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Scaling Up Excellence

Getting to More Without Settling for Less

By Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao
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Scaling Up Excellence by Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao

Scaling Up Excellence is the first major business publication that deals with how leaders can effectively spread exemplary practices in their organization. Readers can expect to learn about the latest research in the organizational behavior field, lots of instructive industry case studies, and many helpful practices, strategies and principles for scaling up.

The authors help leaders and managers understand major scaling challenges and show how to identify excellent niches, spread them and cultivate the right mindset within their organizations. They also set out scaling principles that guide leaders in their daily decisions.

Key idea 1 of 10

You need it: scaling is essential to the success of organizations.

Scaling is one of the major challenges that every leader or executive in a successful organization faces. Scaling refers to the practice of spreading the excellent performance that always exists somewhere in the organization to more people and more places.

That’s why scaling is also called the “problem of more.”

But creating more commendable behavior looks very different in each different organization. For instance, scaling can mean growing a technology start-up from twenty to forty employees, opening a new burger store in another country, or reducing treatment errors in hospitals.

Moreover, scaling not only requires replicating best practices but improving performance along the way. In other words, the “problem of more” is also a “problem of better.”

Scaling requires the drive to keep innovating, change organizational behaviors and structures, and find better strategies of delivering your product or service.

Take the Bridgewater International Academies, a chain of elementary schools in developing countries. It scaled up from one school in 2009 to over 210 today. During its scaling process, the leadership team not only focused on growing the organization but also on improving their practices.

For instance, they’re currently working on a new initiative that equips teachers with customized content to work better with students who have different abilities.

Scaling is an important yet tricky organizational challenge. And while there’s no easy recipe for effective scaling, if we look at successful examples, we can glean some fundamental principles and strategies for success.

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