A Last Word on How to Build an Organization That Will Last
In a 1990 interview, the cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, William R. Hewlett, talked about his life’s work. “I’m probably most proud of having helped to create a company that by virtue of its values, practices, and success has had a tremendous impact on the way companies are managed around the world. And I’m particularly proud that I’m leaving behind an ongoing organization that can live on as a role model long after I’m gone.”59
Hewlett was talking about organizational development—and so did the other 18 companies in a six-year study of timeless management principles, conducted by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. The authors of Built to Last identified the differences between extraordinary companies and highly successful ones. And what did they discover? Timeless principles that distinguish the extraordinary company from the merely highly successful company. These principles shatter myths and reinforce the critical importance of organizational development.
Here are several of the 12 shattered myths:
1. “It takes a great idea to start a great company.” Wrong. Some of the visionary companies began without any idea and others failed with their original ideas. And, as Collins and Porras note, “all great ideas eventually become obsolete.”
2. “Visionary companies require great and charismatic visionary leaders.” Wrong again. Indeed, high-profile charismatic leaders often hindered the company’s development. CEOs of the ...