Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

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Harper Collins, Aug 20, 2002 - Business & Economics - 368 pages
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Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each 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 the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?"

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 21st century and beyond.

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Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies

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What makes a visionary company? This book, written by a team from Stanford's Graduate School of Business, compares what the authors have identified as "visionary" companies with selected companies in ... Read full review

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Storytelling at the level of 'time-telling', rather than 'clock-building'.
Because (IMO) the authors fail to address the special circumstances in which those significant events occurred. The US
economy has changed significantly in these decades, and 'any idea' could end in a great product/service ... which could lead to a great company (if indeed the owners/managers made use of the "best practices -which is the underlying story behind the book).
Nowadays, the 'big idea' or thorough specific-knowledge of the field where one wants to break in is much more needed than when these companies were founded. Otherwise, new entrants can rarely compete: the difference between their cost of capital and that of the competitors already established in the market is plainly too big.
Corolary: make use of the best practices. E.g.: align management and employees interests with that of the firm, promote insiders when possible, etc.
Specifically, they recommend:
1) to make Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs): long-term vision projects that are supposed to be so daring in its scope as to seem impossible for outsiders;
2) Evolutionary Progress: Try a lot of stuff and keep what works; and
3) Good-enough never is, driven self-Improvement.

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About the author (2002)

Jim Collins is author or coauthor of six books that have sold in total more than ten million copies worldwide, including the bestsellers Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall. Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. He now operates a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research, teaches, and consults with executives from the corporate and social sectors.

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