Built to Last

James C. Collins , Jerry I. Porras

Built to Last



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As part of a 6-year study conducted at Stanford University Graduate School of Business,James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras analysed eighteen visionary companies,  measuring them against their main competitors, and asking: “"What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the companies compared and what were the common practices that these enduringly great companies followed over time?”. Built to Last is filled with examples and practical ideas that can be applied by managers and business owners of all levels, providing a blueprint as to how to build a prosperous and visionary organisation that stands the test of time.

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Analysis and key concepts


The characteristics of visionary companies: top notch organisation, continued success, and global impact


Visionary companies are not the product of big ideas or great leaders


Visionary companies are founded on core value-based ideology and on a purpose that goes beyond simply making a profit


Refusal to limit your vision and the dynamic between core ideology and drive for progress


Visionary companies are never satisfied and set daring goals to drive progress


Visionary companies focus on experimentation, but working in this kind of environment is not for everyone


Visionary companies look within for new CEOs




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Learn the main management principles followed by visionary companies.
  • Understand how to create a successful organisation that will prosper over time.
  • Learn how to introduce change without compromising the company’s core values.
  • Find a balance between respecting fundamental values and charging forward, both professionally and personally.

James C. “Jim” Collins is a researcher, author, speaker, and consultant on company management, growth, and sustainability. He graduated in 1980 with a degree in mathematical sciences from Stanford University, before going on to complete an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business. It was here that his research and teaching career started, leading, in 1992 to him receiving the Distinguished Teaching Award. He has worked as a product manager for Hewlett-Packard, a senior executive at CNN International, and with several organisations within the social media industry. In 1995, he founded a management workshop in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research and teaches executives from companies in social media. He is author and co-author of numerous books based on his personal research, including the bestseller Good to Great. He also contributes to various publications, such as The Harvard Business Review, Business Week, and Fortune.

Jerry I. Porras is an American organisational theorist, focusing primarily on how companies can improve and maintain high levels of performance by focusing on their core values and a clear goal. He has numerous qualifications, including a BSEE from Texas Western College completed in 1960, an MBA from Cornell University, and a PhD from the University of California. He started his academic career in 1972 at Stanford University, becoming a professor at the Graduate School of Business, where he was Associate Dean from 1991 to 1994. He retired in 1988 and was nominated Lane Professor Emeritus of Organizational Behaviour and Change.

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