Flashback: The original “Built to Last”

One of  Obama’s SOTU themes last night was jacked from the book Built to Last by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins.

I wonder if any of O’s speech writers have either read the book  or, at least followed up on the companies cited in the book (list below).

I did, and guess what?

Built to Last has been roundly criticized because many of the companies it profiled have subsequently faltered.

According to FastCompany:

Within 10 years of the book’s publication, almost half of the visionary companies on the list have slipped dramatically in performance and reputation, and their vision currently seems more blurred than clairvoyant.

At least 7 of BTL’s original 18 companies have stumbled (8 if you’re cynical about HP)

Each has struggled, and all have faced serious questions about their leadership and strategy.

Odds are, none of them today would meet BTL’s criteria for visionary companies, which required that they be the premier player in their industry and be widely admired by people in the know.

Jim Collins – one of the authors – counters that “The book never promised that these companies would always be great, just that they were once great.”

That makes more sense.  Obama isn’t saying that his America is going to become great (again) and stay great …. just that it once was great.

Now, that’s something to rally around….

* * * * *
Here’s Collins and Porras’ BTL List
… draw your own conclusions.

American Express <= TARP
Boeing  <= NLRB target <= a good thing (unless you’re Team O chasing them)
Citigroup <= TARP
Disney  <= struggling since Cap Cities acquisition
Ford <= least bad U.S. car company
General Electric  <= TARP
Hewlett Packard  <= CEO turnover
Johnson & Johnson
Motorola  <= corporate break-up
Philip Morris (now Altria)
Procter & Gamble
Sony  <= lost its mojo
Wal-Mart  <= evil empire

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One Response to “Flashback: The original “Built to Last””

  1. Mike Says:

    Not to nit pick, but Boeing should not be dinged for being an NLRB target. If anything, that’s a testament to good management decisions.

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