Built to Last: Summary Review

Key Things You Should Know About The Book

This is a summary review of Built to Last containing key details about the book.

What is Built to Last About?

“Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras examines what makes certain companies enduringly successful and provides insights into their leadership, culture, and strategies. (Full Summary…)

Built to Last Summary Review

“Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras is an exceptional exploration into the principles that have sustained some of the world’s most successful organizations. The book stands out for its compelling concepts and insightful examples, demonstrating the unique qualities that have allowed visionary companies to thrive over decades. Collins and Porras dissect common myths about corporate success and replace them with evidence-based strategies, drawing from a range of fascinating case studies.

The authors conducted a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, focusing on eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies. These companies, with an average age of nearly one hundred years, have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen since 1926. The research involved a direct comparison of each company with one of its top competitors, studying them from their beginnings to the present day – as start-ups, midsize companies, and large corporations.

The book tackles fundamental questions: What distinguishes truly exceptional companies from others? What sets General Electric, 3M, Merck, Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, and Philip Morris apart from their rivals? Through hundreds of specific examples, Collins and Porras unveil timeless qualities that consistently distinguish outstanding companies. They provide a coherent framework of practical concepts applicable to managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, offering a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper well into the twenty-first century and beyond.

One of the book’s strengths is its ability to debunk the widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies. By examining various companies’ trajectories, including Procter & Gamble, Motorola, and Boeing, the authors emphasize that enduring success is not solely dependent on individual leadership but on enduring values, visionary planning, and adaptability.

Collins, a seasoned researcher and author, brings a wealth of knowledge to the table, having invested over a quarter-century in rigorous research on what makes great companies tick. His partner, Jerry I. Porras, adds valuable insights to the book, making it a comprehensive and insightful read.

The book provides a rich tapestry of wisdom for executives and entrepreneurs, delivering practical guidance without succumbing to management buzzwords or fleeting fads. It’s a classic in the genre, offering not just a snapshot of successful companies but a deep dive into the principles that underpin their lasting success. “Built to Last” is a masterclass in business strategy, leadership, and organizational longevity, making it a must-read for anyone keen on understanding the dynamics of building companies that withstand the test of time.

Who is the author of Built to Last?

James C. “Jim” Collins is an American researcher, author, speaker, and consultant focused on the subject of business management and company sustainability and growth.

How long is Built to Last?

  • Print length: 368 pages

What genre is Built to Last?

Business, Nonfiction, Leadership

What are good quotes from Built to Last?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

“Visionary companies are so clear about what they stand for and what they’re trying to achieve that they simply don’t have room for those unwilling or unable to fit their exacting standards.”

“Visionary companies make some of their best moves by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and—quite literally—accident. What looks in retrospect like brilliant foresight and preplanning was often the result of “Let’s just try a lot of stuff and keep what works.”

“Visionary companies pursue a cluster of objectives, of which making money is only one—and not necessarily the primary one.”

“One of the most important steps you can take in building a visionary company is not an action, but a shift in perspective.”

“When in doubt, vary, change, solve the problem, seize the opportunity, experiment, try something new (consistent, of course, with the core ideology)—even if you can’t predict precisely how things will turn out. Do something. If one thing fails, try another. Fix. Try. Do. Adjust. Move. Act. No matter what, don’t sit still.”

“…it is better to understand who you are than where you are going—for where you are going will almost certainly change.”

“The only truly reliable source of stability is a strong inner core and the willingness to change and adapt everything except that core.”

“Indeed, if there is anyone “secret” to an enduring great company, it is the ability to manage continuity and change—a discipline that must be consciously practiced, even by the most visionary of companies.”

“Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company. Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create /dis/comfort–to obliterate complacency–and thereby stimulate change and improvement /before/ the external world demands it.”

“wouldn’t that person be even more amazing if, instead of telling the time, he or she built a clock that could tell the time forever, even after he or she was dead and gone?3”

“tends to rivet our attention on the Icarus companies”

― Jim Collins, Built to Last

* Key sources: LibraryThing, Amazon, Wikipedia


Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an impact-driven entrepreneur, author, and investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has led him to found Elevate Society.