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Preview: Bob Sutton

Bob Sutton

Work Matters

Last Build Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 09:19:05 -0700


The Asshole Survival Guide: My Latest Book

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 09:19:05 -0700

The No Asshole Rule was published 10 years ago. It focused on building civilized workplaces. Yet the most frequent question that it provoked were variations of "Help. I am dealing with an asshole (or a bunch of them), what do...

The Dark Side of Scaling Up: Will You Want to Live in What You Build?

Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:21:23 -0800

My Stanford colleague Huggy Rao and I devoted seven years to learning about what it takes to scale up excellence in organizations. We studied how leaders and teams build and identify pockets of goodness in organizations and spread such goodness...

My Organizational Behavior Class: The Current Iteration

Sat, 03 Jan 2015 11:13:42 -0800

The first time I taught an introductory organizational behavior class was in 1980 or 1981. I was a second-year doctoral student in organizational psychology at The University of Michigan. I had no teaching experience (except for one guest lecture I...

12 Books That Every Leader Should Read: Updated

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:03:49 -0800

I have been maintaining – and occasionally updating -- a list of “Books Every Leader Should Read” on this Work Matters blog since 2011. These are books that have taught me much about people, teams, and organizations -- while at...

Walt Disney and Brad Bird on Why They Want to Make Money

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:06:00 -0800

I was exchanging emails with a colleague that used to be at the Stanford and now works with schools. He menionted Brad Bird, which reminded my of an interview that Huggy Rao and I did with him in 2008...

Why Big Teams Suck: Seven (Plus or Minus Two) Is the Magical Number Once Again

Mon, 03 Mar 2014 09:28:26 -0800

I also posted this piece over at LinkedIn this morning. It offers a simple lesson, but one that is often disregarded, and in turn undermines the team and organizational performance, creates dysfunctional conflict. and weakens social bonds. In 1957, British...

The Writing Life And Scaling Up Excellence: You Are What You Do

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 15:42:17 -0800

A few years back, one of my closest friends at Stanford, Steve Barley, made a comment that I still think of often “If you are what you do, then I am a sociologist.” Steve was making a general point (drawn...

Essentialism; It Will Make You Think and Might Even Make You Less Crazy

Sun, 08 Dec 2013 07:08:22 -0800

Greg McKeown's publisher sent me an advanced copy of his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I said I would look at for a possible blurb (I don't do advanced praise for a lot of books, in part, because...

Huggy Rao, Scaling, and Me: An Excellent, Exacting, and Eccentric Adventure

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 09:16:42 -0800

During the seven years that Huggy Rao and I worked on Scaling Up Excellence, we got involved in some pretty unusual situations – at least for two rather staid old professors. We did everything from working with a company that...

Three Hallmarks of Good Performance Evaluations

Sun, 24 Nov 2013 12:18:59 -0800

Phyllis Korkki of the New York Times wrote a piece this Sunday for her Workstation column called Invasion of the Annual Reviews. It emphasizes the risks and downsides of annual reviews, and she quotes me quite a bit -- I...

Creativity,Inc. by Pixar's Ed Catmull: One of the Best Business Books of All Time

Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:12:11 -0800

Ed Catmull has been one of my favorite senior executives for a long time. I admired him from afar after reading about him in David Price's excellent The Pixar Touch. I admired him even more after talking to people at...

Scaling Up Excellence: The Problem of More

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 09:34:20 -0700

This is reprinted from the Harvard Business Review site. A big thanks to Julia Kirby for the wonderful editing. Start talking about the challenge of “scaling” with people, and you’ll find the term gets used to mean a lot of...

James G. March: Organizations aren't Rigid, They are Impressively Imaginative

Mon, 07 Oct 2013 09:28:48 -0700

Stanford's James G. March is arguably the most prestigious living organizational theorist. We are reading his 1981 classic paper "Footnotes to Organizational Change" for my scaling up excellence doctoral class. There is one paragraph in this paper that is especially...

Back at HBR, the Joys of Writing, and Continuing the Scaling Conversation

Sat, 05 Oct 2013 11:37:01 -0700

Earlier in the week, I did my first post at in over 2.5 years -- my last was in January 2011. I was pretty shocked that it had been so long -- my last post was about a story...

F.M. Cornford's Complete Principle of the Dangerous Precedent

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 14:51:56 -0700

I was tried to get this out over Twitter, but breaking it into pieces ruins it. If you want to read one of the most spot on, timeless, and funny books about organizational politics, check out the F.M. Cornford's 1908...

Scott Berkun's The Year Without Pants: Funny Title, Silly Cover, Seriously Well-Crafted Book

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 11:43:20 -0700

Several months back, Scott Berkun's publisher sent me an advanced copy of "The Year Without Pants" to read; it is a pretty silly title and as you can see, the cover is pretty wild too (I love it). Scott's last...

Dysfunctional Competition, the Knowing-Doing Gap, and Sears Holdings

Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:56:30 -0700

A compelling and instructive story on Sears Holdings appeared in BusinessWeek last month -- they own Sears stores, Kmart, Land's End and a host of other brands such as Craftsman tools, Kenmore appliances, and DieHard batteries. It is written by...

Delta Airlines Shows How to Apologize

Mon, 15 Jul 2013 09:30:42 -0700

Please forgive my months of silence. I appreciate all the folks who have asked if I am OK (I am fine!) and who have urged me to start blogging again. You will start hearing more here about what I've been...

12 Books Every Leader Should Read:Updated

Mon, 26 Nov 2012 13:13:10 -0800

I first posted this in 2011, but I update it now and then. Note I have removed two from the list: Men and Women of the Corporation and Who Says that Elephants Can't Dance? They are both great books, but...

Kurt Vonnegut, Joe Heller, and a Great Thanksgiving Message

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 09:53:38 -0800

It is Thanksgiving morning here in California and I was thinking of all the good things in my life I have to be thankful for, just as I know that so many of you are thinking today. I thought it...