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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras begin their groundbreaking analysis of "visionary companies" with the following bold statement: "We believe every CEO, manager, and entrepreneur should read this book." Although their language may sound slightly hubristic, the authors actually deliver the promised goods: Written in eloquent and accessible language, Built to Last, the result of an extensive six-year research study conducted at Stanford University, is a classic business book that surely deserves the accolades critics, readers, and its creators have heaped upon it.
Collins and Porras begin by defining the type of organizations they intend to examine. American Express, Ford, GE, Nordstrom, and Walt Disney are some of the 18 visionary companies -- widely admired, crown-jewel institutions that were founded before 1950 and have left "an indelible imprint on the world in which we live" -- to fall into the purview of their study. The authors then proceed to offer 12 management myths shattered by their research into these companies. Perhaps the most significant of these debunked pieces of conventional wisdom is the idea that change is the sole constant in the business world. Instead, Collins and Porras argue, "a visionary company almost religiously preserves its core ideology -- changing it seldom, if ever." From this adherence to a fundamental set of beliefs or a deeply held sense of self-identity comes the discipline and drive that enables a company to succeed in rapidly changing, volatile environments.
One of the enjoyable things about reading Built to Last is that its authors consciously chose to avoid the trendy phrases that sometimes make business books seem no more weighty or enduring than magazine articles. Instead, Collins and Porras have written a book that is meaningful, passionate, based on careful study, and, in its own way, built to last. (Sunil Sharma)