Vantiv ONE Recommended Read: Built To Last

Blog Post created by jim_roddy on Nov 29, 2017

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.



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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.