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About the Author

Robert I. Sutton is professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford Engineering School, where he is the co-director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization and an active researcher in the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. The author of more than seventy articles and mostrar mais chapters in scholarly and applied publications, he lives in Menlo Park, California mostrar menos

Inclui os nomes: Robert I.Sutton, Sutton Robert I.

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Obras por Robert I. Sutton


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
Chicago, Illinois, USA
University of Michigan
Stanford University



This book had a lot of good advice. Some of it was common sense, but a lot of it was legitimately useful and perspective changing. Why two stars then? The organization was horrible. Instead of being organized in such a way as to emphasize the key ideas, the book consisted of lists of loosely connected ideas that were too long to be remembered (and yet, at the same time, were annoyingly repetitive). A couple other factors that led to the low rating were that many of the examples felt more like name dropping than deeply integrated with the core lessons (look at all the interesting people we've talked to and worked with!). There were also a couple key points whose phrasing annoyed me despite the underlying good concept they represented[1].

That said, the key lessons that Sutton and Rao share are useful.

Scaling excellence takes time and investment. If a change initiative is treated as something that can take hold with one training or one inspirational talk, then it will fail. It needs to be spread using many techniques over a long time. This includes training. It also includes convincing the right people in the organization who can help efforts spread, building support systems that allow change to happen even when those in charge of the change effort are not available, and figuring out the right processes to support change. Utilizing social bonds is an important part of this; getting people involved who are widely connected and who are connected to densely connected cliques can help spread change more widely in an organization.

Scaling excellence requires a mixture of flexibility and fidelity. First, we need pockets of excellence to spread. These should be concrete, end-to-end solutions that have been achieved in practice, not a list of good ideas hobbled together and then expected to just work. However, once this initial mix has been found, it is important to figure out which parts of it are essential for everyone to follow -- the guardrails -- and which parts can be changed flexibly to fit local needs. Since often it is unclear why certain parts are necessary until they are put into practice, it can often be necessary to ask people to initially follow a process more strictly than they would like and then allow flexibility to increase over time.

Increase feelings of accountability. When people feel accountable for outcomes -- both like they are responsible for outcomes and have the ability to achieve those outcomes -- then they are more likely to successfully push for change. The flip side of accountability is disengagement, and it is one of the most dangerous problems for an organization, especially one trying to change. Disengagement is not merely failing to push for your own preferred end -- sometimes accepting that your choice was not the chosen one is necessary. Rather, disengagement occurs when a person retains responsibility for some outcome but fails to do their best to make that outcome successful. This is closely related to the mantra "disagree and commit" (or if you can't commit, give the responsibility to someone else). Accountability also requires that each person be willing to combat bad behavior wherever they see it; bad behavior spreads more quickly than good.

Add structure when necessary and remove structure that has become unnecessary. As organizations grow, the overhead of maintaining relationship can take up more and more time until the organization is no longer able to be productive. Adding structure, such as organizational divisions, can help, but all structure comes at a cost. The way to balance this tension is to add a minimal amount of structure only when it seems absolutely necessary -- which will be a little bit after the lack of structure becomes uncomfortable. Another way to combat the cost of adding structure is to also subtract structure that has become harmful, neutral, or where the value no longer outweighs the cost. This means sometimes making people uncomfortable because it requires removing processes and rules that are still sometimes useful.

Plumbing is more important than poetry, but both are necessary. Plumbing -- the practical work needed to achieve success -- is more important than poetry -- the inspirational vision about how great it will be when we have achieved success. The poetry is important and necessary, but if it is not backed by visible, practical implementation with some short term wins, then it will become empty platitudes that inspire cynicism.

Think about what success and failure will have looked like. It can be hard to think about all of the ways the future might look. A scaling premortem is a useful tool for understanding risks and opportunities in a scaling exercise. Write out two scenarios: one where the scaling effort was wildly successful and one where it failed miserably. What, concretely, happened in these hypothetical scenarios? It is even better if these are group exercises and the two scenarios are handled by different parts of the group.

[1] In particular, Catholicism vs Buddhism to discuss fidelity to a model vs flexibility in implementation bugged me because it depended on stereotyped visions of the two religions and, even within those stereotypes, the contrasts between the two are broad enough that it is hard to remember what particular contrast was being drawn. "I own the place and the place owns me" bugs me because ownership of a person is generally coercive and involuntary and this negative connotation falls over into the metaphor and tinges it with hints of slavery rather than voluntary alignment with an organizations goals and living up to high standards.
… (mais)
eri_kars | 2 outras críticas | Jul 10, 2022 |
Lots of good ideas about being a better boss. If you're a boss take it a chapter at a time to understand & implement these ideas.


I. Setting the Stage
Chapter 1: Right Mindset
II. What the Best Bosses Do
Chapter 2: Take Control
Chapter 3: Strive to Be Wise
Chapter 4: Stars and Rotten Apples
Chapter 5: Link Talk and Action
Chapter 6: Serve as a Human Shield
Chapter 7: Don't Shirk the Dirty Work
Chapter 8: Squelch Your Inner Bosshole
Ill. The Upshot
Chapter 9: It's All About You
… (mais)
BizCoach | 8 outras críticas | Apr 25, 2022 |
BritishKoalaTea | 31 outras críticas | Mar 1, 2022 |

The book drove home the point that assholes suck. Then continues to drive the point home until you say the book sucks as well.
wellington299 | 31 outras críticas | Feb 19, 2022 |


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