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The year is drawing to a close, so be on the lookout for a deluge of articles, videos, and opinion pieces recapping 2017. As a software developer executive, it’s fine to look back but it’s more important for you to look ahead this time of year. With that in mind, let’s learn together from the book Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by the legendary Jim Collins and Jerry Porris. The book provides guidance on how to build and innovate your business to adapt for the future.


Here are 37 of my favorite quotes and concepts from Built To Last:


  1. Visionary companies display a remarkable resiliency, an ability to bounce back from adversity.
  2. Visionary companies do not ask, “What should we value?” They ask, “What do we actually value deep down to our toes?”
  3. Visionary companies make some of their best moves by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and — quite literally — accident. “Let's just try a lot of stuff and keep what works.”
  4. Creating a visionary statement can be a helpful step in building a visionary company, but it is only one of thousands of steps in a never-ending process of expressing the fundamental characteristics we identified across the visionary companies.
  5. Concentrate primarily on building an organization rather than on hitting a market just right with a visionary product idea and riding the growth curve.
  6. Be prepared to kill, revise, or evolve of an idea, but never give up on the company.
  7. All products, services, and great ideas, no matter how visionary, eventually become obsolete. But a visionary company does not necessarily become obsolete, not if it has the organizational ability to continually change and evolve beyond existing product lifecycles.
  8. The “Genius of the AND”: The ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time. Instead of choosing between “A” OR “B,” they figure out a way to have both “A” AND “B.”
  9. A visionary company doesn’t simply balance between persevering a tightly held ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme.
  10. We found evidence of a core ideology that existed not merely as words but as a vital shaping force.
  11. Profit is like oxygen, food, water, and blood for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them, there is no life.
  12. Visionary companies don’t merely declare an ideology; they also take steps to make the ideology pervasive throughout the organization and transcend any individual leader.
  13. Beliefs must always come before policies, practices, and goals. The latter must always be altered if they are seen to violate fundamental beliefs.
  14. A visionary company continually pursues but never fully achieves or completes its purpose.
  15. A visionary company can, and usually does, evolve into exciting new business areas yet remain guided by its core purpose.
  16. An effective way to get at purpose is to pose the question, “Why not just shut this organization down, cash out, and sell off the assets?”
  17. Preserve the core and stimulate progress: that's the essence of a visionary company.
  18. In a visionary company, the drive to go further, to do better, to create new possibilities needs no external justification.
  19. Through the drive for progress, a highly visionary company displays a powerful mix of self-confidence combined with self-criticism.
  20. Organizations often have great intentions and inspiring vision for themselves, but they don't take the crucial step of translating their intentions into concrete items.
  21. You don’t need to create a “soft” or “comfortable” environment to build a visionary company. The visionary companies tend to be more demanding of their people than other companies, both in terms of performance and congruence with the ideology.
  22. Because visionary companies have such clarity about who they are, what they’re all about, and what they’re trying to achieve, they tend to not have much room for people unwilling or unsuited to their demanding standards.
  23. Evolutionary progress is unplanned progress.
  24. Detailed plans usually fail because circumstances inevitably change.
  25. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.
  26. The best and hardest work is done in the spirit of adventure and challenge.
  27. If you're involved with an organization that feels it must go outside for a top manager, then look for candidates who are highly compatible with the core ideology. They can be different in managerial style, but they should share the core values level.
  28. Critical question: “How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?” Institutionalize this question as a way of life — a habit of mind and action.
  29. Visionary companies attain their extraordinary position because they are so terribly demanding of themselves.
  30. If you want to innovate, you must bootstrap. It is one of the most powerful, least understood influences that pervades the company.
  31. Visionary companies habitually invest, build, and manage for the long term to a greater degree than the comparison companies in our study. Yet, at the same time, they do not let themselves off the hook in the short term.
  32. A visionary company creates a total environment that envelops employees, bombarding them with a set of signals so consistent and mutually reinforcing that it’s virtually impossible to misunderstand the company’s ideology and ambitions.
  33. Visionary companies don’t put in place any random set of mechanisms or processes. They put in place pieces that reinforce each other, clustered together to deliver a powerful combined punch.
  34. You should be working to implement as many methods as you can think of to preserve a cherished core ideology that guides and inspires people at all levels. And you should be working to invent mechanisms that create dissatisfaction with the status quo and stimulate change, improvement, innovation, and renewal – mechanisms that infect people with the spirit of progress.
  35. The builders of visionary companies tend to be simple – some might even say simplistic – in their approaches to business.
  36. No matter who you are, you can be a major contributor in building visionary companies.
  37. Don’t buy into the belief that building a visionary company is something mysterious that only other people do.


If you’d like to talk more about Built To Last and how to adapt your ISV organization for the future, please reach out to me. My job as a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services is to work with Vantiv partners to help them clarify their vision, hire the best team, develop staff, establish best practice systems, improve customer service, and more.



For more On the Edge content, please visit the Vantiv Partner Advantage website.


Jim Roddy is a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services. He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer.


I just finished one of the best leadership and management books I’ve ever read – Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. I heard about the book while listening to the Read To Lead podcast, and I’m thrilled I purchased a copy. Author Liz Wiseman articulates one of the core reasons Vantiv launched PaymentsEdge Advisory Services last summer: The biggest leadership challenge of our times isn’t insufficient resources per se, but rather our inability to access the most valuable resources at our disposal. People are often ‘overworked and underutilized.’ This book is about leaders who access and revitalize the intelligence in the people around them.


When I look inside POS reseller and ISV organizations, they each have people, plans, problems, and paperwork. But what distinguishes the winners from the also-rans are those companies who take intentional steps to maximize the abilities of their employees. Multipliers provides specific guidance on how you as a business leader can get the most out of your staff and create a thriving organization – and how to avoid diminishing your team’s capabilities.


I’ll share some of my favorite quotes and concepts from Multipliers below, but I strongly encourage you to buy the book and use it as a guide to create a winning culture.


  1. This book began with a simple observation: There is more intelligence inside our organizations than we are using. It led to the idea that there was a type of leader — Multipliers — who saw, used, and grew the intelligence of others, while other leaders — Diminishers — shut down the smarts of those around them.
  2. Multipliers get more from their people because they are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others.
  3. When people work with Multipliers, they hold nothing back. They offer the very best of their thinking, creativity, and ideas.
  4. Multipliers not only access people’s current capability, they stretch it. They get more from people than they knew they had to give.
  5. Here is the logic behind multiplication: Most people in organizations are underutilized. All capability can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without requiring a bigger investment.
  6. Resource leverage is a far richer concept then merely “accomplishing more with less.” Multipliers don't get more with less; they get more by using more. More of people's intelligence and capability, enthusiasm and trust. “80 people can either operate with the productivity or 50 or they can operate as though they were 500.”
  7. Diminishers and Multipliers hold radically different assumptions about the intelligence of the people they work with. Diminishers’ two-step logic appears to be that people who don't “get it” now never will; therefore, I'll need to keep doing the thinking for everyone. Multipliers look at the complex opportunities and challenges swirling around them and think, “There are smart people everywhere who will figure this out and get even smarter in the process.” They see that their job is to bring the right people together in an environment that liberates everyone's best thinking.
  8. Multipliers have a hard edge: They expect great things from their people and drive them to achieve extraordinary results.
  9. Multipliers don't play small: It's not that these Multipliers shrink so that others can be big. It's that they play in a way that invites others to play big, too.
  10. Multipliers have a great sense of humor: Multipliers can laugh at themselves and see comedy in error and in life’s foibles, and their sense of humor has a liberating effect on others.
  11. This book is not a prescription for a nice-guy, feel-good model of leadership. Rather, this book discusses a hard-edge approach to management that allows people to contribute more of their abilities.
  12. The Ameba Model: Don't box people into jobs and limit their contribution. Let people work where they have ideas and energy and where they can best contribute.
  13. Are there people on your team who could lead a revolution if they were unleashed on the right opportunity?
  14. Leaders most often know who the blockers are. The most common mistake they make is waiting too long to remove them. If you want to unleash the talent that is latent in your organization, find the weeds and pull them out. Don't to do it quietly.
  15. When you become the leader, the center of gravity is no longer yourself.
  16. Be direct without being destructive.
  17. Liberators hold two ostensibly opposing positions with equal fervor: “I give you space; you give me back your best work. I give you permission to make mistakes; you have an obligation to learn from the mistakes and not repeat them.”
  18. Tyrants and Liberators both expect mistakes. Tyrants stand ready to pounce on the people who make them. Liberators stand ready to learn as much from the mistake as possible.
  19. Liberators get the best thinking from people by creating a rapid cycle between thinking, learning, and making and recovering from mistakes in order to generate the best ideas and create an agile organization.
  20. Tyrants impose an “anxiety tax” wherever they go, because a percentage of people's mental energy is consumed trying to avoid upsetting the Tyrant.
  21. A manager may be able to insist on certain levels of productivity and output, but someone's full effort must be given voluntarily.
  22. If a leader holds the assumption that it is their role to provide the answers, subordinates wait for the directives they've come to expect. The subordinates act on the leader’s answers; then the leader concludes “they would never have figured this out without me.”
  23. Once a leader accepts that he or she doesn't have all the answers, he or she is free to ask much bigger, more provocative, and, frankly, more interesting questions.
  24. Diminishers ask questions that make a point rather than to access greater insight or to generate collective learning. 
  25. Helicopter Down: It is irresponsible to ask your team to do something if the CEO exposure is only at the 30,000 foot level. You have to take it down and show that it can be done.
  26. The collective intent built within the organization enables the whole group to break through challenges no single leader, however intelligent, could have done alone.
  27. Multipliers aren’t overly swayed by opinion and emotional arguments; they continue to ask for evidence, including evidence that might suggest new or alternative points of view.
  28. Multipliers invest by infusing others with the resources and ownership they need to produce results independent of the leader. They invest, and they expect results.
  29. When we let nature take its course and allow people to experience the natural consequences of their actions, they learn most rapidly and profoundly. When we protect people from experiencing the natural ramifications of their actions, we stunt their learning. Real intelligence gets developed through experimentation and by trial and error.
  30. Letting nature teach is hard. Find the “smaller waves” that will provide natural teaching moments without catastrophic outcomes.
  31. When Diminishers delegate, they dole out piecemeal tasks but not real responsibility.
  32. Micromanagers hand over work to others, but they take it back the moment problems arise.
  33. Leaders do not need to be good at everything. They need to have mastery of a small number of skills and be free of show-stopping weaknesses.
  34. It wasn’t a blind faith that I trust you to get it right; it was a more deeply held confidence that I trust you to learn how to get it right.
  35. When new ideas become new norms, you have cultivated a sustainable culture.



If you’d like to talk more about Multipliers and how to improve your ISV business, please reach out to me. My job as a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services is to work with Vantiv partners to help them with hiring right, developing staff professional development programs, improving customer service, and more.



For more On the Edge content, please visit the Vantiv Partner Advantage website.


Jim Roddy is a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services. He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer.