Friday, November 11, 2011

Built To Last: Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies By Jim Collins, Jerry I. Porras

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials)

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials)
By Jim Collins, Jerry I. Porras

List Price: $17.95
Price: $7.18 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by

49 new or used available from $2.98

Average customer review:
(88 customer reviews)

Product Description

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day -- as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: "What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?"

Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the 21st century and beyond.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #2346 in Books
  • Published on: 2002-09-01
  • Released on: 2002-08-20
  • Format: Bargain Price
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 368 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies.Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has co-authored three books, including the classic Built to Last, a fixture on the Business Week bestseller list for more than five years, generating over 70 printings and translations into 16 languages.His work has been featured in Fortune, The Economist, Business Week, USA Today, Industry Week, Inc., Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts multi-year research projects and works with executives from the private, public, and social sectors.

Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at corporations that include: Starbucks Coffee, Merck, Patagonia, American General, W.L. Gore, and hundreds more.He has also worked with the non-corporate sector such as the Leadership Network of Churches, Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Non-Profit Management.

Jim invests a significant portion of his energy in large-scale research projects -- often five or more years in duration -- to develop fundamental insights and then translate those findings into books, articles and lectures.He uses his management laboratory to work directly with executives and to develop practical tools for applying the concepts that flow from his research.

In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made free ascents of the West Face of El Capitan and the East Face of Washington Column in Yosemite Valley.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful.
5A Great Book with a Flaw
By Walter H. Bock
This book reminds me of the hero in the classic Greek tragedy. The hero is always magnificent, but has a tragic flaw. This is a magnificent book with a tragic flaw.

Porras and Collins set out to write a book about visionary companies, and they did just that. They chose the companies they would study based on specific, detailed criteria.

They wanted to study companies that had been premier institutions in their industries and widely admired while they made an imprint on the world around them. They wanted their companies to have multiple generations of chief executives and to have gone through multiple product or service lifecycles. And they wanted the companies to have been around for a long time - founded before 1950.

They compared each of their visionary companies with another company that was not a premier visionary company. Many of the comparison companies were solid performers. They were good companies, but not great companies. That's one of the great things about the book. You can see the distinction between good performance and great performance.

Another thing that makes the book great is the extensive research. The project took six years, and the authors and their research team dug into critical issues and came up with fascinating insights and comparisons.

Read this book and you will learn about the characteristics of great companies that have an impact on the world around them. The discussions will enrich your understanding of what makes a great company. This will be especially valuable to you if you're in the process of building a company that you want to be great.

That's the great part, the hero part. What about the flaws?

The first flaw is that essentially performance for each of these companies is equated with market performance. There are lots of things the authors could have used, such as return on assets, for example. But share price is easy to track over time and is used as a surrogate for greatness. I'm not sure that that's the best criterion.

What you are actually reading about is a selection of excellent, visionary companies that were perceived as good investments by the market. This "perception" issue is not addressed in the book.

The second flaw is more important. While this book tells you marvelous things about companies that are admittedly great and about some of the things that make for greatness in companies, and while it mixes statistical data with telling anecdotes, it falls short in one critical area. The book doesn't tell you anything about how to achieve greatness.

In other words, it describes what greatness might be and it gives you some examples of companies who have achieved it, but the book ultimately left me with the nagging desire that the authors would have given me some "how to." As far as you can tell from reading the book, these companies were always great.

That may not be a problem for you if you're just starting a company. You've got a clean slate to start from. But if you're guiding an already-established company, or a part of it, I think you'll wish for a few examples of companies that became great after performing at some lesser level.

That's the bottom line in my recommendation. If you're looking for a book that describes greatness and where you'll pick up a wealth of ideas and good historical knowledge about great companies, buy this book. If, on the other hand, what you want is a book that describes in some detail how to achieve that greatness, this may not be the book for you.

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful.
5Read this along with Good To Great
By A Customer
This book will show you how to take your business from just average to great but even more importantly, make it last. Built to Last is a must read for all business people. Read this right along with Good To Great and Double Digit Growth.

Take your company to unequaled growth and leave a legacy.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
4A huge business hit of the early 90s that has aged pretty well
By Craig Matteson
This is one of the business classics in the past twenty years. It has sold a huge number of copies and I am sure many of those purchased copies were actually read! As impressive as its sales numbers have been, the way it has affected the approach to the way business was discussed and talked about for the past dozen years has been even more impressive.

Yes, there are always newer fads and business is subject to fads more than most fields of human endeavor. There are lots of theories about why this is so, but it might have something to do with the new managers coming in wanting to bring something new with them and so the previous guy's stuff is no good. Hence, something comes and something goes for reasons beyond its ability to run business in a sound and profitable way. However, when something comes along with some real substance it spreads and lasts, at least for awhile. The ideas of core values and big (hairy audacious) goals hit a chord and lasted. Of course, today they are part of the air businesspeople breathe rather than a quote from this book.

The authors looked at a number of big companies and found a list of those that had been around a long time, been financially successful, and were on a roll at the time of this book (but they don't say this is one of their criteria). They also found some comparable big company that hadn't found the level of success of the "visionary company" as they call the successful firms. They then looked for some traits common to those big successful companies that might explain their success.

The four big principles they came up with were: 1) Be a clock builder - or architect - not a time teller [once you read the chapter it will be clear], 2) Embrace the genius of the AND, 3) Preserve the core / stimulate progress, and 4) seek consistent alignment.

All this has to do with being opportunistic, building the organization that best supports the opportunities you are pursuing rather than letting the organization dictate what you pursue, that success requires doing seemingly contradictory goals simultaneously, making sure that the core culture gets preserved (if it has been a successful culture), and making sure that the whole process is focused on the core ideology - the core values and core purpose of the organization. Sounds simple? It's not. And even so, the "visionary" companies the book lauded a dozen years ago have all, or almost all, fallen on various levels of hard times since the book came out.

This fact is addressed in a soft way in the frequently asked questions addition for this paperback addition. There is also a new last chapter on building the vision and a section on questions for research (this acknowledges areas left unexplained by the book).

A book that has been this influential deserves your attention if you are interested in business literature. However, as with all of these books, use the principles as they apply to your real life in the real world of competitive business rather than treating them as some kind of final truth.


No comments: