What to keep, what to shuck

Every CEO should read Built to Last

A Business Classic

This week I led two sessions of my Workshop on Strategic Thinking. Preparing for these sessions reminded me of the significance of the 1994 business classic by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last. One of the most important concepts of the book is the theme, Preserve the Core / Stimulate Progress.

Especially at the start of a new year, when many CEOs are getting their strategic plans up to date, the challenge of identifying what must not change within your organization (core values, core purpose), as well as what has to change in order to move you closer to your vision and goals, can be huge. Why? Because we all have the tendency at the beginning of any planning effort to lean too far one way or the other. To succumb to inertia and avoid changing anything, or to vow to start over and change everything, risking even the best of our corporate identity in the process.

It’s tricky business and requires concerted effort to balance the apparently contradictory elements of this theme. But if you consistently get it right, you vastly increase your chances of achieving ongoing improvement.

As an aside, do you think things in our Congress might be going better today if our elected representatives on both sides of the aisle were skilled at simultaneously preserving the core (of their philosophies), while stimulating progress (for out nation)?

Back to Built to Last. This one was published almost 20 years ago, and still resonates with the fertile mind. Do you have any favorites of the business genre that belong in that “oldy goldy” era? If so, I’d like to hear from you.

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