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Built To Last Essay

1166 words - 5 pages

To be successful in today's global marketplace, an organization must learn to adapt in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. Mission statements, goal setting, and planning methods alone are simply not enough anymore. Management fads have given way to time-tested management principles that distinguish good companies from truly great companies. Many organizations have found success by utilizing a technique of balancing their core ideology, stimulating progress, and seeking support by aligning company objectives, strategies, and policies. These companies are what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras call "visionary". Built to Last seeks to discover these timeless management principles that make a company truly "visionary" (Collins & Porras, 2002).
One of the central principles presented in Built to Last is the importance placed upon building the company, rather than relying exclusively on building a specific product or service. Collins and Porras use the metaphor of clock-building versus time-telling to illustrate this point. The distinction is drawn between leaders who are able to merely "tell the time" and those which are capable of "building a clock". Charismatic managers tell the time " they have exceptional skills in the here and now. However, truly great leaders build the clock " they create a company culture that can succeed far beyond the term of any one leader or the life of a product. Visionary companies don't simply follow others in their field, they tend to lead the way. While having a great product or operational idea is time-telling, creating an organization that has the capacity to succeed through many product life-cycles, and under successive leaders, is clock-building. This metaphor shatters the myth that truly successful companies require charismatic leaders or innovative product ideas. Contrary to popular thinking, most visionary companies are not typically top-heavy with overly charismatic leaders. In this type of organization, the company itself is its own greatest product. Collins and Porras conclude, "The continual stream of great products and services from highly visionary companies stems from them being outstanding organizations, not the other way around" (Collins & Porras, 2002). For example, to many people, William McKnight is not a household name. However, Mr. McKnight was a top executive of the visionary 3M Corporation for over fifty years.
At the heart of every visionary company lie its core ideology, or those values and beliefs that form the foundation of a company's existence. Seeing how the visionary companies evolved over most of the last century let the authors observe that while the companies were continually changing in response to the market and to their customers, they had an overall set of core values to which they held constant. The comparison companies often lost ground when they changed their focus, swayed by the desire to maximize shareholder wealth. This idea is illustrated by a quote from David...

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