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Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies [Hardcover]

James Collins , Jerry Porras , Jim Collins
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: £22.50
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Book Description

1 Sep 2005

'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.'

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each company 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 other companies?'

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 twenty-first century and beyond.

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Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies + Good To Great + Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck - Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business; New Ed edition (1 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 818400477X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844135844
  • ASIN: 1844135845
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"'One of the most eye-opening business studies since In Search of Excellence.'" (Kevin Maney USA Today)

"'Built to Last is an unusual business book - seriously researched, unconventional in its conclusions...[It] is well worth reading, particularly by those engaged in trying to reinvigorate our nation's largest enterprises.' " (Richard J. Tofel Wall Street Journal)

"'In Built to Last, Collins and Porras present a brilliant and lucid analysis and, yes, a blueprint for organizational excellence. It should be required reading.'" (Warren Bennis)

Book Description

The key to building an organisation for lasting success.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars solid yet pedestrian, like lots of businesses 9 July 2011
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
As I dutifully plow through the currently popular business books - and I read only the ones that I need rather than for pleasure - I occasionally find a good and (fairly) interesting one. This is one of those books I would recommend. Instead of overflowing with ridiculously florid rhetoric about recycled banalities and excitement that is simply not justified, this book is based on solid research and is not afraid to offer un-spectacular advice.
It is about what the authors call "visionary companies," which stand for something beyond just making money and yet are profitable. They do well, and they do good. There is no doubt that such companies exist, which I admit in spite of my boredom and cynicism regarding most of the businessmen and "business intellectuals" that I deal with as a writer.

Set up like an academic study, the book is a synthesis of the authors' findings while taking a long historical view of consistently excellent (i.e. "visionary") companies like H-P, Merck, and P&G.

Not surprisingly, these companies do similar things: 1) they have visions and value that they try to uphold consistently throughout the company and to which they stay true over decades; 2) the set incredibly ambitious (and in retrospect realistic) goals that inspire their employees ("big hairy ambitious goals"); 3) they are cult-like in their beliefs in themselves; 4) they allow for trial and error, which lead to "evolutionary progress"; 5) they hire leadership from within; 6) they cultivate keeping their employees a bit off-balance ("uncomfortable") as a way of getting them to perform at their best; 7) they make sure that all elements work in concert and are internally consistent and self-reinforcing ("alignment").
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is an inspiring book, and informative. It answers the "what" question convincingly. I missed answers to the "why" questions. Why, for example, are successful visionary companies characterized by their emphasis on ethical standards? There are many possible explanations: the staff of the company are inspired by the ideals and give more to their employer; the companies reap payoffs in the long term from grateful recipients of their honorable deeds; the companies acquire a good reputation which increases sales and hence profits. More interesting, is the question of the logic of ethics in the business game - not even touched by these authors.
According to Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, it does not matter what the company ideology is, as long as it is passionately believed by the management and employees. I find this a dubious claim, and not supported by the data. The ideological frameworks of the companies that were studied are not interchangeable, not for the trivial reason that the ideology of another company happens not to be the one believed by each of them. Boeing is unlikely to spend money on a program to cure river blindness in Africa. Why does Merck do this? Clearly, a pharmaceutical firm does well to invest in a reputation for medical generosity that flows from a passion for making people well? Merck is purchasing precisely the trust that pays-off in the medical market place. Trust reduces transaction costs, and in some cases is almost as good as a monopoly. Boeing, on the other hand, must buy a brand name attached to their dedication to engineering excellence. It does matter what companies are passionate about.
My company operates on the Internet. Our pledge includes the words: "The tragedy of the commons is the propensity of users to take more from the commons than they give.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning the good into the great 28 Oct 2009
By Jonathan Kettleborough VINE VOICE
I read the original of this book many years ago. It had a profound effect on me. How could two sets of seemingly similar organisations fair so differently when it came to brand, market share and above all sales and profit? What was it about the great companies that stood them aside from the merely good?

In this book the myths are unravelled and the truth is laid bare. The great companies have something deep inside them, their vision and values and perhaps their corporate soul.

Bu then all companies these days have visions and values. The difference with the great companies is that they really live these values, everyday and in everything they do. When Johnson & Johnson were faced with a potentially crippling product recall that was not of their doing they had a very simple decision to make. It cost them hundreds of millions of dollars but it was right and the customer trust of the brand increased. Remember Perrier? Few people do. Once the leading bottled water, where is it now? The reason; because Perrier decided NOT to act on a potentially crippling product recall that WAS it's fault. The result people deserted the brand in droves.

This is just one example but a real world one that illustrates why these great companies have stood out and flourished. This book gives dozens of examples which are well worth a second and third read.

It looks easy on paper but as anyone in business knows, doing the right thing at all times is NEVER easy.

A timeless book which delivers so much. If I had one criticism it's that the companies are just too US centric.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Well written and thought provoking
Excellent read. Well written and thought provoking
Published 29 days ago by Darren Lee
3.0 out of 5 stars Built to Last
Like all Jim Collins' work it is well researched, but I suspect many copanies will succeed or fail for completely differeent reasons
Published 7 months ago by julian phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected!
I have to admit that I had put off reading this book as I suspected it may be a bit boring, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential basic work for organizational strategy lovers
Built to Last is essential ground-work for all organizational strategy lovers to understand organizational dynamics. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jessica Genauer
5.0 out of 5 stars Preserve the Core / Stimulate Progress
Nearly 20 years ago this book has been written, and it is still so applicable !

Based on scientific research on “visionary” companies, a lot of interesting findings are... Read more
Published 14 months ago by VD
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book for any organisation
Similar to the prequel for this book, Good to Great, this text looks at what makes a company not only perform to excellence, but what makes it last over a period of time. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Si
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read business book:
This book was really useful for me to read ... And I love to still have it at hand among my favorite business books.
Published 17 months ago by Hans Jørgen Brill
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I ever read on this topic
The book is really amazing. It's really nice to read and contains tons of tips for managers who want to contribute to the growth of their organization. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mark Verheyden
4.0 out of 5 stars Impermanence Is The Only Certainty
This is the sequel to Good to Great, although if the two books were a cake this would be the filling and Good to Great would be the icing, eat the filling and leave the icing to... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Andy Robins
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for inspiration even as an employee
I read built to last because I was interested in what causes certain organisations(teams of people) to operate so much more effectively than others. Read more
Published on 18 July 2012 by M. SMITH
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