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Book Club Book: Built to Last


Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

built to last, jim collins, science of people book club, science of people

By: Jim Collins

Book Description:

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.

Book Reviews:

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 the same industry. The authors juxtapose Disney and Columbia Pictures, Ford and General Motors, Motorola and Zenith, and Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments, to name a few. The visionary companies, the authors found out, had a number of common characteristics; for instance, almost all had some type of core ideology that guided the company in times of upheaval and served as a constant bench mark. Not all the visionary companies were founded by visionary leaders, however. On the whole, this is an intriguing book that occasionally provides rare and interesting glimpses into the inner workings and philosophical foundations of successful businesses. Recommended for all libraries.

–Randy L. Abbott, Univ. of Evansville Lib., Ind.

No tables, charts, or obfuscatory language interfere with the presentation and development of consultants Collins and Porras’ premise that visionary companies withstand tests of time and fads. On the basis of five years of research, they pinpoint six characteristics of the best American institutions: (1) premier in their industry, (2) widespread admiration from businesspeople, (3) multiple generations of CEOs, (4) an indelible imprint on society, (5) multiproduct (or multiservice) cycles, and (6) pre-1950 roots. The authors’ findings confirm a few management theories but contest many others. More important, they demonstrate the hows of good management in detail, with readable case histories (IBM, Merck, Motorola, Walt Disney, among others) and studies of contrasting corporations, and they include guidelines for those striving for long-lasting success.

–Barbara Jacobs, Booklist 

Built to Last…is one of the most eye-opening business studies since In Search of Excellence

–Kevin Maney, USA Today

“A ‘must read’ for any CEO who aspires to create a great company.”

–T.J. Rodgers, President and CEO, Cypress Semiconductor Corp.

Reading Questions:

  1. How can you incorporate some of the best practices of the “built to last” companies into your business?
  2. Do you have a direct competitor in your industry that you can compare your business to?
  3. How can you and your business be “enduringly great”?

My Challenge:

I am not sure if you have done your Goal-Setting yet, but I have a challenge for you:

Read with us. Learn with us. Grow with us.

Goal: Read 12 books this year and supercharge your people skills

What Kind of Books?

I hope you will help me pick the books! My hope is that we pick books that help improve our people skills in some way, shape or form. This is most likely non-fiction, but I am very open to fiction that looks at people skills through stories. You suggest the book and we vote on it!

And, of course you can get the books as library books, audio books, Kindle books or whatever you want! All of our discussions and post will be public.

Can’t wait to read with you.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a Huffington Post columnist and her courses and research has been featured on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. As a published Penguin author, Vanessa regularly speaks and appears in the media to talk about her research. She is a sought after consultant and speaker.


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