A reading club with a view to the future

505 Jim Collins: Built to Last

“Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” explores the characteristics and practices of enduring companies that have achieved long-term success. The book identifies key principles and strategies that contribute to their sustained performance and provides insights for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders.



"Built to Last" investigates the fundamental traits shared by visionary companies that have withstood the test of time. Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras present a research-based analysis of exceptional companies, comparing them with less successful counterparts. The book highlights key concepts such as visionary leadership, core values, adaptive cultures, and a relentless focus on innovation and growth. It offers valuable lessons and actionable principles for building enduring organizations.


Title: "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" 

Author: Jim Collins 

Publishing Year: 1994 

Publisher: HarperBusiness 

Length in Hours: 6 hrs and 16 mins

5 main ideas

  1. Visionary Leadership: The book emphasizes the significance of visionary leadership in shaping the direction and purpose of a company. It explores how visionary leaders articulate and sustain a compelling vision that motivates and guides the organization.
  2. Core Ideology: The book delves into the importance of core values and purpose in establishing a strong foundation for enduring companies. It showcases how companies with a well-defined core ideology attract and align employees, customers, and stakeholders.
  3. Cultivating a Built-to-Last Culture: The book explores the role of culture in sustaining long-term success. It examines how visionary companies create adaptive cultures that embrace change, foster innovation, and support continuous improvement.
  4. Building Clock-Building, Not Time-Telling: The book introduces the concept of "clock-building" as opposed to "time-telling." It emphasizes the importance of creating systems and processes that outlast individual leaders, ensuring the company's enduring success.
  5. Embracing the "Genius of the AND": The book challenges the notion of choosing between conflicting strategies, advocating for the integration of seemingly opposing ideas. It explores how visionary companies find innovative ways to reconcile dichotomies and achieve both/and solutions.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Building a visionary company is like planting a tree. You water it, nurture it, and watch it grow into a majestic oak that withstands the storms of competition."
  2. "Visionary leaders are like conductors of an orchestra, bringing harmony and rhythm to the diverse talents and capabilities of the organization."
  3. "Culture is the secret sauce that gives visionary companies their unique flavor. It's like the sprinkle of magic dust that keeps employees happily humming along."
  4. "In a visionary company, change is not feared but embraced, like a breath of fresh air on a sunny day."
  5. "Building a lasting company is a marathon, not a sprint. It's about pacing yourself and staying committed to the long game."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Visionary companies are premier institutions—the crown jewels—in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long history of impacting multiple generations."
  2. "Building a visionary company requires 1 percent vision and 99 percent alignment."
  3. "Enduring greatness comes from building something that will endure beyond you."
  4. "The essence of a visionary company comes in the translation of its core ideology into a set of concrete practices."
  5. "The critical question is not 'What will we become?' but rather 'What will stand the test of time?'"

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing Long-term Vision with Short-term Performance: Navigating the tension between investing in the future and meeting short-term financial expectations.
  2. Preserving Core Values While Adapting to Change: Ensuring that the company's core values remain intact while embracing necessary changes and responding to evolving market dynamics.
  3. Managing Succession and Leadership Transitions: Ensuring a smooth transition of leadership while preserving the company's vision and core ideology.
  4. Balancing Innovation and Stability: Fostering a culture of innovation while maintaining stability and reliability in core business operations.
  5. Sustaining Cultural Alignment Across Global Operations: Managing cultural alignment and cohesion in multinational companies operating in diverse cultural contexts.

5 examples

  1. Walt Disney: The book explores how Walt Disney's vision and unwavering commitment to quality and storytelling transformed his company into an enduring entertainment powerhouse.
  2. IBM: The book discusses how IBM, through its strong corporate culture and adaptive strategies, has successfully evolved and remained a leader in the technology industry for decades.
  3. 3M: The book showcases 3M's innovation-driven culture, where employees are encouraged to experiment and pursue creative ideas, leading to breakthrough products and sustainable growth.
  4. Johnson & Johnson: The book highlights how Johnson & Johnson's core values and commitment to ethical business practices have enabled the company to endure challenges and maintain trust with consumers.
  5. Hewlett-Packard (HP): The book examines HP's founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and their focus on building a company culture that fostered innovation, collaboration, and employee empowerment.

Referenced books

  1. "In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies" by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr.
  2. "Competing for the Future" by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad.
  3. "Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion" by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank.
  4. "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail" by Clayton M. Christensen.
  5. "The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (And What to Do About It)" by Michael E. Raynor.


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"In a visionary company, change is not feared but embraced, like a breath of fresh air on a sunny day."

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