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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  39,376 Ratings  ·  419 Reviews
Groundbreaking research into the development of America's most enduring and successful corporations that shatters myths, provides new insights and gives practical guidance for companies that would like to follow in their footsteps. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, faculty at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, have discovered what makes visionary companies -- ones that be ...more
Paperback, 0 pages
Published October 12th 1997 by Harper (first published September 16th 1994)
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Doris Johnson Yes. This is a book for visionary companies and how they perpetuated the vision for many years. It is a great guide for any business leader to use if…moreYes. This is a book for visionary companies and how they perpetuated the vision for many years. It is a great guide for any business leader to use if they intend to build a legacy business.(less)

Community Reviews

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Lucas
Jan 31, 2011 Lucas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Visionary companies are premier institutions - the crown jewels - in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long track record of making a significant impact on the world around them. The key point is that a visionary company is an organization - an institution. All individual leaders, no matter how charismatic or visionary, eventually die; and all visionary products and services - all "great ideas" - eventually become obsolete. Indeed, entire markets can become obsolete and ...more
Tim
Jan 06, 2008 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
This is one of the few business books I read cover to cover. I found its idea of what makes companies great to be an inspiring one. It led me to formulate my own "Big Hairy Audacious Goal," which I've tried to use to guide my company ever since: Changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators.
J.R. Woodward
Mar 26, 2012 J.R. Woodward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both James Collins and Jerry Porras have worked for a couple of the visionary companies that they write about and both have taught at Stanford University Graduate School of Business (Porras still does). Collins specializes in management education while Porras specializes in organizational behavior and change. They write and speak extensively in these fields and work as consultants for many successful organizations.

The thesis of this book is that visionary enduring companies are not dependent upo
...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Apr 03, 2016 Tõnu Vahtra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The single most important point to take away from this book is the critical importance of creating tangible mechanisms aligned to preserve the core and stimulate progress. This is the essence of clock building.

5 specific methods to do preserve the core and stimulate progress:
*BHAGs: Commitment to challenging, audacious - and often risky - goals and projects toward which a visionary company channels its efforts (stimulates progress)
*Cult-like Cultures: Great places to work only for those who
...more
Stephanie
I'm reading this book for a company book club. My company views this work as guide for building and maintaining the company...making sure that it's 'built to last'. Reading Built to Last is also part of my indoctrination into the company culture, which I am told I am a good 'fit' for. It only follows that our book discussions are filled with comparisons of our company and the 'visionary' companies studied. We spend time relating what we read to what we see on a day-to-day basis at work, which ma ...more
Reagan Ramsey
Feb 06, 2013 Reagan Ramsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-books
i liked that they focused on companies that have made it long term in this book. it demonstrates that great companies aren't solely built on an idea or market timing; but on great systems, having a vision and mission that is higher than money (for real, not just something you put on a plaque somewhere), and creating a tight, consistent culture...so that it becomes apparent very quickly whether or not someone is a fit.
I actually took their advice and spent some time thinking about what my missio
...more
TarasProkopyuk
Эта книга очень хорошо дополняет книгу "От хорошего к великому" того же автора. Она является её продолжением. В "Построенные навечно" хорошо обобщаются данные, детализируются принципы успеха, наводятся хорошие примеры и приведены отличные выводы.
Рекомендую её также как и книгу "От хорошего к великому" - обязательную к прочтению. Данные книги будут очень полезными для всех целеустремлённых людей, руководителей, начинающих и всех уровней предпринимателей не зависимо от их опыта, а также инвестора
...more
Peter Aloysius
Dec 01, 2009 Peter Aloysius rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
jim collins cherry picked some companies that he thinks successfull and compare them to 'failed' rival company in the same industry to find out what characteristics that successful company has that the rival company doesn't

Sounds good, but the problem is, he didn't compare the opposite. What those characteristics of successful company which other failed company also has but they still failed.

For example, Big Hairy Audicious goal. I'm pretty sure that a lot of company around the world also has bu
...more
Greg Z
May 20, 2016 Greg Z rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Update: I flipped through this a few days ago and realized this book is only slightly better than "Who Moved My Cheese," and other business-related books.
I read this years ago, and today it's the only "business book" that has stayed on my shelves here at home after I finished my 30 years in corporate America. There are some good articles about successful companies vs. failed companies, and if I ever start a company, there are some admirable ones here with which to study.
Karthik
Feb 24, 2017 Karthik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually started this book 9 years back. But somehow never got around to completing it. This time I resolved to see it the full way. The book has some good insights that make lot of sense for a company, a department and I feel even for an individual. The research methodology looks rigorous but as the authors themselves have pointed towards the closing, there are some gaps in the approach. However I feel there are broad patterns we can see in successful organizations - having core values that r ...more
Elliard Shimaala
Oct 24, 2016 Elliard Shimaala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this book is a well-researched paper about successful companies in comparison with the “so not” successful companies doing the same kind of business. Built to Last brings together years of study by Jim and Jerry making it an awesome read for business unit managers, CEOs and entrepreneurs.

The contents of chapters such as, more than profits, can serve as a talent attraction tool (especially millennials) in today’s business world. Why? Research has shown that millennials prefer work
...more
David McClendon, Sr
So far in business there are three highly respected books written about research performed on businesses and what makes them successful. The first would be In Search of Excellence. The second would be Built to Last and, finally, Good to Great.
Built to last compares companies within the same industry to see what makes one “visionary” and the other not so visionary. It looks at several different industries this way. The book acknowledges that there may be some flaws with its research but, in the e
...more
Joe
Aug 19, 2011 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A precursor to the author's later book, Good to Great, Built to Last is a scientifically backed study of what separates Visionary Companies from Merely Good Companies.

There's a lot of good stuff here, but it is best summed up with their remark that "building a visionary company is a design problem" as opposed to a more mechanistic problem.

And that sounds exactly right. A cookie cutter approach simply doesn't work. Instead, companies need to take a really deep look at their unique drives and purp
...more
Kevin O'Brien
Mar 23, 2012 Kevin O'Brien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Oddly enough, though this was the first of the big Jim Collins books, it was the last one I read. Since this was first published in 1994 you can note that one or two of those companies may not last much longer. Motorola, for instance, may be on the edge. But the core concept of this book is still relevant, that you need to stick to your core values but be willing to change everything else.

This book preceded Collins' smash hit "Good to Great", but in fact I would read all three of them together
...more
Devanshi Mittal
May 17, 2016 Devanshi Mittal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Built to Last is a very well researched and a convincing book that has definitely opened my mind to new ideas and thoughts about companies. Every chapter of the book is important. The authors have evidently shown visionary and comparison companies to show how the same idea may not still work if you don't have certain characteristics. The best and maybe the most scariest part is that there is no right or no wrong characteristic - It is about your passion, your vision, your core values, your purpo ...more
Mario Tomic
Oct 07, 2013 Mario Tomic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most valuable books I've read on how to build a company that will change the world. The book is loaded with research, hard evidence to support the claims and with great stories. Collins really nailed it with this one, the content debunks a lot of the myths established by business schools, general public and media. I strongly urge you to read this book, even if you aren't planning to start a company. It will teach you many great lessons which will help you to achieve more success in li ...more
Jen
Sep 03, 2010 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Corporate blah blah blah blah.

I struggled to get through it, but it wasn't the most painful business book ever. I just can't stand the earnestness. Business books that read like they just found the map to the holy grail irk me. Cop to having a great deal of luck and admit your outlook may be totally wrong, but it's the best you could schlep together with what you know, and I'll get on board. If you fully buy into your own BS, I'm not going to enjoy your work.
Eric Burleson
Jan 06, 2014 Eric Burleson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The research behind this book identifies a few key characteristics that "visionary" organizations have. Interestingly, the definition of "visionary" is incredibly robust, and the author's team went to great lengths to identify those things that made these companies great. I strongly recommend this book for anybody working in organizational development, or anyone that wants to make their organization better.
Chuck
Sep 09, 2012 Chuck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good but dated, and some of the words of wisdom failed in some of the cases. Enjoyed the discussion of the visionary plan of Freddie Mac to change the mortgage industry to benefit more people starting in 1992. The noted that these changes might out live the secondary mortgage industry... probably happened not the way they planned.
Sigurd Magnusson
Great lessons based on detailed research, inspiring and challenging, enormous insights into how people created companies that have lasted decades and survived changes of CEOs, radical market and economic shifts, and how you can replicate that success.
Hieu
May 02, 2010 Hieu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book offers me nothing new. However, it recalls my deeply-interred belief. It's awakening.
Anurag Kesarwani
Interesting Ideas were conveyed in the book...but i feel that all these ideas cant be applied in the Indian business scenario.
Omari Souza
Mar 21, 2015 Omari Souza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome Read.
Justin Tapp
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials)
To differentiate my review from the myriad others, I try to relate it to church and faith-based organizations. Collins has written his own summary on his website, which is handy. Really, this book is a study on management and organizational behavior in competitive by firms who went from a garage idea to income equivalent to the GNP of small countries and kept growing there for decades. I don't find the commonali
...more
Greg Stoll
Mar 06, 2017 Greg Stoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a whim, I picked up this book at an airport bookstore. I had heard the name of it before, and it was better than I expected. (I’m also a bit of a sucker for business books)

The idea of the book is to examine “visionary” companies (premier in their industry, widely admired, etc.) and try to figure out what makes them different. So the first step is to identify visionary companies, which they did by sending out a survey to top CEOs. (they also set an arbitrary cutoff of founding before 1950) So
...more
Midetobi
Feb 18, 2017 Midetobi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Built to Last'- What I learned
A well-researched Business book which thoroughly describes what building a visionary company entails. It is full of numerous examples from the eighteen sets of Visionary-- Comparison companies studied- from which the findings of the book were derived. After reading this book, you would realize that creating a corporate vision is more of a discovery and in no way a 'wordsmithing' process. Having a vision statement doesn't only make a great company. Visionary compani
...more
Omar Halabieh
Jul 04, 2012 Omar Halabieh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about visionary companies - ones that are built to last. These companies are defined by the authors as ""Visionary companies are premier institutions - the crown jewels - in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long track record of making a significant impact on the world around them. The key point is that a visionary company is an organization - an institution."

The objectives of this book are best summarized by the following excerpt: "In a nutshell, we had t
...more
Muhammad
Dec 23, 2016 Muhammad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Built to Last' by Collins and Poras is the result of a six-year study into the world's most enduring companies, including American Express, Nordstrom, Procter & Gamble, Disney, Wal-Mart, and Sony. In particular, what do these companies have that other don't, and how did some of these brands survive more than 100 years? This classic business title, which is still very much as relevant today as it was when first published in the 1990s, will argue these questions, and more.
Doris Johnson
Mar 01, 2017 Doris Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding! This is a book every entrepreneur should read. It provides time-tested and universal management practices that are critical to real success in business. It's also an interesting and easy read that you'll enjoy. You'll be eager to read every word.
Yevgeniy Brikman
A well written, thoroughly researched, and actionable book on how to build great companies. A must read for any founder, CEO, or manager.

Some fun quotes:

Visionary companies distinguish their timeless core values and enduring purpose (which should never change) from their operating practices and business strategies (which should be changing constantly in response to a changing world).

Gone forever—at least in our eyes—is the debilitating perspective that the trajectory of a company depends on whet
...more
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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 authored or co-authored four books, i
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“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” 12 likes
“Visionary companies are so clear about what they stand for and what they’re trying to achieve that they simply don’t have room for those unwilling or unable to fit their exacting standards.” 6 likes
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