Book reviews: Unfair Fight vs Scaling Up Excellence

  • Books
  • June 20, 2014
  • Mark Godenho
Book reviews: Unfair Fight vs Scaling Up Excellence

Let me start by stating that Scaling Up Excellence by Robert I. Sutton & Huggy Rao and Unfair Fight by Sam Hazledine are both as comprehensive as they are excellent. One is all about taking your business to the next level, while the other is a précis of considerations and actions required for SMEs and startups. As such both books are probably not for you. One of them will be extremely relevant, while the other will be as useful as a Facebook poke. But since both are so damn virtuous and wholesome, I’ve devised a bit of a system based on key criteria to help you discover which book is best suited to you and your business needs. 

Which book will help me handling business growth?

If you’ve got a successful business already then you’ll enjoy Scaling Up Excellence. It won’t tell you how to run your current business, but it will give you a roadmap for taking it to the next level. Their 7-Step mantra is easy to follow and backed up with good case studies and practical ideas. Conversely, Unfair Fight is more suited to startups and those who are new to business.

Winner: Scaling Up Excellence

Which is most relevant to kiwi SMEs?

Most New Zealand businesses are SMEs. So while Scaling Up Excellence may be relevant to some, every SME could do with a copy of Unfair Fight in their bookshelf. Hazledine, 2012's Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year and founder of MedRecruit, covers a range of topics from finance to marketing, sales to leadership. You don’t need an MBA. You just need Sam’s easy prose and down-to-earth mentality. It’s written in such an easy manner it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a business book at all.

Winner: Unfair Fight

Who has the coolest name?

Whilst Sam Hazeldine is a friendly enough sounding name, you really can’t beat Huggy Rao. Who wouldn’t want to read a book by someone whose name sounds like a Carebear?

Winner: Scaling Up Excellence

Who’s the most qualified?

Both Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao are successful authors and extremely well respected professors at Stanford University. Having said that Sam has actually run a business. A $20M+ business to be exact. And it’s been featured in the Deloitte Fast 50 for four consecutive years. And he’s won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year for 2012. And he’s a qualified Doctor. And a NZ Extreme Ski Champion.

Winner: Unfair Fight

What if I’m into leopard print G-strings?

If you want to see a picture of a man wearing a leopard print G-string then Unfair Fight is for you. Hazledine literally reveals to us the importance of “getting their attention”.

Winner: Unfair Fight

But what if I work for a corporate?

If you work in a corporate then you’ll definitely get a lot out of Scaling Up Excellence. Stories from Google, Facebook and Starbucks will resonate with anyone who has a “C” at the start of their job title. In addition to that, it’s written by scholars who have interviewed many companies over the years, enabling the book to ride the problematic razorblade of academic vs. real-life-experience rather well.

Winner: Scaling Up Excellence

Which book will still be relevant 5 years from now?

Given the massive reviews and acclaim already from the USA, Scaling Up Excellence is already a business classic and I’m sure there’ll be more editions and tweaks in the coming decade. Having said that its size and narrative don’t make it the easiest book to dip into. Conversely, Hazledine has spread out his content in a simple manner. As such you can dive in, chop and change and cherry pick the most relevant bits for your business no problem. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in diversity.

Winner: Draw

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