Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rereading a Classic

In 1994, Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California, wrote the following advance praise for a newly published book called Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business, 1994) by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras:

“In Built To Last, which will attain classic status in no time, Collins and Porras present a brilliant and lucid analysis and yes, a blueprint for organizational excellence. It should be required reading for all managers and leaders, corporate, government, not-for-profits.”

Looking back seventeen years later, Bennis was on the mark when he wrote that the book, Built To Last, would be a classic. It has been the foundation for so many other books including Collin’s subsequent books, Good To Great and How The Mighty Fall. Once you begin to explore the key concepts within Built To Last, you will see that numerous other authors have integrated the key concepts into their own work, too.

Given how influential it was to my own consulting practice, to numerous executives I have met over the years, and to many other authors, I decided recently to reread it this summer. So far, it has been an extremely positive experience. I have gone through it the first time and loved every page. I look forward to rereading it a couple of more times as I prepare for the Fall ’11 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable on September 22-23 at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, Coralville, Iowa.

For all of us here today, I encourage you to join me in rereading Built To Last this summer. The book is the summary of a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Collins and Porras took 18 truly exceptional and long-lasting companies - they have an average age of nearly 100 years and have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of 15 since 1926 and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. In short, they asked the question, “What makes truly exceptional companies different from other companies?” and then discovered some very unique answers.

For those of you who are interested in rereading this classic, here is the link to a 1995 Inc. article by Jim Collins called “Building Companies to Last” which captures some of the key concepts:

Happy summer reading and do keep in touch with me about what got you thinking within this book and the above article.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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