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Robert I. Sutton is an organizational psychologist and Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. He studies leadership, innovation, organizational change, and workplace dynamics. Sutton has published over 200 articles, chapters, and case studies in scholarly and applied outlets. His main focus over the past decade is on scaling and leading at scale—how to grow organizations, spread good things (and remove bad things) in teams and organizations, and enhance performance, innovation, and well-being given the distinct challenges in big organizations.
Sutton received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from The University of Michigan and has served on the Stanford faculty since 1983. Sutton is co-founder and former co-director of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization, co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and co-founder of the “Stanford d.school,” a multi-disciplinary program that helps people reach their creative potential. Sutton was a resident Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during the 1986-87, 1994-95, and 2002-03 academic years. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly publications, and as an editor for the Administrative Science Quarterly and Research in Organizational Behavior.
Sutton has served a Fellow at IDEO, advisor to McKinsey & Company and Bain & Company, a board member of the Institute for the Future, and faculty at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is currently a Senior Scientist at Gallup, a member of the Press Forward advisory board, and an advisor to Microsoft and Teamraderie (which uses live virtual experiences to improve trust and performance in work teams). Sutton is the academic co-director of Stanford executive education programs including Customer-Focused Innovation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Leading from Home. He has given keynote speeches to more than 200 groups in at least 20 countries.
Sutton’s academic honors include the award for the best paper published in the Academy of Management Journal, induction into the Academy of Management Journals Hall of Fame, the Eugene L. Grant Award for Excellence in Teaching, the McGraw-Hill Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award, the McCullough Faculty Scholar Chair from Stanford, and the award for the best article published in the Academy of Management Review. The London Business School selected Sutton for the 2014 Sumantra Ghoshal Award “for rigour and relevance in the study of management.” The American Management Association selected Sutton as one of the top 30 leaders who most influenced business in 2014 (ranking him 10th).
Sutton has published seven books and two edited volumes. These include (with Jeffrey Pfeffer) is The Knowing-Doing Gap (Harvard Business School Press, 2000), selected by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten as one of the best 100 business books of all time. Weird Ideas That Work (The Free Press, 2002), selected by the Harvard Business Review as one of the best ten business books of the year. Sutton and Jeffrey Pfeffer then published Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense (Harvard Business School Press, 2006), selected by Toronto’s Globe and Mail as the top management book of 2006 and by Strategy+Business (in 2011) as one of the best 10 books in the last decade.
The No Asshole Rule (Business Plus, 2007), is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and and Businessweek bestseller—and been translated into more than 20 languages and sold over 900,000 copies. Good Boss, Bad Boss (Business Plus, 2010) is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. In 2014, Sutton and Huggy Rao published Scaling-Up Excellence, a Wall Street Journal bestseller that was selected as one of the best business books of the year by Amazon, Financial Times, Inc., The Globe and Mail, and Library Journal. The Asshole Survival Guide (HMH, 2017) was selected as book of the month by the Financial Times, and featured in outlets including The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, New York Magazine, and Vox. Sutton and Huggy Rao are currently writing The Fiction Fix for St. Martin’s Press. This book unpacks insights from their a seven-year “Friction Project,” where Sutton and Rao used academic research, case studies, classes and workshops, and ongoing dialog with scholars, executives, and innovators to learn how smart organizations make the right things easier and the wrong things harder and do it without driving employees and customers crazy.
Sutton’s research and opinions are often published as articles and quoted in the press, including The New York Times, The Times (of London), The Atlantic, Financial Times, Esquire, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Wired, Vanity Fair, and Washington Post. Sutton has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows, including ABC, Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC, Fox, NBC Today Show, PBS, NPR, Marketplace, CNN. Sutton had been interviewed on podcasts including WorkLife with Adam Grant, How To! with Charles Duhigg, Goop with Elise Loehnen, That’s What She Said with ESPN’s Sarah Spain, The Art of the Charm, and Harvard Business Review.
Sutton’s personal website is bobsutton.net. He has more than 50,000 Twitter followers, and he routinely writes posts and articles on LinkedIn (where he has more than 222,000 followers). He is represented by Big Speak for speeches and workshops he does outside of Stanford.
I like the focus on middle managers & micro cultures, as often more important than company culture
Decentralized organizations, with loosely-coupled teams, can breed local abuse. Happened at Uber GitHub #noassholerule https://t.co/RP0QczdJyF
David Kelley founded @ideo and @stanforddschool
He's a driving force in the design thinking movement, sparked big innovations in companies and Stanford classes.
I'll ask what he's learned from sh*tfixers like Steve Jobs, who was a close friend of David's. https://t.co/E2suwk2eFr
I really think the “death of Silicon Valley due to bad economic policies” argument isn’t supported by data.
In Q1, Silicon Valley captured 40% of all VC money. In Q2, 31%. Miami and Austin have always been under 3%, not growing much.
The big growing winner is LA, also in Cali. https://t.co/nSiTajeEYZ