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Built to Last [Quick Summary & Takeaways]

by The Quick Book Summary Team
3 minutes read

Main Topic

The main theme of “Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras is to explore the enduring success of visionary companies and uncover the key habits and principles that set them apart.

Key Ideas or Arguments

  • Clock Building, Not Time Telling: Visionary companies focus on building a lasting legacy rather than chasing short-term gains.
  • Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress: Successful companies maintain their core values and purpose while adapting to changing circumstances.
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs): Visionary companies set ambitious and inspiring long-term goals that drive innovation and commitment.
  • Cult-Like Cultures: These companies develop strong, aligned cultures that energize and motivate their employees.
  • Try a Lot of Stuff and Keep What Works: They experiment and adapt, learning from failures to find what works best.

Chapter Titles or Main Sections

  1. The Best of the Best: Introduction to the concept of “visionary companies.”
  2. Clock Building, Not Time Telling: Explores the idea of creating enduring institutions.
  3. Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress: Discusses the balance between core values and innovation.
  4. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs): Examines the importance of setting ambitious goals.
  5. Cult-Like Cultures: Focuses on the role of culture in success.
  6. Try a Lot of Stuff and Keep What Works: Encourages experimentation and learning from failures.

Built to Last

by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras


Key Takeaways

  • Visionary companies prioritize long-term success over short-term gains.
  • They maintain their core values while adapting and innovating.
  • Setting ambitious goals and fostering strong cultures are essential.
  • Learning from failures and constant experimentation lead to success.

Author’s Background and Qualifications

Jim Collins is a well-respected management consultant, and Jerry I. Porras is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Both authors have extensive research and consulting experience in the field of business management and leadership.

Comparison to Other Books

“Built to Last” is often compared to Collins’ later work, “Good to Great,” which focuses on how good companies can become great. While “Built to Last” explores the characteristics of enduring companies, “Good to Great” delves into the strategies that transform companies from good to exceptional.

Target Audience

This book is primarily aimed at business leaders, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in understanding the principles that underlie the long-term success of visionary companies.

Reception or Critical Response

“Built to Last” has been well-received and praised for its in-depth research and practical insights. It has become a classic in the field of business management and leadership.

Publisher and First Published Date

Published by HarperBusiness, “Built to Last” was first released in 1994.


  • Good to Great” by Jim Collins – For those interested in the transformation of good companies into great ones.
  • Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen – To explore disruptive innovation in business.

Biggest Takeaway

The most significant takeaway from “Built to Last” is that visionary companies prioritize enduring success by maintaining core values, setting ambitious goals, fostering strong cultures, and learning from their failures, thus differentiating them from less enduring organizations.

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