The great irony of the book Built to Last is that the title is wrong. It’s a great title. I love the title. I would still keep the title. I can’t take credit for the title. My publisher came up with it. It’s a wonderful title. You look at it and go, “Built to Last. Yes. That just rings true somehow at a gut level.”
But, you know, the comparison companies in Built to Last also lasted. The whole key to the Built to Last study was comparing, say, Johnson & Johnson to Bristol-Myers. But Bristol-Myers also lasted. Right? We were comparing 3M to Norton. And the real question was the difference.
So, what Built to Last was about was not about just building to last, because mediocrity should either be terminated and put out of its misery, or transformed into excellence. It should not just be perpetuated. Built to Last was about building something that is worthy of lasting—building a company of such intrinsic excellence, that makes such a unique and distinctive contribution in some form, in some way, to the world that if that company went away, you would lose some vital piece of the fabric of society. That’s why, for example, the companies you’re looking at here, companies like 3M, companies like Motorola, companies like Johnson & Johnson—it’s hard to picture society without them. They became not only just lasting but also worthy of lasting.