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Built to Last

Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

By Jim Collins
15-minute read
Audio available
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins

Built to Last (1994) examines 18 extraordinary and venerable companies to discover what has made them prosper for decades, in some cases for nearly two centuries. This groundbreaking study reveals the simple but inspiring differences that set these visionary companies apart from their less successful competitors.

Built to Last is meant for every level of every organization, from CEOs to regular employees, and from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and charitable foundations. The timeless advice uncovered in this book will help readers discover the importance of adhering to a core ideology while relentlessly stimulating progress.

  • Anyone interested in how visionary companies have stayed successful for over a century
  • Anyone who wants to make their company, organization, department or team more purposeful
  • Anyone who wants to find tangible tools to drive progress, foster innovation or communicate values with their organization

Jim Collins is an American author, lecturer and consultant, who, among other things, has taught at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and is a frequent contributor to FortuneBusiness Week and Harvard Business Review. His other book, Good to Great, has sold over four million copies.

Jerry I. Porras is an academic and business analyst. He is the Lane Professor Emeritus of Organizational Behavior and Change at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. His primary interest lies in finding methods for aligning companies with their core purpose and values. 

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Built to Last

Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

By Jim Collins
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins
Synopsis

Built to Last (1994) examines 18 extraordinary and venerable companies to discover what has made them prosper for decades, in some cases for nearly two centuries. This groundbreaking study reveals the simple but inspiring differences that set these visionary companies apart from their less successful competitors.

Built to Last is meant for every level of every organization, from CEOs to regular employees, and from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and charitable foundations. The timeless advice uncovered in this book will help readers discover the importance of adhering to a core ideology while relentlessly stimulating progress.

Key idea 1 of 9

Visionary companies are like machines that constantly produce great products and leaders.

Contrary to what most people believe, the success of a visionary company is not dependent on great ideas.

The founder of Sony, for example, had no specific idea of what products his company would make. He actually held a brainstorming session after founding the company to evaluate business ideas ranging from sweetened bean-paste to miniature-golf equipment.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard also had no specific idea in mind when they founded Hewlett-Packard (HP). They experimented with almost farcically diverse ideas, such as automatic urinal flushers and bowling foul-line indicators.

Hence, it seems that great ideas are not necessary for the start of a visionary company.

Nor are high-profile, charismatic leaders. While visionary companies did have superb individuals at the top of their organization, they were often down-to-earth, reserved and modest people.

But then, what is the secret of enduring success? Many comparison companies had great ideas and strong leadership, yet they all fell behind the visionary companies eventually. Why?

Instead of focusing on a single product or a single leader, the visionary companies studied built themselves into outstanding organizations that constantly churned out great ideas and great leaders. The real creation of the founders was not a product at all but the company itself; constantly advancing independently of any one person or idea.

Think of a clock on the wall. Having one great idea or visionary leader is like getting a glimpse of that clock and being able to tell the time in that instant. But building an organization that constantly generates great ideas and leaders is like building your own clock: a reliable machine.

Visionary companies are like machines that constantly produce great products and leaders.

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