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Pellissier Lecture: Spreading Excellence on a Larger Scale

January 31, 2019

Bestselling author and Stanford University Professor Robert Sutton will share principles and examples of “Scaling Up Excellence,” the title of his presentation as this year’s Vital and Alice Pellissier Family Distinguished Lecturer.

Sutton, professor of management science and engineering and organizational behavior, will discuss how to spread, enhance and amplify excellence at all levels of business and organizational management. He’ll share his insights based on diverse case studies including Facebook, Google, Pixar, Uber, Johns Hopkins Hospital, IKEA and more.

“Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less,” the book Sutton co-authored with his Stanford Graduate School of Business colleague Hayagreeva (Huggy) Rao, is about “spreading good things from where they are to where they aren’t, without messing up the organization.”

Sutton and Rao’s work focuses on the causes, drawbacks and virtues of organizational friction.

Robert Sutton
Robert Sutton

“When it comes to scaling, the first order of business is to get rid of bad behavior so good behavior can spread,” Sutton said. “You must get the mindset right for people to know what’s good and bad behavior. Get rid of bad behavior so good behavior can spread from the few to the many.”

Sutton’s talk will also highlight strategies for creating a growth mindset to replicate success.

“You’ve got to know when to slow down or speed up. Trying to run up the numbers and do things fast is dangerous,” Sutton said. “Get rid of things that are no longer working or never did.”

As the co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, Sutton specializes in organizational change, leadership, innovation and workplace dynamics. He earned his Ph.D. in organizational psychology from The University of Michigan and has been a Stanford faculty member since 1983.

Sutton has co-written seven books, including the national bestseller “Good Boss, Bad Boss.”

The annual Vital and Alice Pellissier Distinguished Lecture Series was made possible by a generous gift from the Pellissier family to UC Merced.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre.

Attendees should RSVP online by Feb. 4 to reserve seats. For information, call 209-228-RSVP or email

Brenda Ortiz

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