Sunday, May 5, 2013

Build to Last: The Best of The Best

Had started reading "Built to Last" since a while; and realized that it's not just about building a company that would last for couple decades, but also it's about building a "Personality" & a "Nation" that could last for decades as well.

So, I thought I should keep some notes/excerpts
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What is a visionary company? Visionary companies are premier institutions - the crown jewels - in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long track record of making a significant impact on the world around us. The key point is that a visionary company is an organization -an institution. All individual leaders, no matter how charismatic or visionary, eventually die; and all visionary products and services - all "great ideas"- eventually become obsolete.

12 Shattered Myths:
  • Myth 1: It takes a great idea to start a great company.
    Reality: Visionary companies often get off to a slow start, but with the long race.
  • Myth 2: Visionary companies require great and charismatic visionary leaders.
    Reality: They sought to be clock builders, not time tellers.
  • Myth 3: The most successful companies exist first and foremost to maximize profits.
    Reality: Visionary companies pursue a cluster of objectives, of which making money is only one -and not necessarily the primary one. Yes, they seek profits, but they're equally guided by a core ideology -core values and sense of purpose beyond just making money.
  • Myth 4: Visionary companies share a common subset of "correct" core values.
    Reality: The crucial variable is not the content of a company's ideology, but how deeply it believes its ideology and how consistently it lives, breathes, and expresses it in all that it does. Visionary companies do not ask, "What should we value?" They ask, "What do we actually value deep down to our toes?".
  • Myth 5: The only constant is change.
    Reality: a visionary company almost religiously preserves its core ideology -changing it seldom, if ever. Yet, while keeping their core ideologues tightly fixed, visionary companies display a powerful drive for progress that enables them to change and adopt without compromising their cherished core ideals.
  • Myth 6: Blue-chip companies play it safe.
    Reality: Visionary companies have judiciously used BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) to stimulate progress and blast the comparison companies at crucial points in history.
  • Myth 7: Visionary companies are great places to work, for everyone.
    Reality: Only those who "fit" extremely well with the core ideology and demanding standards of a visionary company will find it a great place to work.
  • Myth 8:  Highly successful companies make their best moves by brilliant and complex strategic planning.
    Reality: Visionary companies make some of their best moves by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and -quite literally- accident.
  • Myth 9: Companies should hire outside CEOs to stimulate fundamental change.
    Reality: Home-grown management rules at the visionary companies to a far greater degree than at the comparison companies (by a factor of six). Time and again, they have dashed to bits the conventional wisdom that significant change and fresh ideas cannot come from inside.
  • Myth 10: The most successful companies focus primarily on beating the competition.
    Reality: Visionary companies focus primary on beating themselves. Success and beating competitors comes to the visionary companies not so much as the end goal, but as a residual result of relentlessly asking the question "How can we improve ourselves to do better tomorrow than we did today?". They never think they've done "good enough".
  • Myth 11: You can't have your cake and eat it too.
    Reality: Visionary companies embrace the "Genius of AND" - the paradoxical view that allows them to pursue both A AND B at the same time.
  • Myth 12: Companies become visionary primary through "vision statement".
    Reality: Creating a statement can be a helpful step in building a visionary company, but it is only one of thousands of steps in a never-ending process of expressing the fundamental characteristic we identified across the visionary companies.

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