Built to Last : Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Version: Abridged
Author: Jim Collins , Jim Collins
Narrator: Jim Collins , Jim Collins
Genres: Business & Economics, Management & Leadership
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published In: November 2004
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours
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"This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor even is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies." So write James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras in this groundbreaking book that shatters myths, provides new insights, and gives practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time.
Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies -- they have an average age of nearly one hundred years and have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen since 1926 -- and studied each company 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 other companies?"

What separates General Electric, 3M, Merck, Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, and Philip Morris from their rivals? How, for example, did Procter & Gamble, which began life substantially behind rival Colgate, eventually prevail as the premier institution in its industry? How was Motorola able to move from a humble battery repair business into integrated circuits and cellular communications, while Zenith never became dominant in anything other than TVs? How did Boeing unseat McDonnell-Douglas as the world's best commercial aircraft company -- what did Boeing have that McDonnell-Douglas lacked?

By answering such questions, Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and fads of the day to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished outstanding companies. They also provide inspiration to all executives and entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies.

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 twenty-first century and beyond.

Reviews (6)


Written by David Clark on August 23rd, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book does a wonderful job of analyzing businesses and identifying winning traits. A must read for any professional or business person.

Built to Last

Written by Bill Harris on June 30th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Very good big picture look at what visionary companies do differently than companies focused more on profit. The book looks at many real world examples to drive home the message and does a great job. I recomend the book to those in a leadership role at a growing company. One note, the forward in the book recomends that you read Good to Great first (same authors).

Built to Last, Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Written by Anonymous on March 4th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Found it to be very imformative and would suggest others listen to it.

Built to last

Written by Anonymous on August 9th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Don't know if I agree with the conclusion of this book. Namely, great enduring companies endure because of great infrastructures that fosters greatness. From my observation, a single jerk at or near the top can blow even a great company. Anyone remember Arthur Anderson?

Great Writing with Sketchy Conclusions

Written by Rich on April 24th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I don't think a lot of people realize that Built to Last was published in 1994. It is only with the skyrocket popularity of Good to Great (published in 2001, but a bestseller in 2005) that Built to Last has re-graced bookshelves at all. The technical aspects of the writing are wonderful, weaving convincing arguments the way a high school lyricist weaves urban tales for his friends. And with the same result: the study doesn't hold up, especially not with the 11 years of hindsight we have on it. For starters, much of the research is on consistent growth and performance of specific companies against the general stock market, from 1926 to 1990. While the author correctly points out that this era covers a fantastic amount of change, he wrongfully dismisses that point, continuing to build his thesis on the shaky foundation that "what worked through the 1950's and 1960's is bound to work today". "Built to Last" is an interesting business history, but a terrible roadmap for success.

Great Research

Written by Super Commuter from Austintown, OH on March 20th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book was great to listen to. I loved that the authors did research and then came to conclusions. It was much better than books that have a theory and go looking for examples to back it up. The little stories and trivia presented were very interesting. The main ideas presented were well supported and seemed to make sense. Since I haven't listed to Good to Great yet I'm looking forward to getting it and anything else these guys have done. I highly recommend it.

Author Details

Author Details

Collins, Jim

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has authored or co-authored four books, including the classic BUILT TO LAST, a fixture on the Business Week best seller list for more than six years, and has been translated into 29 languages. His work has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company.

Jim’s most recent book, GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t attained long-running positions on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week best seller lists, has sold 3 million hardcover copies since publication and has been translated into 35 languages, including such languages as Latvian, Mongolian and Vietnamese.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, 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. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts research and teaches executives from the corporate and social sectors. Jim holds degrees in business administration and mathematical sciences from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at over a hundred corporations. He has also worked with social sector organizations, such as: Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents, and the United States Marine Corps. In 2005 he published a monograph: Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made one-day ascents of the North Face of Half Dome and the Nose route on the South Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. He continues to climb at the 5.13 grade.

Collins, Jim

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter-century in rigorous research, he has authored or coauthored six books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, and Great by Choice.Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award