For centuries, change agents have met resistance, even from companies that pride themselves on an open culture. The Disposable Visionary mission encourages those with selfless passion to stay the course to put the future first. It also empowers leadership to create a true culture of innovative freedom. Check out our stories, blogs and our book. Also free to contact the authors with any questions or comments. Hopefully, together, we can give companies what they need most — passionate, innovative spirits and the opportunity to pursue “what could be.”
I took an introductory physics course in college. It was taught by John Archibald Wheeler. He was a charming man and a true teacher – always patiently listening to his students. He seemed sweet. Then I learned what a giant he was in the field. He originated the concept of black holes and worm holes and worked out the physics of nuclear fission. (Yeah, he worked with Niels Bohr on the Manhattan Project). He was personally driven by what man could still achieve. I’ll never forget his influence or his gentle nature to get others to question what could lie ahead.
John had an amazing ability to simplify concepts. In finding focus, he said,
“In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.”
30 years later, that was the basis behind “the disposable visionary” mission. We observed that companies always talked how “the company is just the power of our employees,” or “we are nothing without great staff.” There were (and are) even companies that brag about how innovative and empowering they are with their employees.
And then we found out that even within these so called progressive cultures, companies would consistently fire those employees who questioned the status quo, pushed for dramatic ideas, challenged management and put ideas above politics. In short, the very employees who could make the greatest difference were those who were quickly fired when they tried to do so. Politics vs. progress. We kept running into talented people who said, “YES! That’s what happened to me! I just wanted to make my company better and I got fired for it.” And it’s happened to industry changers from J.C. Penney to John Lassiter at Pixar.
That seemed to us to be “the strangest thing” in business. That was why we began to explore why passionate innovators kept pushing their ideas despite their personal risk … and why management allowed and even supported the dismissal of those who kept pushing the envelope. The findings even surprised us but, hopefully, we can encourage those with a heart for innovation and new ideas to keep pursuing “what could be,” and for companies to question their own cultures and managers who stand in the way of true innovation.
Bill Jerome and Curt Powell
[Praeger/ABC-CLIO, Chicago, 2015]
Change agents are often hired to bring new ideas to a company and then face internal obstacles that prevent them from achieving what they were hired to do. This situation results in frustration, conflict and in many cases, termination.
Disposable visionaries are defined as employees who are passionate about new ideas, but either underestimate or intentionally ignore the political environments and the nature of resistance that maintain the status quo and because of this, jeopardize their jobs. The Disposable Visionary offers practical advice and inspiration to these employees who research has shown, can be the most valuable assets any organization can possess.
The Disposable Visionary offers readers:
While companies talk about their desire for change, 60% of change agents surveyed have faced organizational cultures that actually resist new ideas. These visionaries were often fired before they could implement the change they were hired to achieve. This enormous waste of talent has organizational underpinnings that are explored in the book.
The cost to change-resistant companies is considerable, as demonstrated by one of the many examples cited in The Disposable Visionary. John Lassiter was fired by Disney for suggesting that computer animation should be used for more than just backgrounds. After his termination he went on to help grow Pixar, which Disney paid $7.4 billion to acquire.
Written with wit, poignant insights and well-documented examples, The Disposable Visionary provides practical advice and encouragement to those who believe in passionately promoting new ideas. Authors Jerome and Powell each have more than 30 years of experience advising corporations and associations as senior executives, consultants and change agents. Both alums of Northwestern University, they met early in their careers working in a product development skunk-works for Citicorp. Combined, they have helped over 100 organizations in the fields of financial services, healthcare, energy and education to develop new and better ways to serve their customers.
The Disposable Visionary can be ordered directly from Amazon.com, directly from Praeger publishing or various other bookstores and outlets.