Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies


Built To Last was an extremely thought provoking and eye opening read. Built To Last studies some of the most successful (called the leading companies) and the following companies (non-leaders in an industry). The research for this book produced surprising results for the authors (and the reader). The authors found the there were at least twelve commonly held businesses beliefs that their research refuted. In essence these dearly held business beliefs were myths.

Here is a look at each of the twelve myths and a sound byte describing each:
1. It takes a great idea to start a company Few visionary companies started with a great idea. Many companies started without any specific ideas (HP and Sony) and others were outright failures (3M). In fact a great idea may lead to road of not being able to adapt.
2. Visionary companies require great and charismatic visionary leaders A charismatic leader in not required and, in fact, can be detrimental to a company’s long-term prospects.
3. The most successful companies exist first and foremost to maximize profits Not true. Profit counts, but is usually not at the top of the list.
4. Visionary companies share a common subset of “correct” core values They all have core values, but each is unique to a company and it’s culture.
5. The only constant is change The core values can and often do last more then 100 years.
6. Blue-chip companies play it safe They take significant bet the company risks.
7. Visionary companies are great places to work, for everyone These companies are only great places to work if you fit the vision and culture.
8. Highly successful companies make some of their best moves by brilliant and complex strategic planning. They actually try a bunch of stuff and keep what works.
9. Companies should hire outside CEOs to stimulate fundamental change Most have had their change agents come from within the system.
10. The most successful companies focus primarily on beating the competition. They focus on beating themselves.
11. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Decisions don’t have to either or, but can be boths.
12. Companies become visionary primarily through “vision statements”. Vision is not a statement it is the way you do business.

I would recommend this book to anyone engaged in developing and running a business at any level. If you want to design, build and run a lasting enterprise this book has some ideas and insights worth exploring.


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