Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

This book was gifted to me by my father. My father is a bureaucrat who deals with public relations and public handling on a daily basis. I don’t think, he has read the book. However, I have seen him imbibing most of the habits and values one needs for being “Built to Last”. When he gave this to me, I was only 18years old and was coming about to know about various international companies through newspapers and internet. This book looked more like management research to me and I took like 3 months to read, assimilate and try to implement in my own practice.

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 them. 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. Indeed, entire markets can become obsolete and disappear. Yet visionary companies prosper over long periods of time, through multiple product life cycles and multiple generations of active leaders.

18 visionary companies in this study:

3M American Express




General Electric



Johnson & Johnson





Philip Morris

Procter & Gamble



Walt Disney

A key step in building a visionary company is to articulate a core ideology (core values plus purpose). Core values are the organization’s essential and enduring tenets – a small set of general guiding principles; not to be confused with specific cultural or operational practices; not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency. Purpose is the organization’s fundamental reasons for existence beyond just making money – a perpetual guiding star on the horizon; not to be confused with specific goals or business strategies.

The single most important point to take away from this book is the critical importance of creating tangible mechanisms aligned to preserve the core and stimulate progress. This is the essence of clock building. This is one of my favourite chapters of the book.

I have found two principles to be vital for us to implement. First is home-grown leadership. I would say that some of the biggest problems that have ensued in various situations where we have taken leaders from the “outside” and too quickly put them into influential roles. We have corrected this by requiring people be with us for a season in order to be immersed in our core before being given the privilege to serve in influential roles. Second, and the most important principle that our community needs to implement from this book is finding more and various ways to immerse people into our core values and practices while continuing to be innovative in how we accomplish our mission. On an overall basis, I would recommend this management schools to making it mandatory for B-School students and core leaderships of various organisations

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Who is Nihit Mohan?

Nihit Mohan is a banker, author and a TEDx speaker. He was born & raised in the cradle of cultural diversity of India, & currently resides in Singapore. He did his education from seven schools spread across multiple cities & cultures. He is an engineer by education & has made a successful career in the financial services industry. He hails from a family of engineers, bureaucrats & academicians.

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