“Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” is a book written by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras and was published in 1994 by HarperCollins Publishers. The book is a study of eighteen successful and long-lasting companies, with the aim of identifying the core principles and practices that contribute to their longevity and success.
The authors chose to study companies that have been successful for more than fifty years, and have outperformed their competitors over a sustained period of time. The companies they studied include some of the biggest names in the business world, such as IBM, Walt Disney, Hewlett-Packard, and Procter & Gamble.
The book is divided into three main sections. In the first section, the authors introduce their research methodology and the characteristics that define a visionary company. They argue that visionary companies are not just successful, but also have a sense of purpose beyond making money. They have a strong set of core values, a clear sense of mission, and a long-term focus. They are also adaptable and able to change with the times while remaining true to their core principles.
In the second section of the book, the authors present their findings on the common practices and characteristics of the visionary companies they studied. They identify six key principles that these companies share:
- A “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG): Visionary companies have a long-term, audacious goal that provides a sense of purpose and direction for the organization. This goal is not something that can be achieved quickly or easily, but is a challenge that inspires and motivates the entire organization.
- Cult-like cultures: Visionary companies have strong cultures that are deeply embedded in the organization. These cultures are not just a set of values or a mission statement, but a way of life for the employees of the company. They are often described as “cult-like” because of the intensity of the commitment and loyalty that employees have to the organization.
- Try a lot of stuff and keep what works: Visionary companies are not afraid to experiment and take risks. They try out new ideas and approaches, and are willing to fail in order to learn and improve. However, they are also disciplined and focused, and are able to identify what works and what doesn’t, and to build on their successes.
- Home-grown management: Visionary companies have a strong commitment to developing their own leaders from within. They focus on hiring and developing talented individuals, and provide them with the opportunities and resources they need to grow and succeed within the organization.
- Good enough never is: Visionary companies have a relentless pursuit of excellence. They are never satisfied with the status quo, and are always looking for ways to improve and innovate. They are also very disciplined in their approach, and are able to maintain high standards across all aspects of their operations.
- Preserve the core and stimulate progress: Visionary companies are able to maintain their core values and principles while still adapting to changing circumstances and environments. They are able to evolve and innovate without losing sight of what makes them successful in the first place.
In the final section of the book, the authors discuss the implications of their findings for business leaders and managers. They argue that the principles and practices of visionary companies can be applied to any organization, regardless of size or industry. They also emphasize the importance of leadership and the role that leaders play in creating and sustaining a successful organization.
Overall, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” is a seminal work in the field of business and management. It provides valuable insights into the characteristics and practices of successful and long-lasting organizations, and offers practical advice for business leaders who want to build a strong and sustainable company. The book has had a profound impact on the business world, and