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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  62,110 ratings  ·  680 reviews
"This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies." So write Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in this groundbr ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 2nd 2004 by Harper Business (first published September 16th 1994)
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Doris Perdue-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)

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Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Peter Aloysius
Dec 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Michael Perkins
Used to know the author and read this book years ago. But his methodology and assumptions are questionable.

Critique from Daniel Kahneman, author of "Thinking, Fast and Slow"

It's easy to connect the dots backwards, as Steve Jobs once put it. Hindsight does not equal foresight.

Luck and timing matter far more than many want to admit.

For example, there were several personal computers that were superior to the IBM/MS version, but they were too early, not a mar
Laura Noggle
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019, business
3.5 rounded up because it made me smile, had some catchy phrases, and was super short.

Preserve the core! Stimulate progress!
J.R. Woodward
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 up
Tõnu Vahtra
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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 rated it really liked it
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 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
Mario Tomic
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A spiritual epiphany was not what I expected when I took 'Built to Last' on a business trip to read on the plane.

I can still remember the moment. I was reading Collins's chapter on the tension between preserving the core while stimulating progress and it struck me..... 'If there's any organization that should be preserving its core values while stimulating progress it's the Church - If there's anyone who should practice this it is Jesus' followers.'

That was the end of the book for that trip.

I s
Radvilė Jusaitytė
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
What I’ve learnt most from “Built to last” is to be a clock-builder not a time-teller.
Very inspiring and detailed book, analysing visionary companies as Disney, 3M, Procter & Gamble and etc. What factors have influenced these companies’ existence and growth for many years? It seems that there are some of them that are similar among all visionary companies.
My top key takeaways from this book would be: BHAG’s, core ideology for a company, “good enough never is”, stimulate progress, constant experi
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
May 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Chris Simmons
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book, detailing the successes of visionary companies and what differentiates them from their competitors. Inspiring, makes me want to implement as many of the suggestions as I can in my own company. I want to read "The Halo Effect", a book a different author that details possible errors in the research done by Collins on this book - balanced viewpoints are important. ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Zhou Fang
I decided to read this book because in The Everything Store author Brad Stone notes Jim Collins' ideas were highly influential on Jeff Bezos. That influence is very apparent after reading both books. The key idea in this book is that "Visionary Companies," defined as a set of companies that are respected as industry leaders by a group of CEOs surveyed and have existed for 50+ years, are distinguished by their unwavering commitment to a core ideology, and willingness to change everything else. A ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The center of the book is the importance of having a core ideology. It’s a good prod into larger than life visionary companies with goals (acronym BHAG – big hairy audacious goals) set 10-30 years in the future. Some passages are very good, some are encouraging the insane hyper capitalism that will one day doom us all. But as much as I was prone to cynical reading the book did manage to spark some business passion and curiosity. I must admit that it does a great job at motivating and doesn’t car ...more
Simon Hohenadl
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Another great book in the Collins series. I've listened to Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All and How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In before. This book repeats some of the concepts and adds some new ones.
It is as well-researched and engaging to listen to as the others.
Jason Carter
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, leadership
Collins' previously reviewed book, Good to Great, is a top-ten business classic. In it, he and his researchers asked the research question, "what attributes separate the great companies from the merely good?"

In this earlier book (which seems in some ways like a sequel) he asks, "what attributes separate the great companies with staying power from those whose star fades over time?"

Wal-Mart is compared to Ames, Boeing to McDonnell-Douglass, IBM to Burroughs, and so on for 18 different comparisons.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some surprising and thought provoking findings can be found in the book (such as evidence that great ideas brought forth by charismatic leaders might be negatively correlated with building a visionary company). However, this is largely descriptive research, and one needs to be careful not to draw a lot of rigid implications out of this. The good thing is that the author himself acknowledges the short-comings of their research at the end of the book (including survivorship bias, which he likens t ...more
Youssef Assad (يوسف  اسعد)
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I started to read this book after finishing Good To Great by Jim C Collins and it's really an excellent book that led me to reformulate my own concept about company's core values, purpose. The following chapters Clock Builder, Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Try a lot of stuff are extremely important and it did help me to see the bigger picture of how a company should operate. definitely, it's a must-read the book for any manager, CEO, Entrepreneur who is interested to contribute in building any co ...more
Sadiq Ali
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Remarkable reading experience provided by the authors, most of the laws described in the book can be applied in individuals lives.

I wonder why the universities haven't had this book in their curriculum? Such a crucial thinking point for them.

A must read for entrepreneurs, business students and startups too.
Sébastien Guy
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book! It will help and will change your mindset of how successful companies works.
Mike Madden
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Refreshing & insightful
Dec 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
Jim Collins is the Bob Woodward of business.
Scott Holstad
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Some pretty decent observations and perceptions, but otherwise a bit subjective when it came to companies being used as examples. That being said, that accusation could rightly be leveled at tons of books, so I'm not sure how fair that is. Still, recommended and a fairly solid effort. ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Navaneethakrishnan Gopalakrishnan
I liked this book very much and especially how the title of the book is derived. ‘Built to last’ is all about visionary companies and how they built themselves to survive the tough periods and did changed the world and still lasted. The author doesn’t categorize only the profitable companies alone as visionary companies, rather how these companies distinguished themselves to categorize their vision and how they started and sustained from the beginning to till now and what we can learn from these ...more
Feb 18, 2017 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
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

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, including the classic BUILT TO LAST, wh

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4 likes · 2 comments
“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.” 17 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.” 10 likes
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