December 2014

Angels in Hell

The Angels in Hell series of photographer GMB Akash, who captured striking and powerful images denouncing child labor in Bangladesh. Some shocking photographs that leave you speachless, revealing the harsh working conditions of children, sent in factories for a pittance as early as the age of five…

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Building Companies to Last

Building Companies to Last by Jim Collins

In a world of constant change, the fundamentals are more important than ever

In this era of dramatic change, we’re hit from all sides with lopsided perspectives that urge us to hold nothing sacred, to “re-engineer” and dynamite everything, to fight chaos with chaos, to battle a crazy world with total, unfettered craziness. Everybody knows that the transformations facing us—social, political, technological, economic—render obsolete the lessons of the past.

Well, I submit that “everybody” is wrong. The real question is, what is the proper response to change? We certainly need new and improved business practices and organizational forms, but in a turbulent era like ours, attention to timeless fundamentals is even more important than it is in stable times.

To identify those timeless fundamentals, Jerry Porras and I embarked upon the intensive six-year research project that led to our book Built to Last. We studied the founding, growth, and development of exceptional companies that have stood the test of time, companies like Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, Merck, Nordstrom, Sony, Disney, Marriott, and Wal-Mart. Those “visionary companies” had both endurance, with an average age of nearly 100 years, and sustained performance. For example, their stock has performed 15 times better than the overall stock market has since 1926. We also studied each visionary company in contrast to a “comparison company” that had roughly the same shot in life but didn’t turn out as well—3M with Norton, P&G with Colgate-Palmolive, Motorola with Zenith, and so on.

By studying companies that have prospered over the long term, we were able to uncover timeless fundamentals that enable organizations to endure and thrive. We studied those visionary companies not only as big business but also as start-ups and growth companies. And they succeeded from their earliest days by adhering to the same fundamentals that can help today’s growth companies emerge from the turbulence of the 1990s to become the HPs, 3Ms, and P&Gs of the 21st century. By paying attention to the six timeless fundamentals that follow, you can learn from what those organizations did right and build your own visionary company.

More Inc. Special Issue—The State of Small Business





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