that matter most and pack the biggest wallop, and then leaving people to steer between and around them as they see fit.

Striking the right balance between Catholicism (replication) and Buddhism (customization) for your organization and goals

Once is not enough, and One is not enough: the best leaders find themselves saying things over and over, in a variety of ways and through a variety of methods

Team size: creating a team that’s too large is the biggest mistake leaders make

Case study: Kaiser Permanente shifting mindset from hospital-as-hub to home-as-hub model of health care
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - Important topic, March 21, 2014
This review is from: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (Hardcover)
This book tackles an important problem that is often overlooked: the challenge of expanding excellence throughout an organization. Leaders often identify a pocket of excellence in their organization, or they are inspired to implement some improvement program, but are frustrated that they can't spread improvement broadly and with long-term sustainability, what they term "scaling up excellence."

Sutton and Rao use a combination of academic research and real-world examples to address this problem. An essential observation is that scaling up excellence is "a ground war, not just an air war." A splashy campaign, a few high-level motivational events, or other short-term activities will fail. You need persistence, tenacity, and hard work to extend excellence throughout an organization. Most of the book focuses on a set of scaling principles that give practical tools for winning the ground war.

A couple of examples. One chapter discusses "hot causes and cool solutions." Using a wide range of examples, they discuss the importance of engaging emotion to mobilize action to solve a problem. But the emotion must be combined with a set of practical solutions designed and implemented to last after the initial emotional energy has subsided.

Another chapter addresses the importance of eliminating bad practices and influences, something that is often overlooked as leaders implement exciting new improvement programs. They point out, supported by research, that "bad is stronger than good"--negative practices spread faster and more widely than positive ones, and a disruptive employee does far more damage than an excellent employee provides benefits. The fastest way to improve is to reduce sources of poor performance.

Overall, this is a great book for anyone seeking to improve an organization--provided that the reader isn't looking for a simple, feel-good fix, but is willing to work to achieve long-term success. It's an easy read, and the case studies provide useful, engaging, thought-provoking illustrations of organizations addressing a wide range of challenges in scaling up excellence.
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Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less
Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton (Hardcover - February 4, 2014)
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