Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Scale Up Excellence

One of the most difficult problems a leader can face is how to spread and grow success throughout a team or organization. Companies like Facebook and Google have added thousands of employees successfully without sacrificing excellence, while Starbucks and Yahoo faltered as they focused more on creating a big footprint instead of ensuring the right mindset permeates an organization.
In a new book based on seven years of research, Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao look at how successful leaders and companies worked to spread a culture of specific beliefs, behaviors and practices. The book, “Scaling Up Excellence: Getting To More Without Settling for Less,” provides case studies and insights from those who have been in the trenches of scaling challenges.
For example, in the early days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was close enough to workers to constantly hammer home his vision. But as the company grew, that no longer became possible so employees are now sent to a six-week “boot camp,” where they performed various small assignments for about a dozen diverse groups before they are given a specific job within the company.
During this time, the company’s credo of “move fast and break things” is reinforced, along with the company’s core beliefs. In addition, each new employee is given a non-management mentor to help him or her navigate boot camp. This practice helps Facebook scale up talent because it lets mentors “stick a toe in the management waters,” the authors explain.
Rao says that those organizations that scale well do so not by spreading (see more here)

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