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Built to Last by Jim Collins by Mind Map: Built to Last by Jim Collins
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Built to Last by Jim Collins

Clock Building not time telling

“builders of visionary companies tend to be clock builders, not time tellers” (23)

Time Telling

Time Telling is “having a great idea or being a charismatic visionary leader” (23)

Clock Building

Clock Building is “building a company that can prosper far beyond the presence of any single leader and through multiple product life cycles” (23)


1. It takes a great idea to start a great company (7)

2. Visionary companies require great and charismatic visionary leaders (7)


“See the success of visionary companies…as coming from underlying processes and fundamental dynamics embedded in the organization and not primarily the results of a single great idea or some great, all-knowing, godlike visionary who made great decisions, had great charisma and led with great authority” (41).

What is a Visionary Company?


at least 50 years old

multiple CEOs

multiple products

made an idelible mark on the world

widely admired

premier leader in their industry


It takes a great idea to start a great company

Great companies require charismatic leaders.

The most successful companies exist to maximize profits.

They share a common ("right") set of core values.

The only constant is change.

The companies are conservative

These companies are comfortable places to work.

Visionary Companies make their best moves by high level successful strategic planning.

Companies should hire outsiders as CEO's to breath new life into the organization.

Visionary Companies focus on beating the competition.

You can't have your cake and eat it to.

Visionary Companies become visionary by writing vision statement.

no "Tyranny of the OR" embrace the "Genius of the AND"

“Tyranny of the OR” – the rational view that cannot easily accept paradox, that cannot live with two seemingly contradictory forces or ideas at the same time. “The ‘Tyranny of the OR’ pushes people to believe that things must be either A OR B, but not both” (43).

“Genius of the AND” – the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time. Instead of choosing between A OR B, [visionary companies] figure out a way to have both A AND B” (44).

More than Profits

“A fundamental element in the ‘ticking clock’ of a visionary company is a core ideology – core values and sense of purpose beyond just making money – that guides and inspires people throughout the organization and remains relatively fixed for long periods of time” (48).


1. The most successful companies exist first and foremost to maximize profits (8), “A detailed pair-by-pair analysis showed that the visionary companies have generally been more ideologically driven and less purely profit-driven than the comparison companies in seventeen out of eighteen pairs” (55)., “Profitability is a necessary condition for existence and a means to more important ends, but it is not the end in itself for many of the visionary companies. Profit is like oxygen, food, water, and blood for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them, there is no life” (55).

[The] research indicates that the authenticity of the ideology and the extent to which a company attains consistent alignment with the ideology counts more than the content of the ideology” (87).

Core Ideology = Core values + Purpose

Core Ideology

you do not create or set ... you discover it!

you get it by looking inside

do not ask What core values should we hold.

do ask What core values do we hold?

do not confuse a statement for an ideology


purpose is broad, fundamental and enduring

“[Porras and Collins] found that most companies benefit from articulating both core values and purpose in their core ideology” (78).

Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress

“A visionary company carefully preserves and protects its core ideology, yet all the specific manifestations of its core ideology must be open for change and evolution” (81).

“It is absolutely essential to not confuse core ideology with culture, strategy, tactics, operations, policies, or other noncore practices” (82).

Drive for Progress

“Core ideology in a visionary company works hand in hand with a relentless drive for progress that impels change and forward movement in all that is not part of the core ideology” (82).

“Like core ideology, the drive for progress is an internal force. The drive for progress doesn’t wait for the external world to say ‘It’s time to change’ or ‘It’s time to improve’ or ‘It’s time to invent something new.’…In a visionary company, the drive to go further, to do better, to create new possibilities needs no external justification ” (84).

“Through the drive for progress, a highly visionary company displays a powerful mix of self-confidence combined with self-criticism” (84).

Conceptual Framework

Clock Building

Genius of AND

Core Ideology

Drive for Progress

Tangible mechanisms aligning core and progress

BHAG: Big Hairy Audacious Goal

“a true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort…” (94).

Does it stimulate forward progress?

Does it get people's juices flowing?

It should fall outside your comfort zone

consistent with company's core ideology

Hubris Factor

Hubris is overbearing pride

high self confidence

BHAG more audacious to outsiders than insiders

The Goal, Not the Leader

The goal is the motivation mechanism

it acts as stimulus through multi-generations of leaders

Cult-Like Culture

Visionary companies are more demanding




fervently held ideology


tightness of fit


creating an environment that reinforces dedication to an enduring core ideology is clock building




concrete items

internal university, ongoing training programs, orientation

on-the-job socialization

rigorous up-through-the-ranks policies

unique language and terms, corporate songs, cheers, pledges

tight screening

awards and contests

constant verbal and written emphasis on values


“visionary companies were significantly more decentralized and granted greater operational autonomy…” (137)

Try a lot of stuff and keep what works


“visionary companies..often…made some of their best moves not by detailed strategic planning, but rather by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and – quite literally – accident” (141).

Darwin's Theory of Evolution

“[Visionary companies] use BHAGs to define a mountain to climb, and uses evolution to invent a way to the top” (147).

“If you add enough branches to a tree (variation) and intelligently prune the deadwood (selection), then you’ll likely evolve into a collection of healthy branches well positioned to prosper in an ever-changing environment” (146).

“visionary companies…stimulate evolutionary progress toward desired ends within the context of a core ideology – purposeful evolution” (148).

5 Lessons

Give it a try -- quickly, Untitled

Accept that mistakes will be made

Take small steps

Give people the room they need

Mechanisms - build that ticking clock

Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress

“Never forget to preserve the core while stimulating evolutionary progress” (167).

“Core ideology serves as a bonding glue and guiding force that holds a visionary company together while it mutates and evolves” (168).

Evolution = variation + selection

Selection, Does it work?, Does it fit with our core ideology?


J&J, Baby Powder

Marriott, Airplane food

3M, Sandpaper, Masking Tape

Home Grown Management

“visionary companies develop, promote, and carefully select managerial talent grown from inside the company” (173).

“it is not the quality of leadership that most separates the visionary companies from the comparison companies. It is the continuity of quality leadership that matters – continuity that preserves the core” (173).

“Absence of any of these elements can lead to management discontinuities that force a company to search outside for a chief executive – and therefore pull the company away from its core ideology” (175).

Leadership Continuity Loop

Managment Development & Succession planning

Continuity of Leadership Excellence from Within`

Strong Internal Candidates

Preserve the Core and Stimualte Progress

Leadership Dis-Continuity Loop


Poor Managment Development & Inadequeate Succession planning

Dearth of Strong Internal Leadership Candidates

Leadership Gap

Preserve the Core and Stimualte Progress

Corporate Stall

Search for a Saviour

Good Enough Never Is

‘How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?’” (185).

“Superb execution and performance naturally come to the visionary companies not so much as an end goal, but as the residual result of a never-ending cycle of self-stimulated improvement and investment for the future” (185).

“There is no ultimate finish line in a highly visionary company. There is no ‘having made it’” (186).

“Visionary companies…attain their extraordinary position not so much because of superior insight or special ‘secrets’ of success, but largely because of the simple fact that they are terribly demanding of themselves” (188).

“research findings clearly support the concept of continuous improvement, but not as a program or management fad. ... it is an institutionalized habit – a disciplined way of life – ingrained into the fabric of the organization and reinforced by tangible mechanisms that create discontent with the status quo” (186).

“Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company. Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create discomfort – to obliterate complacency – and thereby stimulate change and improvement before the external world demands it” (187).

Build for the Future (and Do Well Today)

“Managers at visionary companies simply do not accept the proposition that they must choose between short-term performance or long-term success. They build first and foremost for the long term while simultaneously holding themselves to highly demanding short-term standards” (192).

“visionary companies consistently invest more heavily in new property, plant, and equipment as a percentage of annual sales than the comparison companies” (192-193).

"The visionary companies also invested much more aggressively in human capital via extensive recruiting, employee training, and professional development programs” (193).

“visionary companies invest earlier and more aggressively than the comparison companies in such aspects as technical knowhow, new technologies, new management methods, and innovative industry practices” (193).

Building the Vision

Waht would we love to see the company look like in 20 years?

The task is to create the future not predict it

envisioning helps to create the BHAG

building the organization as their primary means of creating the future

The End of the Beginning

“Just because a company has a ‘vision statement’ (or something like it) in no way guarantees that it will become a visionary company!” (201)

“The essence of a visionary company comes in the translation of its core ideology and its own unique drive for progress into the very fabric of the organization – into goals, strategies, tactics, policies, processes, cultural practices, management behaviors, building layouts…into everything that the company does” (201).

Seek Consistent Alignment

Paint the Whole Picture, it is no one beach rather the whole

Sweat the Small Stuff, it is lots of little things that make a difference, Walmart shares department P&L

Cluster, Don't Shotgun, Don’t put in place any random set of mechanisms or processes, but put in place pieces that reinforce each other, clustered together to deliver a powerful combined punch (214)

swim in your own current, even if you swim against the tide, your company’s own self-defined ideology and ambitions should guide all of its dealings with reality” (214).

obliterate misalignments, Attaining alignment is not just a process of adding new things; it is also a never-ending process of identifying and doggedly correcting misalignments that push a company away from its core ideology or impede progress” (215).

Keep the universal requirements while inventing new methods, the specific methods visionary companies use to preserve the core and stimulate progress will undoubtedly change and improve. BHAGs, cult-like cultures, evolution through experimentation… – these are all proven methods of preserving the core and stimulating progress. But they are not the only effective methods that can be invented ” (216).