Great Work Podcasts

Great Work Podcasts

Bob Sutton, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less

Bob Sutton, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less

Sutton_BobMost business books I read aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. That’s why I’m very excited to be talking today with Bob Sutton, author of a really great business book called Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less. (The book was just released two days ago!)

Bob is also the professor of management science and engineering at Stanford, and has written a bunch of other books and articles. So I know this is going to be a fascinating conversation.

In this interview, Bob and I discuss:

  • How to spread excellence throughout an organization
  • Why the path of most resistance leads to success
  • The importance of looking beyond the here and now
  • Catholic vs. Buddhist approaches in the workplace
  • Why mutual accountability is essential to successful scaling
  • The benefits of keeping teams small

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Bob Sutton.

0:02:06: Bob elaborates on his professional background and explains that his main goal is now to develop something useful and practical, as opposed to simply academic. He introduces the idea of spreading excellence more widely throughout organizations.

0:05:11: Michael and Bob discuss the path of most resistance and how it helps lay the groundwork for long-term success.

0:10:12: Bob points out that the most successful companies are able to look beyond the immediate need to get things done, focusing on how current changes will impact the organization further down the road.

0:12:30: Michael asks Bob to explain the metaphor in his book about Catholic vs. Buddhist approaches in the workplace. Bob notes that Catholicism is about following an exact set of rules, whereas Buddhism follows a more general philosophy and allows for local customization.

0:18:28: Bob talks about the importance of mutual accountability within an organization. He notes that it generates widespread social pressure to sustain excellence at all levels. Bob also explains why it’s essential to have small groups within each overarching organization.

0:25:18: Michael and Bob discuss why individual responsibility is crucial to successful scaling, and the fact that senior leaders must make it possible for employees to have an impact.

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