Six Scaling Mantras

Six Scaling Mantras

Bob Sutton of Stanford University is first rate thinker and author. One of my favorite books by Bob is Hard Facts, Half Truths and Total Nonsense. Well worth a read. Recently, Bob and his co-author have turned their talents to scaling up change. The new book is called, Scaling Up Excellence - Getting to More Without Settling for Less. In the very first part of the book, Bob details Six Mantras of Scale Up:


  1. Spread a mindset, not just a footprint. Running up the numbers and putting your logo on as many people and places as possible isn’t enough.
  2. Engage all the senses. Bolster the mindset you want to spread with supportive sights, sounds, smells, and other subtle cues that people may barely notice, if at all.
  3. Link short-term realities to long-term dreams. Hound yourself and others with questions about what it takes to link the never-ending now to the sweet dreams you hope to realize later.
  4. Accelerate accountability. Build in the feeling that “I own the place and the place owns me.”
  5. Fear the clusterfug. The terrible trio of illusion, impatience, and incompetence are ever-present risks. Healthy doses of worry and self-doubt are antidotes to these three hallmarks of scaling clusterfugs.
  6. Scaling requires both addition and subtraction. The problem of more is also a problem of less.

I found #5 to be very descriptive of some famous failures in business. Sutton and Rao go into more detail on the “trio” of illusion, impatience, and incompetence: 

  • Illusion: Decision makers believe that what they are scaling up is far better and easier to spread than the facts warrant.

  • Impatience: Decision makers believe that what they are scaling is so good and easy to spread that they rush to roll it out before it is ready, they are ready, and the organization is ready.

  • Incompetence: Decision makers lack the requisite knowledge and skill about what they are spreading and how to spread it,


    If you have not read Sutton before, I think you will find the read informative and entertaining. A great combination.


    Reference: Sutton, Robert I.; Rao, Huggy (2014-02-04). Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (p. 25). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.






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