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11 Tips for Scaling Up Excellence in Your Organization


In their new book, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less, Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao address the challenges and trade-offs leaders face in spreading constructive beliefs, behaviors and practices in their organizations. The book highlights the strategies behind success stories such as Kaiser Permanente's patient health records system and Wyeth Pharmaceutical's model manufacturing processes.

The authors, who are professors of management and organizational behavior, offer 11 lessons for building and uncovering “pockets of excellence" learned through seven years of case study research and conversations with leaders in a variety of industries.  

  1. Spread and sustain a mind-set of excellence, not just a footprint
  2. Scaling requires addition and subtraction -- the problem of more is also a problem of less
  3. Use healthy doses of worry and self-doubt to combat illusion, impatience and incompetence
  4. Slow down to scale faster -- and better -- down the road
  5. Learn how to strike a balance between customization and replication
  6. Sometimes, snowballs are better than no balls
  7. Link emotionally hot causes to cool solutions
  8. Use hierarchy and process to destroy bad bureaucracy
  9. Connect people and cascade excellence, using social bonds to spread the right mind-set.
  10. Accelerate accountability: Build organizations where “I own the place and the place owns me”
  11. Think bad to great, not good to great. To clear the way for excellence to spread, eliminating destructive beliefs and actions is the first order of business.

(Image via Shutter_M/

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