Customer Reviews for

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted March 24, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    read this along with Enduring Success

    Fascinating book and no coincidence that we still talk about it 17 years after it was published. While some reviewers are criticising that not all companies in the study continue to be successful I think they both miss the point and did not read the author's claims carefully. They study a group of companies which was exceptionally successful during the observation period. This neither implies that these companies will continue to do well nor does it prevent us to learn from their past experiences.

    What is more of a challenge for the book is the mind frame in which it was written. Authors' are not able to fully escape the main debates of their time (and they probably should not). For 'Built to Last' that means substantial space being devoted to vision and mission (hotly debated in the 1990s). I recommend that you also read 'Enduring Success: what we can learn from the history of outstanding corporations' - a new book that picks up topics we care about today (e.g. innovation versus execution), using the same research approach as 'Built to Last'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Where is your company going?

    Full disclosure: I actually read this after Good to Great (by the same author). While the books are not one in the same, I did feel as though I may have benefited slightly more by reading this first and Good to Great second. Either way, these are two must read business books. A quick summary of Built to Last:

    Are you a clock-builder/architect or timekeeper?
    Embrace the and, which is the tyranny of the or.
    Preserve the core and stimulate progress.
    Seek consistent alignment.

    Every one of these concepts applies to those look to build their company and succeed in the process. You will learn a lot about where your company is and what their vision is just by reading this book. Do they have BHAG's (big, hairy, audacious goals)? Read and find it. It will definitely open your eyes and motivate you to do more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A pathbreaking piece of work...

    This is a groundbreaking book that tells us how to build landmark companies that stand the test of time. The subject of Collins' and Porras' study was 'What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the other companies?' By answering such questions, Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and newfound fads to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished outstanding companies. They also provide inspiration to entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies. This book is an academic treatise, and yet it is superbly written and an exciting read. You could fall asleep on most thesis but this one kept me turning the pages despite being sleepy from a long day's work. I would recommend it to anyone who is serious not about just making quick money, but intent on building sustainable businesses that last.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2006

    Excellent

    This superbly researched book explains to the reader how companies achieve enduring success. I have been in a senior executive role for over 20 years, and I learned a great deal. This book is a classic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2006

    Great Read

    Great book for the serious business person. Helps identify focus and cultivate potential.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2005

    A classic...

    This is a groundbreaking book that tells us how to build landmark companies that stand the test of time. The subject of Collins' and Porras' study was 'What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the other companies?' By answering such questions, Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and newfound fads to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished outstanding companies. They also provide inspiration to entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies. This book is an academic treatise, and yet it is superbly written and an exciting read. You could fall asleep on most thesis but this one kept me turning the pages despite being sleepy from a long day's work. I would recommend it to anyone who is serious not about just making quick money, but intent on building sustainable businesses that last.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2004

    Easy to Read & Shattered Myths

    Overall, this is an excellent book about how to build a company that will stand the test of time. The authors present the information in a format that is easy to read for the senior executive or someone with no business experience. While the authors present detailed and informative examples of actions that businesses have taken to be successful, the number of examples can become cumbersome. If someone is looking for a quick reference of strategies to improve a company, this is probably not the book for them, but if an individual is looking for an in depth report on techniques used by companies, it would be a useful tool. This book's intent is to show you the cogs that matter and give you some framework by which to align them to drive a company constantly/relentlessly forward. Often managers get lost in the P&L of the day. While that is important, it may not be enough to keep the fiber of the organization together. This book can serve as a reminder to us all of what is important to maintain a business that is financially successful but more importantly keeps its employees and customers happy. This book's simple goal is to shatter two myths that many believe a visionary company is founded upon, the incredibly innovative product and the charismatic leader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004

    Built to Outlast the Tests of Time!

    Built to Last by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras is an essential guide for any new or old organization looking to get started or revitalize its fundamental foundation and business practices. Assembled as a result of a six year long study examining eighteen remarkable and long-lasting companies in relation to each companies top ¿market¿ competitor, this book genuinely shows what distinguishes truly visionary companies from the rest. This books begins by briefly describing what visionary companies were chosen for the study and why. For those interested, visionary companies included organizations such as Wal-Mart, American Express, IBM, and Walt Disney, just to name a few. According to Collins and Porras, a visionary company can neither be founded on a single great idea nor rely on an individual charismatic leader. Those in a visionary company must be willing and able to put the organization first in order not only to make an impact after the death of any individual leader but also to stand the test of time. Essential in any visionary company is a statement of what the company stands for and why it exists ¿ its core ideology consisting of its core values and core purpose. For example, a company must exist for a number of reasons beyond just making money. Along with this statement of core ideology must come a plan for action, a plan to stimulate and drive progress in an organization toward an envisioned future. A key concept from this book is preserving the core of an organization while stimulating progress within that organization. Change in an organization is a constant with respect to everything but the organization¿s core ideology. A visionary organization can stimulate progress in a number of ways from setting BHAGs or Big Hairy Audacious goals, to creating and promoting a cult-like culture within the organization, to trying a lot of stuff and keeping what works, and finally, to relying on homegrown management. In a visionary company, good enough never is, there is never an end to the movement for continual progress, and every member in the organization is a key player encouraged to take personal initiative. A visionary company is a great place to work if and only if you strongly agree and adhere to its values and purpose. This book was not only insightful, but it provided the steps necessary for any organization to take strides toward becoming a visionary company. Although information at times was repetitive, it proved useful in hammering home key concepts crucial to understanding what makes a visionary company truly visionary. The book was an easy read, and the authors were quick to point out that this book is not the ¿ultimate truth¿ when it comes to understanding organizations. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is worth a read, and definitely worth the money!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2003

    Also buy the Beitler book

    This is a great book. In addition, I recommend 'Strategic Organizational Change' by Beitler.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2003

    great book for students looking into big coporation survival techniques

    excellent book for business students

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2002

    Timeless Principles that Separate the Great from the Good

    In their richly illustrated Built To Last, the sequel of infamous Good To Great, Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras systematically explore what makes up a great company compared to a good company. A great company has a strong vision that encompasses both an immutable core ideology and envisioned future. That vision transcends the current leader of a great company because it has been institutionalized over time. Contrary to common wisdom, charismatic leadership can be very detrimental to even a great company. Furthermore, a great company nurtures its future leaders by promoting from within to preserve its essence over time. Collins and Porras demonstrate that bringing external ¿blood¿ to lead a (great) company in decline is often not very productive to turn around such a troubled company. In addition, a great company often commands a cult-like devotion from its staff. Disciplined people in thought and action are indeed self-motivated to help their company stay great. A great company also prospers by sticking to an evolutionary process that rigorously keeps the strongest ideas and lets the weakest ones die reflecting some BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) set previously. Although status quo is never perceived as satisfactory, vision is not lost out of sight. Collins and Porras show that both stimulation of change and preservation of the core are pursued at the same time vigorously. In Good To Great, Collins explains to its audience how to relate the above-mentioned concepts to the mutation of a good company into a great one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2001

    Explains the differences between the great and the REALLY GREAT companies.

    Why settle for being great when you can be monumentally stupendous? An impecably researched book (the appendix in the back of this book could be a separate publication in and of itself) that breaks many of the stereotypical beliefs of success experienced by large corporations. Even if you are not self-employed the principles described will help anyone live a more satisfying life. And by the way, nice guys (and nice corporations) DO finish first.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2001

    Excellent source of techniques and applications

    Non-traditional applications described are innovative and inspiring. Terrific insight and enlightening in regard to the way companies become 'great'.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    A Classic

    This book shatters some of the myths about building a long-lasting corporation with solid research and a well-thought mental model. The Genius of the AND concept is simple but timeless.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2000

    The right way to start a high-tech company

    A very powerful guide to start a high-tech company. Many myths are broken. An excellent guide to create a vision and build a visionary organization. It really teaches you how to start the right organization, rather than start with the right idea.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2000

    How can we do better tomorrow than we have done today?

    We can learn new things and new ways of looking into things. Also we can discover why visionary companies stay forever. Money seems to be everything in our lives and it is the reason for these companies' existence however it is not what drives these visionary companies. The characteristics defined to select the most successful companies are excellent measures of quantity and quality. The key idea, that success does not depend on having an early vision and charismatic leaders but on identity, culture and commitment to the company steer us into different paths for future success. It places the focus, not only on the executive team to set the tone, but also on the hiring process and the freedom people are given to create. It will give you new insights and most importantly ways to implement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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