Built to Last Book Summary By Jim Collins

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Built to Last, written in 1994 by authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, is a book which takes an in-depth look at 18 groundbreaking companies that have endured the test of time.

It reveals the secret behind their success through analyzing what sets them apart from their less successful competitors.

The book details how these companies, some of which have lasted nearly two centuries, have been able to thrive despite changes in the business world.

This amazing study showcases the important traits and strategies needed for enduring success.

All of this is revealed through detailed research and honest interviews with the company’s founders, leaders, and most successful employees.

Built to Last Book

Book Name: Built to Last (Successful Habits of Visionary Companies)

Author(s): Jim Collins

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 19 Minutes

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Author Bio

Jim Collins is an author and lecturer who knows his stuff.

His vast knowledge has been shared in lecture halls at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and his expertise has been on display in numerous publications, such as Fortune, Business Week, and the Harvard Business Review.

His past book 'Good to Great' was a big success, selling over four million copies.

With this level of success he is definitely an authority figure when it comes to writing about business and leadership strategies, making him the perfect author for Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies - a timeless guide to lasting success.

Uncovering The Secrets Of Success: Why Visionary Companies Outperform Their Peers Over Generations

Secrets Of Success

Visionary companies can be a great source of inspiration and knowledge for organizations striving for success.

By studying these long-running success stories, we can learn strategies for lasting success even as our business climate changes over time.

When looking into visionary companies, eighteen highly regarded organizations were chosen to participate in the study.

Comparing this group to similar comparison companies, the difference was astounding – there was an increase of $6,356 from investing one dollar from 1926 until 1990!

This is compared to an increase of only $955 through investing in the comparison companies and just $415 when compared to the general market.

These findings have been found to be so inspiring that many Fortune 500 Companies are eager to learn more about them.

By studying what has made these enterprises successful over such a long period, we can understand what it takes to build a sustainable business and achieve enduring success.

The Secret To Success For Visionary Companies Is Building A Machine Of Great Ideas And Leaders

Visionary companies like Sony, Hewlett-Packard, and many more have managed to stand the test of time by consistently producing great products and leaders.

Unlike other companies that rely solely on one visionary or one big idea, these organizations are machines that are designed to create ideas, innovate, and empower leaders.

These machines don’t just generate a single product or person – they churn out great results over time with minimal effort.

Instead of focusing on one leader or idea, they break down the components into small manageable pieces that are easier to process and modify.

And as each component is improved upon, the resulting outcome is better than before.

This means that no matter how many ideas or people come and go from a company, the organization itself still stands strong because of its ability to consistently produce high-quality work over an extended period of time.

It’s like creating your own clock – a reliable machine that always keeps ticking in spite of any external turbulence.

Visionary Companies Prove That You Can Thrive With Strong Core Ideologies

Strong Core Ideologies

Visionary companies are not driven by profits, but by a core ideology.

The core ideology encapsulates the values that a company holds dear and guides their decision-making.

For example, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) ranks shareholders as last on their list of responsibilities, with customers first and employees second.

Many of these visionary companies come out ahead despite not focusing profitably – they stay pragmatic in their decisions while never wavering from their beliefs.

It becomes especially visible when the company experiences trouble – Ford took time to reassess what the company stood for and its values back to those exemplified by its founder Henry Ford when it faced a crisis in the 1980s.

Its competitor General Motors opted for no such efforts.

Though visions may differ greatly between companies, it is crucial that there is an authentic ideology that persists within a company and one which is put into practice for it to be effective.

Visionary companies do still make money even though they are driven more by their core ideologies than profits – proof that success can still come from operating from values first.

The Vision Of Revolutionary Companies: Preserving Core Ideology While Achieving Constant Progress

Visionary companies are unique in that they are able to remain committed to their core ideologies while striving for progress and innovation.

Unlike other companies who may hesitate to try new ideas or strategies out of fear of contradicting the values they have set up, visionary companies are not afraid of making changes when they deem it necessary.

For example, Wal-Mart is dedicated to “exceeding customer expectations”, but can amend its policies as necessary when it comes to how customers are greeted at their stores.

Likewise, Boeing cultivates an ethos of Aviation Pioneering but does not necessarily need to produce jumbo jets forever – it can switch up its products according to what their customers require.

Nobel Laureate J.

Willard Marriot is renowned for his phrase: Make every day count, to the very end – a clear indication of his reluctance to become complacent once success has been achieved.

This philosophy guides many visionary companies in their relentless pursuit for improvement and progress – always looking for new ways to better serve their customers, refine their products, and evolve as an organization.

Both bold goals and concrete mechanisms (such as incentives for innovation) help further this goal and ensure that Visionary Companies stay true to their original purpose while still keeping ahead with the times.

Visionary Companies Embrace Big Hairy Audacious Goals To Stimulate Progress

Visionary companies recognize that they need to set daring objectives and commit themselves to achieving them in order to move forward.

These are often referred to as Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs).

Oftentimes, these goals seem too ambitious or even unattainable, but nonetheless have the power to energize and focus the organization on their quest.

We can look at Boeing’s commitment to develop the 747 jet as an example of a corporate BHAG.

Despite sales of the plane proving less than expected, they marched ahead with their plans, declaring that they’d complete it regardless of the cost even if it meant laying off 60% of their workforce.

In a similar vein, Thomas J.

Watson Sr., founder of The Computer Tabulating Recording Company changed its name International Business Machines (IBM) as a way to express his ambition for global status.

It was an ambitious goal at the time and showed his company’s dedication to moving forward.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals can be seen throughout history as a great way for visionary companies to stimulate progress due to their ambitiousness and drive for success.

Visionary Organizations: Expertly Balancing Cult-Like Commitment And Innovative Freedom

Innovative Freedom

Visionary organizations have an almost cult-like quality in their corporate cultures.

Employees quickly find themselves immersed in the company’s ethos, often becoming devoted to the core ideology.

This devotion is encouraged by a range of activities such as singing songs related to the company and mandating a certain dress code or behavior.

At these companies, there is little room for flexibility when it comes to meeting expectations.

Either employees fit right in and thrive, or their performance drops and they leave soon afterward.

While the commitment to upholding standards is important for progress, it means that those who do not fit within the confines of the core ideals may not be able to stay with the company for very long – there are no compromises here.

On the other hand, this rigid devotion allows employees to become empowered and creative within their own work spaces, fostering a unique environment of ideas through experimentation that could improve operations overall.

This environment differs from personality cults where charismatic CEOs can drive passionate performances that fall flat once they leave – visionary companies focus strictly on their core ideologies without individualizing everyone’s experience too much.

Visionary Companies Foster A Culture Of Leadership Excellence Through Effective Succession Planning

Visionary companies have the unique ability to consistently churn out top-level leaders that lead with an unwavering core ideology.

Companies like General Electric (GE) prove this by having a hundred years of exceptional CEOs all in line with their vision.

Jack Welch, GE’s most famous CEO, had a detailed plan of succession seven years before his retirement, while Bob Galvin from Motorola began planning for the next 25 years prior to his own departure.

These well-prepared companies are a stark contrast to those who choose external hires who are unfamiliar with the company and its goals.

This is often made worse when these CEOs oversee no formal succession planning at all and any new candidate is actively blocked or sabotaged.

These types of poor management choices can leave organizations at a standstill when the difficult CEO eventually leaves.

When selecting leaders, visionary companies ensure that they are high-caliber professionals through training methods within the business as well as timely succession planning.

It’s no wonder that so many GE alumni have gone on to be very successful in different organizations – they managed to get fantastic leadership skills while working there!

Visionary Companies Stimulate Evolutionary Progress Through The Encouragement Of Experimentation Despite The Risk Of Failure

Risk Of Failure

Visionary companies understand that progress is achieved through growth and evolution, which requires the introduction of new ideas, practices, and products.

To achieve this level of progress, they encourage experimentation and innovation among their employees.

Charles Darwin famously discovered that slight variations within species could have significant results that often lead to advances in the species’ overall strength.

Similarly, visionary companies cultivate this same approach by allowing their employees more freedom to pursue innovative ideas or pet projects — even if initial market research on these ideas are negative.

Take J&J’s Band-Aid product line: it started when an employee quickly bandaged his wife’s fingers with surgical tape and gauze after a kitchen accident.

He then mentioned the idea to J&J Marketing, where it was embraced and eventually became a best-selling product for the company.

Or 3M, which actually allows its employees to spend 15 percent of their worktime on independent projects in order for improvements like Post-It Notes to come about.

These companies understand that progress is not made without occasional failures being encountered along the way – such as J&J’s colored casts for bone fractures causing chaos in hospital laundries – but recognize that these failed experiments are worth the price if further innovation is encouraged.

Visionary companies understand how much further businesses can go when experimentation is embraced rather than discouraged – an evolutionary process necessary for success.

How Visionary Companies Turn Ideals Into Reality: Exploring The Mechanisms Of Transformational Change

Visionary companies don’t just talk about their values, they put them into practice.

3M, for example, implemented a plan that allowed employees to dedicate 15 percent of their time to pet projects, and set a goal that 30 percent of all sales had to be from products less than four years old.

Wal-Mart created “Beat Yesterday” ledgers to motivate constant growth by comparing each day’s sales to those from the year prior.

Hewlett Packard implemented a process of ranking employees annually so those who achieved a high status couldn’t just coast.

When Merck wanted to become an innovator in medical research, it modeled its labs on academic environments and enabled their staff to publish their findings in journals – something that was unheard of at the time.

To ensure product-development quality, they made sure research drove the development process instead of marketing like many other companies did at the time.

All these efforts attracted some of the great minds in science.

It’s clear that visionary companies don’t just talk – they take concrete actions to live out their principles and implement their core values!

Wrap Up

Built to Last, a book by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, is all about understanding what makes visionary companies so successful.

They lay out the principles that visionary companies use to thrive, as well as the specific policies and mechanisms they employ to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, they argue that Visionary companies succeed because they stay true to their core ideology while simultaneously encouraging progress.

Their core ideology is made up of values and purpose – why the company exists beyond profits or shareholder value.

To stimulate progress and improvement on top of that foundation, visionary companies set ambitious goals and implement grassroots mechanisms for making those goals a reality.

Overall, this book offers an insightful snapshot into how these remarkable organizations have been able to achieve success and stay relevant for so long – by staying true to who they are while continuously pushing for progress.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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