Monday, September 01, 2008

Re-Reading Built to Last

I'm re-reading Built to Last, the one book I keep referencing when talking about my startup. For one, it's one of the business books that's backed solid comparison studies, and its claims are backed by evidence. But it also emphasizes a style of building a company that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It promotes building your company such that it has:
  • Core Values, out of which profits are not the #1 goal, but in balance with interests of employees, customers, and investors. A great example of this is Johnson & Johnson’s Credo.
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goals - clear-cut, compelling, cutting edge goals the company sets to progress forward. An example is Boeing’s BHAG of building the 747.
  • Cult-like Cultures: A cohesive staff of people who share company’s core ideology, are indoctrinated into the company culture, and develop a tight fit with others in the company, Nordstrom's sales teams operate in this manner.
  • No charismatic figurehead leader, but leadership that focuses on building the organization instead of investing their time in extensive PR work. Sam Walton is this kind of guy.
  • Constant experimentation that quickly addresses emerging market opportunities. While this is especially true for technology companies, a great example in the book is how Marriott invented the highly profitable flight catering business after seeing its customers buy lunch boxes for flights.

As an entrepreneur, if you haven’t read this book, you should.

P.S.: Here's a great article about the book's validity today.


Anonymous said...

Trivia: Jeff Bezos gave all management a copy of that book around 1998, so around a time when he followed his vision despite making million (billions?) of dept. I guess it worked ;)

marc tobias

Valio ( said...

Hi Gabor,

“Built to Last” is a great book. A few months ago I found this list and think that it’s a very interesting.

I read few of them - they are really impressive.

Good luck with your new project!