Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up

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Course Date: 15 September 2014 to 19 October 2014 (4 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

In this five-week course, founders and managers learn to uncover and build on pockets of exemplary performance when scaling their venture.


Estimated Workload: Expect to spend between 4 - 6 hours per week on the course over the five-week period.

Course Instructors

Huggy Rao

Huggy Rao (@huggyrao) is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also the author of Market Rebels (2009), numerous research articles, and has been awarded the Sidney Levy Award for Teaching Excellence, the W. Richard Scott Award for Distinguished Scholarship, and is a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, and the Sociological Research Association. His teaching specialties include leading organizational change, building customer-focused cultures, and organization design.  

Robert Sutton

Bob Sutton (@work_matters) is a Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School, where he is co-founder of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization, the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and the Stanford Design Institute or “d.school.” He has written numerous academic and applied articles and is author or co-author of six business books including The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss, both New York Times bestsellers.      

Course Description

The Course The success of every venture depends on scaling: on sustaining and enhancing its effectiveness as it adds more employees, customers, and locations. The problem, however, is that scaling comes with inherent risk. Even the best founders and teams face setbacks, make mistakes, and must muddle through stretches of confusion and uncertainty. Professors Huggy Rao and Bob Sutton devoted seven years to understanding the differences between organizations that scale well and those that scale badly. In the process, they have identified what leaders can do to increase their organization’s odds of success. They compiled the lessons they learned into the Wall Street Journal best-selling book Scaling Up Excellence: How to Get More Without Settling for Less. In this course, you will learn the principles that will help you scale up your venture without screwing up. You’ll address questions that cut to the heart of the scaling challenge: How can you avoid the illusion, impatience, and incompetence that are hallmarks for botched scaling efforts? What should your strategy be? Should you be more “Catholic” and replicate one model as you grow? Or should you take a more “Buddhist” approach and encourage local customization as your footprint expands? How can you avoid cognitive overload on yourself and those you lead, while at the same time, add necessary complexity as your team and organizations grows? The five-week course consists of assigned readings, lectures, exercises, and video interviews. Each week will present you with different questions, and assigned readings from Scaling Up Excellence. Additionally, lectures that extend the insights of the book have been prepared, and the video interviews provide rich practical advice. The video interviews feature some of the most successful venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, such as: Ben Horowitz of renowned venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz Michael Dearing - the early stage venture investing guru of Silicon Valley Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari - two Stanford students whose class project turned into Pulse, a venture acquired by LinkedIn Clara Shih, the founder of Hearsay Social, and a board member of Starbucks Selina Tobaccowala, President and CTO of SurveyMonkey and co-founder of Evite ​Anthony Coles, former CEO of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, which his team grew and then sold to Amgen for 10 billion dollars Kaye Foster-Cheek, former Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Onyx Pharmaceuticals Dr. Jordan Kassalow, founder and co-chairman of VisionSpring, an organization that gives individuals in the developing world access to eyeglasses Kevin Hassey, CEO of VisionSpring Through the exercises, you will be able to apply the learnings directly to develop your scaling plan. At the end of the course, there is a live webinar during which some of the best works from the class will be showcased.

Course Workload

Expect to spend between 4 - 6 hours per week on the course over the five-week period.

Course Prerequisites

You need a computer that allows you to watch the video lectures, and the ability to upload your assignments, which will be images, videos, slides, and text. You should also be prepared to collaborate with teammates via email, Skype, and other free online tools. Prerequisites: None

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