Scaling Up Execellence: How The Book Was Developed

30 August 2017 | In the Appendix of Scaling Up Excellence, Sutton & Rao tell the readers how the two authors developed the book in 7 years.

1. Combing Through Research from the Behavioral Sciences and Beyond
This approach reflects our view that it is impossible to design and conduct a single study (or several studies) that begins to capture the key elements required to scale up excellence— or any other complex management challenge.

Indeed, during the nearly daily talks between the two of us about this book, we focused most often on linking the stories and cases that we were gathering to rigorous theory and research in accurate, useful , and engaging ways.

2. Conducting and Gathering Detailed Case Studies
We worked with writers at Stanford (especially David Hoyt) to produce several teaching cases where scaling was a central theme, used cases written by other colleagues on organizations, conducted diverse interviews or drew on published sources (or blended both methods), and drew on book-length descriptions of organizations.

3. Brief Examples from Diverse Media Sources
To uncover insights and stories, we scoured diverse media sources, and drew on diverse websites.

4. Targeted Interviews and Unplanned Conversations
During our many conversations with scaling veterans and other skilled people, we never stopped hunting for input to help us illustrate, develop, and test our emerging ideas. We conducted a blend of face-to-face, telephone, and e-mail interviews (including follow-up exchanges to verify facts and glean extra details) on a nearly daily basis. These interactions took many forms, and we engaged in too many to list here, let alone remember, each one.

5. Presenting Emerging Scaling Ideas to Diverse Audiences
We described above how the ideas and reactions from diverse audiences guided us as we wrote Scaling Up Excellence. Our strategy was to aim for a broad range of organizations and industry sectors—given that our goal was to develop a general perspective that most leaders and teams in most organizations would find helpful.

Each group taught us something new, and we revised our scaling ideas and stories in response.

6. Teaching a “Scaling Up Excellence” Class to Stanford Graduate Students
Doing so helped us develop our ideas in three ways. First , it enabled us to discuss and refine them in response to 100 smart— and often critical— Stanford students. Second, our class guests included many of the book’s scaling stars ; some we met for the first time when they spoke to the class, others were old friends. Third, and most important, we learned from hands-on projects where student teams worked to spread excellence.

7. Participation in and Observation of Scaling at the Stanford
We’ve learned a bit about scaling from helping the grow. More importantly, we’ve observed firsthand as David Kelley, the’s founder and inspiration, and other leaders, including Academic Director Bernie Roth and Managing Director Sarah Stein Greenberg, have confronted virtually every scaling challenge considered in this book. In addition, our leadership roles in the Customer-Focused Innovation program allow us to track executives who are spreading design thinking in their organizations, including our scaling heroes Doug Dietz from General Electric, Kaaren Hanson from Intuit, Bonny Simi from JetBlue, and executives from Capital One, Citrix, DIRECTV, Fidelity, Hyatt, Procter & Gamble, and SAP who give us frequent updates about their trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

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