Bob Sutton

Well, I saw an example of something that organizations should make harder is is essentially throwing things into the marketplace before they’re ready. And, and so there’s a term in our booklet called a cluster fog, since I guess I’m allowed to swear we call it clusterfuck. In other writings, so what happens when executives get excited about a new product or something like that, especially software executives who don’t realize that hardware can’t be fixed by so easily is that they throw it into the marketplace. So we call this a clusterfuck. This is when people are impatient. They have an illusion, it’s going to be easy to do something when it’s hard and non competent, which turns on people on competence. So the definitive story in Silicon Valley is Google Glass where I said I’m chilly Sergei, I’m bringing in a co founder, he found saw Google Glass in the labs. And he is and all the people on the r&d team said no, it’s not ready. No, it’s already me. threw it out into the marketplace. And the last, you know, the rest of sort of history glass holes is the worst product ever and so on. And so that’s that’s the kind of thing that there needed to be a little bit more break. So it was it wasn’t ready. So that’s, that’s an example of things that are too. There needs to be a little bit more discipline. And then I although for Google didn’t cost too much money, it just hurt the reputation of at least by their standards by the standards are real startup may be dead, right? Um, and and then the other side is, is what ought to be easier as a headline if you want to if you want to think about one of the things that really causes problems, and I bet that software that is your sponsor, I bet you they get into some of this stuff are handoffs in organizations, so So when you look what goes wrong in organizations, that’s where the problems are. So one of the case studies we did and this is, I can say this publicly was with JetBlue. I’m in It was with one of my heroes. Her name is Bonny Simi, three time Olympian in the lose still a pilot. She’s not head of JetBlue Ventures, and she led an effort. So what happened was when storms took something like Kennedy Airport, they actually had terrible problems, especially in 2007, where the whole thing would shut down. They couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again very well. So what she did was she brought together people from all over the company, everything from pilots, to luggage handlers to reservation agents and operations people to and had the map to a process map, which those of us who do efficiency stuff, we all do process maps, and to look to see what was necessary to close and then reopen Kennedy Airport. And there were all these handoffs from one thing to another. And what they worked on was fixing handoffs, and at least for five or six years afterwards, they improved the system quite a bit. But so so I guess, I guess that’s what I would say impatience. Is, is when you’re doing something that isn’t quite done is dangerous. But, but when you want to make things that are hard to do that ought to be easy. The first place I look is handoffs. And one of the first places

Jeremy Weisz

Why do you like Bonny so much? What do you respect about her?

Bob Sutton

Oh Bonny’s Bonny is one of my she’s just one of my heroes. She’s just done. She just can get shit done. I mean, that’s what that’s what she does. I mean, so she was in a situation she was not that senior person in JetBlue, had spent three or four years trying to fix this problem in kinda in an unauthorized way, kind of like a corporate rebel. And she’s a pilot, she knew it was actually dangerous and bad for the company to fly into Kennedy. In some ways, she led the effort to actually fix it. And now she’s head of JetBlue Ventures. And I’m just sort of like, remarkable what she does. And she’s just one of those people as always the courage to do the right thing. And a lot of people who are that successful, are actually quite arrogant, and I first met Bonny when she was in a Stanford classroom. Because she, she keeps wanting to come back to Stanford to get degrees because she loves education. And so I had her in a team with it was her and two undergraduates. And usually we have somebody that accomplished, it’s terrible. She was just some giving and so non egotistical. She’s just a really constructive person. So I just admire her.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. I love that. And then so is this. Do you have a roadmap for your next book? Bob? Is this gonna be?

Bob Sutton

So the people in your companies, it’s like, you know, roadmap, it’s like, I just kind of talked to my co author, Huggy Rao about three times a week. And we just kept keep having more and more. I’ve got like this document. It’s just right on my hard disk here. that that that that says sort of like running notes rich and I think it’s like, and I’ve got a 90 slide deck to God knows. But it’s sort of like the way we describe it is we’ve taken like nine puzzles and chicken the pieces on the table and we’re trying to figure out how to build one puzzle that makes sense So, so yeah, I got a lot of information, it just doesn’t go together very well. And then maybe we should talk about this. With the advent of COVID. The question of fast and slow, oh, man, all these things that I thought were, like impossible to do all of a sudden, they’re happening really quickly. And then things that used to be easy like going to a restaurant. or difficult to do yourself. So, so how you and I were collecting cases, and our students are doing case studies, and we’re doing some research and we’re trying to figure out what we’re learning from COVID is, it’s hard to untangle it.

Jeremy Weisz

Well, I want to talk about what’s happened faster with COVID. But because I have a suggestion for the working title of the book, from listening to you. I don’t know what the subtitle is, but frictionless is the the title or something of that frictionless and then the subtitle is something. But But what what I thought you were saying, well, Bonny is like if you’re an Olympian in Luge person you need to create less friction. And so like she’s almost the prototype a lot from a leader standpoint, but from our Olympic career standpoint, like literally, that’s what you have to do, right? If you’re gonna be successful at luge

Bob Sutton

yeah. Yeah. And she and she’s like that, but also, Bonnie, in terms of friction, she has a sense of when to stop or when the center she’s a pilot and she’s still alive. Yeah. And, um, and, and so she’s pretty risk averse and she’ll slow down, she’ll cancel thing. So, so yeah, so she knows when, when it’s, it’s fine to innovate and when it’s dangerous, so that’s it, okay, like about bonds. And that’s one of the things that like, Huggy, and I relate to this notion that with organizations of when you hit the gas and when you hit the brakes, yeah,

Jeremy Weisz

friction is good when you need to stop right?

Bob Sutton

Smash.

Jeremy Weisz

But I’m frictionless like luge to leadership, but that’s so Bob talk about what goes faster what’s going faster than expected with, you know, this Friction Project and with COVID?

Bob Sutton

Well, so the thing that’s really striking and I’m a couple of my students are really getting into this is one of the things that we’re seeing are. And I have a colleague, Melissa Valentine, who studies these is the rise of what some people call flash organizations, or virtual pop up organizations where, where it just all of a sudden, these organizations just pop up. They’re completely virtual, and they just jam and I’ll give you two quick examples. One is called the United States Digital Response, which was a, which was founded by a bunch of folks who actually were in the CTO office of the Obama Administration, and what they did, because I’ll be descriptive, our federal government’s response was not being adequate. Um, what they did was they organized essentially a matching it’s almost like a dating service, or your your readers can look at US Digital Responses when governments ask for help. Like the city, like New Jersey, the state of New Jersey would ask for help when we got unemployment benefits or something like that. And, um, and then they called for volunteers. And now there’s a couple thousand volunteers who are working for at least 150 municipalities and they finished a bunch of projects that are basically IT projects in and this is an organization that was just erected in in like a weekend boom it was jamming. So that so how does that happen so fast and you know how, how slow government change occurs in the you’ve got things happening incredibly quickly. So that’s one and then my favorite one. And for your readers who are interested in the word faster speed in your listeners, they should look up a guy named Patrick Collison. Patrick Collison a CEO of a company called Stripe, but that’s not the most interesting thing about him. The fact that he’s a billionaire and started a company is not that interesting about him. He’s he’s going to do things really fast. He’s got a list of all these things that happen really quickly like building the Empire State Building. In a year and a half or something like that, um, but what he did was he just got sick of the notion as an academic, that it takes so long for us to get our research funded. So just for example, National Institutes of Health, which would be published supporting COVID research. Traditionally, if you were an academic, you would spend a year just figuring out what to make the proposal and another year having the proposal reviewed, and then you probably won’t get funded. That’s what that’s the usual fate of an academic. So So what he did is he got some donations from various rich people like Reed Hoffman of LinkedIn fame, and he put out this call for proposals for COVID research. He said he may be reviewed and rejected or funded in 48 hours. This was, I think, in late March or early April, they they put up the call for proposals they got I think, was 4000 proposals and they just were really short. I actually tried to do one just to see how easy it was there’s like nothing and and then boom, they are I think they handed out 120 $2 million to 40 projects, and they’re kind of on pause was like, boom, wow. And it was and that was kind of some of that was some of that was they want to do good. And some of that was Patrick Collison and other folks saying after you to the, to, you know how bad the process is and how friction filled it is. So, so so the question that, you know, maybe we should talk about is, okay, so these are great stories, but But what are we learning about when we go back to real life about how to reduce friction, because, you know, if we kind of go back to a Google Glass story, there’s gonna be more Google Glass stories, because because that’s the cost of making things too easy to do. But it should be nice to get rid of all those processes that are just in the way and they’re just a waste of time. So that’s the kind of stuff we’re interested in.

Jeremy Weisz

What’s another What have you seen, will be valuable for a company to apply once knowing that the

Bob Sutton

well after Collison? What Well first of all, this is Every one of your listeners or audience knows this. What’ll happen organizations is is it’s like these arbitrary traditions build up like barnacles. And nobody ever scrapes them off. Yeah. So so that’s that’s something that Huggy and I always call this addition sickness in the notion in sometimes we call this the George Carlin effect to, which is in the way we describe it as George Carlin, the the famous late comedian, he had this he had this notion that essentially, the way that he put it is that I’m my shit is stuff. So anything that I come up with is good, and you’re selfish. So what happens a lot of organizations is everybody adds all these little things because that’s their pet peeve, that little practice, that little extra they call it these robotic emails you get after you hit Stanford all the time. If you take 15 minutes after sign on, I have to approve something that that like I don’t even read but I have to do it so the student can not you know, not get deported, for example, or something like that. In my contribution is completely useless. But some bureaucrat decided that I had to do it. So, so, so, so So to me, that’s one of the things that, that I think we will learn, at least I hope we will learn is to get rid of some of these arbitrary traditions. And, and, and not just to say, our the sort of the George Carlin notion of greed, you know, that it’s other people’s fault, but to sort of look in the mirror and realize that sometimes we’re the gunk person who has this precious little thing we think everybody has to do, but really, for the greater good is gonna be

Jeremy Weisz

skipped. Maybe skipped.

Bob Sutton

Yeah, it can be skipped. It can only be used in exceptional circumstances. It’s, yeah, I mean, one of the things I know you’ve talked about this on your show, is there’s all these organizations who have realized that the annual performance review takes so much time especially 360 degree evaluations on Though in theory, it’s great that Gee, maybe we don’t have to spend so much time on this. And, and, and we talked about this, at least in some of our discussions, it was in Harvard Business Review, too. We didn’t write it, somebody else did. So Deloitte, they figured out what their 360 degree evaluation system, they were spending 2 million hours a year two, those are hours they can build. They’re like a consulting firm, right? 2 million hours a year, and then they streamlined it. So that’s, that’s some of the kind of that sort of addition sickness. That’s that’s kind of the stuff that hopefully COVID will bring us to do. What’s going to make harder? Well, I will, what we’ll find out what should be harder later. So one of the things we’re really into, in fact, we have a case on Uber, is this idea of debt, technical and organizational debt. Financial debt, obviously, is part of the story too. But one of the things that organizations do is that they do a bunch of things that enable them to move fast for a while, but then the chickens Come home to roost, the problems started appearing and you end up with a whole bunch of things that are broken. And if you don’t fix them, you can’t scale to the next level or even survive. So the the definitive one probably in technology would be Mark Zuckerberg move fast and break things. And I, I worked a little bit with Facebook in the early days up to about 400 people, and they and he really meant move fast and break things and we talked about this in our book Scaling-up Excellence, they would, they would socialize, but that was great until it wasn’t and everybody moves so fast and didn’t think about users and legal issues so much. Now it’s it’s kind of you know, move fast and build good things. I don’t know what the last thing I heard was that it was it was move fast and build good things are stable infer or something like that. But they’re, they’re sort of modifying that maybe they should have modified that a couple of years earlier. Honestly.

Jeremy Weisz

You know, Bob said a few things one is out. Obviously, you know, maybe people at this point just need to stop, look at reassess everything, review something if it is halting or broken and maybe look at eliminating things that basically are antiquated or are outliers, you know. And then to that annual performance review thing, that’s just one example. I’m sure there’s a lot of specific things that people do that you’ve proven in your research that are maybe should be done a different way. What should people do is, you know, is it you know, obviously, you want to review people what was proven? What did they show was a better method for something like that?

Bob Sutton

Well, so so I just, I’m enough of an academic worried about about the words proven. So there’s there’s kind of findings. One is, there’s all sorts of evidence that the annual performance review sucks, okay, it’s biased. it spends all this time and everything. But there’s a second question, which is academics have not answered so well. So I would plead guilty to this, which is, well, what’s less bad?

Jeremy Weisz

Right? What do you replace it with?

Bob Sutton

And one solution. And then some of your listeners or audience may have heard this is Adobe, and then some other firms got rid of the annual performance review. And, and we did write a little case on this, and, and they switched to check ins. So the idea was, is Donna Morris, who was then head of HR, she’s now head of HR of Walmart, which is quite a big job. Just only done that a couple of months. And what Donna’s figured out was, you know, that essentially every year around performance evaluation times at Adobe, that actually satisfaction of the company would go down, because it’s just not so so she came up with a system they did called check ins, where you’re supposed to have regular conversations with your boss, but there’s no grand performance evaluation, at least based on the data that they report that seems to have worked better. Because there’s not that weird conversation with your boss or nobody quite knows what to do so so, so there are some things you can get rid of but, but that’s why I always say it’s one thing to complain about what sucks. But coming up with something that’s even better in life. That’s a lot harder. It’s easy to say things suck. It’s hard to fix them.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, I mean, it makes me think of the people implement into a daily stand up with their meetings and a weekly stand up. It’s kind of equivalent, like don’t just wait to the year, they’re not gonna do a daily stand up. I mean, that’s would be a cool one, right? Something like that. Yep.

Bob Sutton

Yeah. And, and, and some of that was so interesting, because what you’re kind of getting to there. That’s another way to get rid of friction and coordination problems. And we talked about this and I think we’ll be writing about this more as we get people on similar rhythms similar cadence that really helps at Salesforce, one of the great in terms of these finances, one of the great success stories. That’s a lot of what the key to their success. Is it actually sort of save the company when they’re in trouble early on, they got their whole organization on sort of the same rhythms that that daily stand ups, sort of shipping a demo every month, the whole company, it’s they still do this. They ship, they ship every four months, everybody sort of pauses. And they have this thing called dream force where at least until this year, they took over San Francisco and turn it into a traffic nightmare. So the rhythms really helped glue the whole company together, because you know what you’re doing, when to do it. And you know, also what everybody else is doing. So you can coordinate with them.

Jeremy Weisz

It was kind of like what you talked about what with JetBlue one of the key elements is they brought everyone together. So you’re getting these different perspectives of what needs to be done, right.

Bob Sutton

Yeah, yeah. Well, and what JetBlue was that was a real specific case. Yeah, but but the rhythms in the airline industry are different. A very difficult place to be right now. But yeah, but revenues really do help.

Jeremy Weisz

So you know, Bob talked about what was another favorite case. that’s come out of this work. The friction project.

Bob Sutton

Well, what’s what’s, what’s another fit? Well, I talked about it a little bit, but it’s worth talking about in expecially. Now, the trouble that Uber and other other industries are in like the restaurant industry and so on, you don’t know what’s going to happen. But But Uber was a really interesting case, because in the earth, in the early days, they essentially have one giant software system they call the spaghetti mess. That was just they had all these problems because the pieces didn’t fit together. So then they went to this thing. They call it micro services, where they decentralized the organization. And there’s Thuan Pham who was CTO until recently, who is the star of our case described, we had essentially hundreds of speedboats going in hundreds of different directions. Yeah. Bless you. And and and so that’s one of the things he had decentralization and and he also had a culture Under Travis, where it was let builders build tow stepping. It was almost like they rewarded people for not cooperating with each other. So that was great. So it’s 1pm put it, our average speed was really high, our collective velocity was getting worse and worse, because there’d be all these coordination problems. I just, for example, they were using 12 or 13 different programming languages. So you couldn’t weave things together, you couldn’t move people from one team to another. And, and so So what that does is it allows them to move fast. But then and this is this issue of debt that we’re really interested in technological and organizational debt. It’s and and one of my general sayings is what got you here won’t get you there, which we stole Of course from somebody else. But but then comes this becomes this point, as I described with Facebook, too, in terms of move fast and break things where you have to stop and you have to slow down and it’s one thing and put it we had to take all our speedboats and we kind of had to bring them we didn’t want to be a supertanker, but we want it to be a fleet of larger boats that were all going in the same direction of ships. Yeah. So so so to me, that’s one of the things that we’re that we’re really interested in is in from an organizational standpoint, that centralization versus decentralization. So when do you kind of let everybody do what they want? And when do you sort of trim down stuff? So I mean, right now with COVID is a good example. You’ve got all these different well, solutions in different municipalities and in some people complain about it, but it’s also instructive because I hope there’s so much of experiments in the country about when do I open How do I open and but but but the difficulty comes is when you start freaking out what works and what doesn’t. And then And then, I don’t hear the lawyers are, are just so so normal size that you got to stop doing that because it doesn’t work and you got to do this instead. That’s when you got to let go of my stuff, which has been proven to be shit, and to and to sort of, you know, join what actually works so. So this sort of notion of the rhythms between centralization and decent centralization. That’s one of the things we’re really interested in in terms of friction, which is that when you let them go in when you sort of weave everything together,

Jeremy Weisz

yeah. And there’s probably a gray area where it’s a tough call, like, certain parts are like, obvious, looking back, but at the time, it’s probably not so obvious, right? Ah,

Bob Sutton

yeah. Well, in fact that that’s the whole lesson, you bring up another thing, which is really something that every leader I know, has a challenge, which is, in general, when you’re leading people through uncertain times when you don’t know what’s going on, and they don’t know what’s going on. I mean, COVID is a perfect example. That saying to people, that that that essentially, we don’t know what’s going on, you got to wait. That’s a really difficult thing to do for leaders, but I’m willing to bet sometimes you’re finding out that they have to sort of delimit it but but they also have to say to the to the people follow them. Sometimes we need more information. We don’t know what we’re doing yet when it comes to this.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, not just picking a path and go as like this. Kind of a natural tendency of a leader to do, right?

Bob Sutton

Yeah, yeah. So, um, so the poster, the poster child that I’ve been talking about, let me make sure I get his name. Right, who has, I think been doing the best job of this is the CEO of Airbnb. So what’s his name? I think his name.

Jeremy Weisz

Um, anyhow I know Yeah, I know you’re talking about it’s slipping my.

Bob Sutton

Anyhow so what he’s been doing is so they did it. They had a massive layoff. This is remember the May 5, they did this this massive layoff 25% of the company. And and so what, Mikey, thank you, Brian Chesky. I can’t forget that, that they they do this. They and he takes responsibility for it. But he also says, you know, here’s all the things we’re going to do for you and they’re doing amazing things just for example, they’re taking a large proportion of their HR department and having a focus on helping find people are laid off jobs that and with Sort of amazing. Um, but, but but but in addition, but I mean, in addition to, to that sort of thing, one of these things he said in the memo is that there’s a whole bunch of uncertainty. And we don’t, we don’t believe in being transparent when we don’t have enough information to make a decision, and essentially to take you into the sausage making, because I think that makes people even more stressed out. And the thing that I liked about that memo that he wrote is this amazing memo people can find online, he read it may 5, to the Airbnb folks, is that he’s saying, here’s what we’re certain about things. Like, if you’re laid off, you get your stock invested, and so on, and you get this much money, and you get to keep your laptop to which I thought was pretty cool. But here’s the part that we’re not sure about. And we’re not going to announce stuff until we’re sure and I really like that. That sort of conveying what’s certain and where we have doubt and we don’t want to confuse you and make you even more upset. I thought sharing the thought process. Yes, but not too much, not too much.

Jeremy Weisz

You know, I’m, I’m curious what other companies you find fascinating with, as you say, you mentioned Airbnb, Uber, Facebook Stripe, what other companies do you find passing?

Bob Sutton

Well, you know, it’s it might, it might not be very popular because they’re controversial. But I still am amazed by Walmart, obviously, that you can talk about the damage they’ve done and maybe we should, you know, maybe they should pay more tax

Jeremy Weisz

fascinating because that could be construed whatever way someone wants commercial.

Bob Sutton

I mean, the largest private employer in the United States. Um, they really are for a sap, possibly for Amazon, there are at least as much, there’s a lifeline for holding people together in this process. They really are. Or they could have better benefits. They really are taking care of their employees and really do care about their employees. So So the way that they’ve responded to me is actually Pretty interesting. So that’s, that’s that’s sort of like I said, it’s a non tech company, but walmart.com is doing quite well. And they’re in some people think Amazon is worse in terms of how he treats his employees. So that’s one of the others. I don’t know what the facts are there on that on the other company that also amazes me to sort of switch gears is Netflix in the reason they, they they amaze me for lots of reasons. But so, you know, Clay Christensen and the famous on the disruptive innovation stuff. The number of organizations that actually have successfully disrupted themselves is very small. And and and if you look at what they’ve done, they have disrupted themselves before the market did twice, not once. So we all remember they used to ship DVDs than it was streaming. And then they now they become, I think, the largest production company in the world, like so how did I mean that’s those are really in they’re still doing those other two things, those are brutal pivots. And and I don’t know how they’ve actually pulled them up. And in fact, some folks will remember that they tried to spin off the DVD operation too early in the market reacted negatively one of the organizations I’ve ever seen that may have disrupted themselves too early. Either they were right, because I mean, DVDs is shrinking market and a different sort of business model. So So, so that’s, that’s a company that really, really impressed me. They also do weird things that fascinate me, and I’m not sure I’d want to work there. But but they’re very performance driven. You’re talking about performance. Boy, they really mean when it comes to performance.

Jeremy Weisz

Yo, Bob, I want to talk about a couple of your books. Good Boss, Bad boss. Weird Ideas That Work. But I also want to go back to cofounding the Institute of Design The D School. Talk about the inception of that.

Bob Sutton

Okay, so that’s so the way I would describe the founding story is that certain Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and I was one of the tours, let’s just be really clear. Okay. So there’s this guy named David Kelley, who is won every award I can think of and deserves it. He just won a $500,000 Award for teaching innovations from the National Academy of Engineering. And just a remarkable person. So David founded and we started setting them in the 90s, a company called IDEO, which which went from a mechanical engineering shop to doing broader sort of product design. And now what they do is that they help companies all over the world be innovative and almost no matter what they do, so he so he led the spread of design thinking that way, David’s also a tenured Stanford professor. And and he he’s sort of this is sort of 2003 2004 something like that. We used to go to IDEO, a group of us old professors, we’d go there and we’d be like six o’clock at night and he gives us wine, we go Kind of drunk and eat food. And he talked about bringing IDEO inside of Stanford. And we, you know, he’s really fun to drink with David and someone on my hard disk. I’ve got Kelley’s fantasy or Kelly’s dream or something like that. Then one day, he comes back with $35 million from this guy named Hasso Plattner, the founder of SAP. So we actually had to do it. And and so so what David, David did all sorts of things that I he just I disagreed with, I may still disagree with. But one of the key things is in terms of a teaching operation, just for example, is that none of the classes we teach at the D School can be required for any Stanford major and David’s logic. And also he doesn’t like paying people and teaching them very well. Or sometimes nothing. If it says I’m a tenure track faculty, he would never give me more money to teach a D School class. Because his perspective is that he wants everybody who is at the D School to be there because they want to be not because they have to be. Yeah. And then our projects are all actually Doing something. So, so my students, some students will build projects or products, my students in my management classes. And this is where we learned stuff, they’ll actually mess around with organizations and try to make them more efficient or more creative. I just did this one example because we wrote it up is, is that a couple of our students work with the San Francisco Opera. And then it came up with these little events like in bars and stuff like that, to attract younger people to opera music, because if you’ve ever been to the opera, so I’m 66 years old. When I go to the opera, I can feel young, you know, it’s like, I look around, I’m one of the youngest people around I go to the bathroom. And the only people who doesn’t have a walker is in a wheelchair. It’s just, it’s, it’s and somebody from the San Francisco Opera sort of joke that our business model is we wait for a billionaire to die and leave us a bunch of money that’s like we lose money every year billionaire dies, boom. We might have that business model of Stanford too, by the way, it’s they give their money when we’re out. like Bill Gates and so on. But, but, um, but but you know, but but but, but seriously, that’s the kind of thing that that is sort of fun to do at theD School is if you’re not trying to actually have people come up with changing stuff, then you’re not living the D School spirit. And also consistent with that, in addition to rapid prototyping and, and trying things that you can’t we can’t do too much damage and so on that that our other philosophy is to be very user centric, which has really taught me a lot that we’re always in into thinking about what is human experience and designing to make human experience better rather than worse?

Jeremy Weisz

I mean, that is some of the fundamentals most important things in general, I think actually taking user feedback,

Bob Sutton

user feedback, and just one and the other thing that you know, we always say at the D School, and this is part of the ideal mantra, which David brought in, is that we don’t just believe where people say, we watch them, you know, and then we try to have the same effect. experiences ourselves. And, and that’s one of the classic sort of things that’s that’s how you learn is you try something yourself. So, you know, to go back to something I just talked about about 15 minutes ago. That’s one of the things I thought was really interesting. And I think the D School taught me that with the fast grants thing that Patrick Collison set up the best way to learn about it in the past, I would have probably talked to somebody or maybe read about it. I realized if I did it myself, I learned more because then I know what the experience the experiences is like. But yeah, that I think that’s, that’s so much and it sounds so obvious. But as you know, it’s amazing how often people forget about forget to do it.

Jeremy Weisz

And Bob, when you say that the question that pops in my head is to myself, how do you go wrong with user feedback? If people are going to be paying you money? And you get their feedback and improve it? How do you go wrong with that? And then the devil on the shoulder, like, well, Steve Jobs said, you know, well, if I asked what they wanted, they asked for Henry Ford. They get a Give them a faster horse for Steve Jobs. So talk about the difference of user feedback. Well,

Unknown Speaker

that’s interesting. That’s interesting. So, so there’s this argument that essentially, you can’t believe what people tell you, because they’ll do things that are socially desirable. And they’ll and they’ll do things that that fit their past experience, and they’re uncomfortable. And it you know, to your point, I think that IBM did some sort of survey in the 80s of the worldwide market for or late 70s for PCs was like 2000 PCs or something like that, because their customers had these mainframes and they thought they were great. So that so that’s an argument that you come up with something that’s different and then you look to see whether people are they react to it and how they use it. Yeah. And and, and so there’s the old saying that my What is it my my mother said every day when I went to school, Don’t believe everything they tell you because because you got to actually see how people respond, responding the situation. I give you Another example says we’re very interested in scaling to other markets. Um, so IKEA, you may know is very successful in China and if you can read something about this about them in Scaling-up Excellence where we did not tell the whole story, okay, which was that when in so many people I know that that China has a do it for me culture, that it’s not doing yourself cultural. So that’s why Home Depot for example, failed their classic do it, you do it yourself thing. So when, when IKEA opened in the Chinese market, they they made a couple of interesting sort of modifications when they had many more better delivery and assembling services. Because not that many people have cars and they don’t assemble their own stuff. Okay, so that was in theory. So this is my book. So I’m talking this is about two years ago, I’m talking to 55 Chinese CEOs, so the from China, in China, it’s like so tell me how big your app is supposedly startups, almost none of them had fewer than 500 people working for them. Wow, I think it was one woman to the the gender dynamics for another issue. So anyways, so So I started telling my IKEA story, but they’re from China is this true? image this guy says to me, I’m in English now through the translator, he said, so we don’t assemble anything except IKEA. So what happened is IKEA sort of trade, so they’re uncomfortable. And if you ask people, would you assemble something in China? No, but they go to the store, they have the experience, and then they do something simple and take it home. And to me, that’s one of those cases where sometimes you don’t learn until you put people in the position of actually doing in that case, they’re actually they’re actually sort of like a Trojan horse for cultural change. Um, to sort of do it yourself culture. Oh, and in this case, I knew that they had actually done it. Because one of the guys after he said, I said, how he assembled some two thirds of them had assembled stuff and one of them said, very bad for relationships. So that you know, we all know we’ve done it. It’s like, it’s like oh, she’s so you know they’ve done it right. It brings

Jeremy Weisz

out the worst in people think, oh, based off all that IKEA would go and they would fail.

Bob Sutton

Yeah, but if you look at they were smart which which is that they they both had more assembly and they did they change the number that some of the food they change for cultural accommodations. But But what happened was they gave people the opportunity to learn. So anyway, so sort of, sort of an interesting combination of what we’re going to conform to the culture, but we’re going to sort of push it and see how far that they’re going to go. And I think that an apple is a great example that all of us have iPhones. So they are they they do things like well, they got rid of my earphone jack, I’m still annoyed by that kind of used to it. You know, I was kind of pissed when they get rid of the earphone jack but,

Jeremy Weisz

but it’s hard to hear elimination thing that go on and eliminate they eliminate the disk drive and they eliminate the jam. Yeah, exactly.

Bob Sutton

So but but but but to me that’s that’s a sort of that that what it but then there’s so many other good things they buy it but but but and then what they seem to eliminate the keyboard that didn’t work when they went to the butterfly keyboard now they’re back to the old keyboards but but still I think in some ways that notion that you’re always sort of experimenting on the edge. And and I remember there was this guy, Chris bangle. So Chris Bangle was the head of design at BMW. And, and in fact, I got him to endorse Weird Ideas that work with his head design of BMW Cars. I met him somewhere at a conference. And he had this great line, which this kind of reminds me of, which is that when we come up with a new line, you know, an update like three series BMW, whatever. Our goal is to lose about 15 or 20% of our existing customers. Because every one of our existing company customers like like we’re doing, he said Monday up with the Oldsmobile like Like, every, every year, like your customers die, essentially. So so what you got to do is you got to, you got to have that sort of tension between comfort and discomfort. And, and, and make your existing folks, you know, uncomfortable enough like my ear jacket still bought the phone. But but but make me uncomfortable enough that you sort of lose a few but then you bring even more and then you keep innovating in the culture too. So it kind of it kind of reminds you of that that tension between making people uncomfortable but not too uncomfortable. Yeah,

Jeremy Weisz

well, thanks for telling that story. That’s about the inception of the D school but um, on that note, Weird Ideas at work. What’s one of your favorite stories from from the book? Ah,

Bob Sutton

well, so weird ideas that work. The general premise of the book. Yes, is that I started out with it was actually a pretty mundane and well established idea in the Behavioral Sciences, that the logic of doing innovative work and routine work are different. That that, um, that essentially you think about Doing innovation, you’re failing all the time you actually went have a bunch of functional conflict over it, you’re looking at the same thing as everybody else and thinks seeing things differently. It’s a different logic and that, and then when you’re in routine work, well, you don’t have a lot of failure. When you have a routine surgical procedure. You don’t want the physician to pretend that your kidneys are your heart, which is the kind of thing that innovator would do. And, and you don’t want to have a lot of arguing about how your surgical procedure should go because that would be a bad sign. So So I sort of did that. And I and then I sort of took things a little bit further. So just just for example, one of the weird ideas I have is reward success and failure, but punish in action. Okay. Um, and, you know, I don’t even know that I agree with that at all times. But, but if you think about the logic of innovation, that you do want to have people who are constantly experiment and trying things, and the other part which I hope we put in place In the up, and I honestly can’t remember to quote my buddy Diego Rodriguez who’s head of innovation at Intuit and was an idea for years. He likes to ask clients in the old ideal place, where’s your place for failing? There’s some places where it’s safe to fail. And there’s some places where it’s not safe to fail. And maybe the best story in that book, by the way, there’s lots of stories. But so there’s a guy famous guy named Mitch Kapoor, Mitch Kapoor, ur was founder of Lotus was kind of an accidental billionaire. venture capitalist, fascinating guy. So, Mitch Kapoor and this is like an 80s. He comes up with the Lotus was essentially a spreadsheet. And, and it’s sort of like a bunch of his hippie friends started this organization. And he looks around like five years later, and he’s Chairman of the Board of a company that has 5000 employees, the CEOs from McKinsey, there’s all these people in suits and he’s an old hippie and and then So what he does is he works with his actually, then head of organizational development. And now wife, I don’t think this is irrelevant, free decline. now free to the poor, I believe. And what they did was they took the resumes for the 40 people who started the company, including niches have a disguises a little bit, and they put them into the HR system. And none of them even got a callback, including. And so you think about that.

Jeremy Weisz

So the organization you won’t be hired at, right?

Bob Sutton

Yes. Isn’t that great? And I have to it’s a bunch of stuff about how in the book, the tone was, I was taking Michonne fritas perspective, there’s outrageous why they weren’t innovative enough. But then I started started thinking well for the culture of innovation. That might make sense, but to really cash in maybe those were the wrong 40 people. And I actually don’t know the answer to that. But you can sort of see the difference in logic in a bit too, between founders and people who do well in an organization that’s just, you know, cranking out selling the Lotus software. So

Jeremy Weisz

Facebook also I mean, their first motto is break things right? And now it has to change a little bit.

Bob Sutton

It now Yeah, and the other thing you look at Facebook boy marks there, but just about everybody else’s is gone and we’ll see much longer Sheryl Sandberg last but but everybody who sort of helped found in the company or almost everybody, they really replaced most of them. So that’s another example that the people who were right early on Marx clearly changed, but, but they definitely were not right. And one of my favorite people who I’ve worked with him some Chris Cox, he was employee number 30. Did newsfeed he was he was actually head of HR for a while when marked and like traditional heads of HR, even though he had no HR experience. He actually did a great job. And then he was head of product and eventually got to the point where well, I don’t know why he left but I suspect he wasn’t right for the company anymore. It wasn’t right for him.

Jeremy Weisz

So Bob, I have one last question. I know we’re pressed on time. Where should we point Towards first to find out more about you and about the book and about everything else you’re going on

Unknown Speaker

probably the best place just go to my website BobSutton.net so that’s where my books and in various things are there and that’s that’s probably the best place I can just you know Google me because he can find stuff like that so easily but Bob Sutton dotnet probably the best

Jeremy Weisz

I’ve sudden net you can go on Amazon check out their books and audible check out their books all those places I highly suggest it. So Bob, last question is you know, out of all your body of work I wanted to hear maybe from one of the other books we didn’t touch upon and a favorite story it could be from the no asshole rule. Good Boss, bad boss. What company or case story or research. Should we tell?

Bob Sutton

Well, that one that’s that’s interesting. So. So I guess my favorite choice. I haven’t thought about this story in years. So No asshole rule which you know, we haven’t talked about it which is probably just as well. But then I also rule for better or worse and sold more than all my other books combined maybe by a factor of three it’s getting close to a million copies worldwide. And there was sort of a prophetic moment when and I didn’t realize this I was 21 years old, and I was my then girlfriend now wife Marina, we went to a restaurant called Little Joe’s a little jealous was this wonderful Italian restaurant a long pounder in the in the Shafi here was a in San Francisco in, in turn on Broadway Street and and just really entertaining is mostly people sitting at the counter and bantering and there was this one guy who kept insulting the chef, he was inappropriately hitting on women and he was being an asshole. And so, so the sky runs up to him. And he says, so one of the other guests and he said, you’re just so wonderful. You’re one of the most wonderful, fantastic people I’ve ever met. I’ve got to get to know you more, please give me an A As big performance of the whole thing, and the guy who was the the asshole gives him his name and everything. And then he announces to the whole restaurant he said, I’m writing a book on assholes and you are perfect for chapter 13. And then the whole place you just like this this like, operatic, they sort of cracked up. And little did I know at that point, I don’t know 20 some years later, I’d be writing a book on assholes. And I got this guy in my last chapter. So so so whoever that stranger was, who got the message, the story from the asshole, he was actually providing material for my work, and I didn’t even know it. Because I never I couldn’t write a book on households. So so I might be my favorites. I haven’t thought of that in a few years, even though it’s in the book. Why that title? Oh, why? Because I think it was commercially the best title. Honestly, if I call it the no joke rule, I think it would have sold 2000 copies. So So that’s, you know, in the fact that it was controversial, honestly attracted attention to it, so that you know, and if you Sort of fast forward, it’s a relatively clean and innocent title. I even noticed. So I was quoted an article in The New York Times about Michael Jordan just a couple weeks ago. Because you know, there’s a series about him and in the last hole in this article, didn’t help him get ahead and everything. And I noticed the New York Times, which when I was on the bestseller list, they wouldn’t even give me the eight was the no seven star rule that they printed the word asshole two or three times in the story. So even the New York Times is coming around. So it’s either they’re, they’re reflecting reality or it’s a degeneration of values, depending on what you believe. So,

Jeremy Weisz

first of all, Bob, I want to thank you, everyone, check out BobSutton.net check out Amazon, audible and thank you so much about it’s really

Bob Sutton

fun to talk to you. Thanks so much Jeremy. Down