The gurus answer THE QUESTION

Management gurus (real or self-proclaimed) always tread on dangerous territory when they come up with THE ANSWER – particularly the answer to why some companies are more successful than others. I personally think Tom Peters actually gets closest, because his answer is the simplest: Implementation.

In Built to Last Collins and Porras found that long lasting companies are distinguished by:

  • BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goals stimulate progress

  • Cult-like culture

  • Experimentation

  • Home-grown management

  • Good enough never is

Like so much of management and business, this is so much common sense:

Goals: Know where you want to go. Does this really need mentioning, never mind elaboration?

Culture: It exists anyway. It obviously helps if you mix in some passion. Any self-help guru on the internet will tell you that you must follow your passion if you want to be successful, so this is really nothing new either?

Experimentation + Good enough never is: Try things. Keep trying. Innovate if you can. Obviously! With ongoing implementation, you will find things don’t always go to plan, and constant tweaking is required. That is what managers do (successful or otherwise) and still don’t know why some get it right more often.

Home-grown management: It helps if the players are familiar with the rules. Woopeee Do.

In summary: Know what you want to do, know how to do it. Keep trying passionately until you succeed. A pretty good philosophy for life and for business – and it is free of charge. Thank me later.


The book is a few years old now, so this is not a review. And Collins at least applies some discipline and rigour to his research, so it is not a rant against him/them.

It is just a warning to the general reader and student of business. Common sense cloaked as research – as practiced by many, many, many ‘gurus’ should be questioned and carefully considered before accepting it. Being published is no guarantee of veracity or value. And the matter is compounded dramatically  on the web.

Buyer Beware.