BIG Ideas to BIG Results: Leading Corporate Transformation in a Disruptive World

Robert H. Miles / Michael T. Kanazawa  
Total pages
December 2015
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Today, your business has immense new opportunities to disrupt markets and delight customers. But truly impactful innovation and business transformation is as brutally difficult as ever. In BIG Idea to BIG Results, two world-renowned consultants introduced the first complete strategic methodology for business transformation: an approach fully grounded in reality, inclusive of people, and 100% results-oriented. Now, in this extensively updated Second Edition, they’ve integrated new Transformation Competencies to help you “disrupt and delight” with even greater speed, intensity, and impact.


Building on their pioneering work with hundreds of senior executives, EY’s Michael Kanazawa and Dr. Robert H. Miles now show you how to: 

  • Transform your “purpose” from a paper mission statement to a shared burning ambition that really can drive your strategic transformation
  • Leverage agile innovation techniques to move faster, reach value earlier, reduce execution risks, and overcome change gridlock
  • Completely rethink the way you use digital, embedding it throughout your strategy, business model, products, and services
  • Use “Speed Brakes” to systematically manage each of the factors that can inhibit or accelerate your transformation
  • Start using prioritization as a management discipline, not just a project management activity

Whatever your role in driving your business forward, BIG Idea to BIG Results, Second Edition will help you align behind what really matters now, bias your people towards speed and action, and harness their energy instead of wasting it. Kanazawa and Miles will help you find the right path for your business transformation, clear away your obstacles to innovation, and get there – more surely and rapidly than ever before.


Master the new strategic transformation competencies you need to delight customers and win – now, and into the 2020s! 

  • Now fully updated with new transformation competencies you need to disrupt and delight with unprecedented speed, intensity, and impact
  • By two world-class transformation experts: EY’s Michael Kanazawa and Dr. Robert H. Miles
  • Shows how to integrate purpose as a shared “burning ambition” for all the changes you make
  • Helps you leverage Agile Innovation methods honed and proven in software development
  • Shows how to fully embed digital throughout your strategy, business model, and offerings
  • Extends Robert H. Miles’ immensely influential Harvard Business Review article on Speed Brakes: managing the readiness, inhibitors, and accelerators of business transformation

Table of Contents

Preface xvii

Chapter 1: Accelerated Corporate Transformation: The Foundations 1

Tactical Is Not Transformative 4

Get Your ACT Together 7

Make Transformation a Simple Routine 11

The ACT Basics: Powerfully Simple 12

Creating Safe Passage—A Clear Transformation Process 15

This Is Not a New Religion, Just a Better Way of Managing the Business 18

Tips for Planning an Accelerated Corporate Transformation 19

Endnotes 20

Chapter 2: Structuring Your Transformation Launch 21

Imprinting Your Organization 21

Structuring Rapid Transformations 22

The No-Slack Launch 23

Launch Speed = Simplicity × Compression 26

The In-Between Work 29

Devil in the Meeting Details 30

Transformation Initiative Co-Champion Structure 32

Quick Starts 36

Tips for Structuring Your Transformation Launch 39

Endnotes 40

Chapter 3: Crafting Your Launch Process 41

Confronting Today’s Reality 42

About the Emperor’s Clothes 44

Dialogue Versus Discussion 45

Generating Dialogue as a Leader 47

Priming the Pump 49

Canary in a Coal Mine 50

How Tablework and Structured Dialogue Work 54

Creating Safe Passage 60

Tips for Crafting Your Transformation Launch Process 62

Endnotes 63

Chapter 4: The Focus Phase 65

Gridlock and the Task Overload Epidemic 66

Best Intentions in Big Box Retail 67

Undermining Accountability and Customer Loyalty 69

Busting Through Gridlock 69

The Leader’s Challenge: “Doing More ON Less” 70

Sharpening the Transformation Arrow 70

A One-Page View of the Future 72

Articulating a Purpose 74

Creating a Strategic Vision 76

Distilling the Business Success Model 79

Due Diligence on Yourself 80

Transformation Initiatives: The “Hows” 84

Triage to Three Corporate Initiatives 85

Tips for Orchestrating the Focus Phase 88

Building the Transformation Arrow 88

Endnotes 89

Chapter 5: The Align Phase 91

Absolute Alignment 92

Individual Commitments to Action 92

Alignment of Commitments Across “Silos” 94

Where Should Lightning Strike? 95

Alignment of Values 97

The Values-Performance Nexus 100

Structuring Widespread Commitment 101

The First “Stop Doing” Pause 103

Put Your Money Where Your Game Plan Is 105

The Bottom Line on Alignment 106

Gut Check on Commitment 109

Tips for Simplifying the Align Phase 109

Endnotes 110

Chapter 6: The Engage Phase 111

Rapidly Engaging the Full Organization 111

It’s All About Engagement 112

Quantum Leaps 113

“Back in Black” Friday 114

Employee Engagement Is Not Barbeque 115

Spreading High Engagement 116

Critical Importance of Dialogue 118

Hear It from My Boss 118

The Rapid, High-Engagement, All-Employee Cascade 120

The Transformation Engine 123

The Employee Supercharger 124

The Leader-Led Double Loop 130

Employee Responses to High Engagement in Transformation 131

Follow-Through on Execution and Learning 133

Cascade as Transformation Accelerator 134

Cascade as Trojan Horse 134

Overcoming the “Buts” 135

Tips for Cascading the Engage Phase 137

Endnotes 137

Chapter 7: The Execution Phase 139

Over the Hump and Into the Slump 139

Hump #1: The Post Launch Blues 142

Ballast and Keel 144

Company-wide Transformation Initiative Teams 145

Execution “Oversight” 147

Quarterly Leadership Checkpoints 148

Hump #2: Midcourse Overconfidence 150

The Process Is Not a One-Time Overlay 151

Midcourse Assessment 152

Mini-Cascades 153

Hump #3: Presumption of Perpetual Motion 158

Launching Year 2 158

Oh Right, the Behaviors.. 162

You Don’t Get to Relax 163

Plan to Punctuate the Equilibrium Regularly 164

Tips for Overcoming Predictable Execution Humps 165

Endnotes 166

Chapter 8: Perspectives on Speed and Outside-In 167

Speed Is the New Management Discipline 167

Get the Train Moving, Now 167

Benefits of Productive Speed 170

All Aboard at Internet Speed 172

The Discipline of Productive Speed 176

The Outside-In Perspective 176

On the Outside Looking In 177

Send Employees Out 178

Talk with Customers and Noncustomers 180

You Are Here: Map the Market 182

Tips for Incorporating Speed and Outside-In Perspectives 187

Endnotes 187

Chapter 9: Building Transformation Traction 189

Building Traction Through Transformational Leadership 189

Commit with Confidence, Publicly 190

Simple Closed-Loop Accountability 191

Promises Versus Declarations 196

Shoot for the Moon—Drive Innovation 197

Above and Below the Waterline 200

Don’t Get Overly Fixated on the Dashboard 201

Ground Truth: The Real Results 203

Misguided Incentives 206

The Process Support Team 208

Performance Coaching 209

Tips for Building Corporate Transformation Traction 211

Endnotes 211

Chapter 10: Disruptive Innovation in Transformation 213

Purpose-Infused Transformation: The Three I’s 215

Design-Centered Strategic Thinking 217

Enterprise Social Media and Wisdom-of-the-Crowd 220

Agile Business Innovation 224

Tips for Leveraging Disruptive Transformation Methodologies 226

Endnotes 227

Chapter 11: Are You Up to the Challenge? 229

White-Hot Commitment of the Leader 229

Change the People, or Change the People 231

You Don’t Have All the Answers (And Nobody Expects You To) 235

Get Real 237

Go for It! 238

About the Authors 241

Index 245



Robert H. Miles, PhD, President, Corporate Transformation Resources, is a global thought and practice leader in the fields of corporate transformation and executive leadership. He has served CEOs as the principal process architect in over 30 CEO-led corporate transformations. A summary of the major insights from this experience, titled “Accelerating Corporate Transformations—Don’t Lose Your Nerve!” appeared as a feature article in the January–February 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review and was recently reprinted in the quarterly “Reinvention” issue of HBR OnPoint.


Over the past two decades Bob has pioneered an Accelerated Corporate Transformation (ACT) methodology at such leading companies as Apple, Black & Veatch, Florida Rock, General Electric, IBM Global Services, Infineon Technologies, National Semiconductor, Office Depot, PGA Tour, Rockwell, Southern Company, and Symantec, as well as a number of emerging high-tech companies. Bob also is the author or coauthor of a series of books on corporate transformation and organizational effectiveness, including Macro Organizational Behavior, The Organization Life Cycle, Coffin Nails and Corporate Strategies, Managing the Corporate Social Environment,Corporate Comeback, Leading Corporate Transformation: Blueprint for Business Renewal, BIG Ideas to BIG Results Remake and Recharge Your Company, Fast; and now its sequel BIG Ideas to BIG Results: Leading Corporate Transformation in a Disruptive World.


Frequently serving as a Process Architect to executive leaders as they plan, launch, and refocus their corporate transformation efforts, Bob helps new CEOs “take charge” and sitting CEOs launch the next major phase in their organization. A trademark of his approach has been the Rapid, High-engagement, All-employee Cascade, which launches the Execution Phase by quickly focusing everyone in the enterprise on a shared set of business performance and cultural corporate transformation initiatives for breakthrough results.


On the Yale School of Management and Harvard Business School faculties for many years, Bob taught in the MBA, doctoral, and senior executive programs. At Harvard he was also Faculty Chairman of an innovative two-week residential program that helped CEOs and their teams plan corporate transformations.


He is a cofounder of the Macro Organizational Behavior Society, a convocation of elected global scholars held each year at Harvard Business School. And after a decade of corporate transformation work in Silicon Valley, he briefly returned to academe as the Isaac Stiles Hopkins Distinguished University Professor and Dean of the Faculty to help guide the transformation of the Emory, now Goizueta Business School at Emory University.


Bob served for over a decade as a faculty member at both the Stanford Executive Institute and at GE’s Crotonville Operations (where he redesigned and taught all of the executive-level change management modules). He also served on the Editorial Review Boards of Management Science and Administrative Science Quarterly and on the Advisory Board of the Organizational Effectiveness Division of The Conference Board. He was Chairman of the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management.


Earlier in his career, Bob was an Operations Analyst at Ford Motor Company, a First Lieutenant (Armor) in the U.S. Army, Special Assistant to the Director of Research, Development and Engineering at U.S. Army Missile Command, and a Project Manager at the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Later in his career he served on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Department of Energy.


Bob received a BS from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia (where he served for two decades on the Advisory Board) and a PhD in Business Administration from the Kenan- Flagler School at the University of North Carolina.


He lives with his wife, Jane, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Chatham, Massachusetts. He may be reached at His website is www.CorpTransform.

Michael T. Kanazawa, is an entrepreneur and advisor to global corporate leaders in the areas of innovation, strategy and transformation. Based in Silicon Valley, his career has been shaped by creating disruptive innovations and driving strategic transformations with the world’s leading technology companies and global market leading companies. He has also been a founder and owner of two firms that were both successfully built and sold, including the most recent to Ernst & Young (EY), where he serves as a strategy partner and as the global methodology architect of Purpose-Led Transformation.


The central concepts in his work are rooted in putting customers at the center and collaborating across disciplines and diverse mindsets to drive innovation, strategy and transformation. Early in his career, Michael worked in the same maze of cubicles as Dilbert’s creator Scott Adams. That experience inspired him to learn from the best leaders who operated more deeply and beyond the “typical” mold of a corporate leader. This has turned into a lifelong quest to build and shape organizations that delight customers in new ways, disrupt industries, and liberate the full capacity of human ingenuity and creativity.


Clients have included Silicon Valley growth companies, private equity investors, and global corporations, such as AT&T, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, PG&E, Schlumberger, Symantec, and Verizon. Michael is frequently referenced in national media and often serves as a keynote speaker at corporations, associations, and universities on the topics of innovation and transformation.


Michael holds a BA in mathematics and economics from U.C. Santa Barbara and an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. You can follow or reach him at


Reader Review(s)

“Kanazawa and Miles join forces to provide leaders a remarkable roadmap for successfully transforming their organizations for breakthrough performance. Their very practical and straightforward playbook is a must read for leaders at all levels in the 21st century.”

—Noel M. Tichy, Global leadership authority


“This book is a must read for leaders building focused and strategically driven businesses. Mike and Bob, the knowledge practice leaders in transformation leadership, here provide important insights for managers who aspire to impact the direction of their organizations.”

—John W. Spiegel, Chairman, S1 Corporation, and Former Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, SunTrust Banks, Inc.


BIG Ideas to BIG Results is Must Reading. Mike and Robert have honed the Accelerated Corporate Transformation Process based on innovative thinking and extensive real world corporate transformation experience.”

—Sam Araki, CEO, ST-Infonox, and Former President, Lockheed-Martin Missiles and Space


“Kanazawa and Miles provide you with a roadmap for success. They show you how to keep it simple, communicate the vision, and execute all levels of the organization.”

—Peter L. Lynch, Chairman, CEO, and President, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.


“I really like the frank, plain talking, honest approach. Many of the points Mike and Bob make match my experiences so I found myself smiling a lot as I read through the chapters. I would recommend this book to the CEOs I work with.”

—Kevin Compton, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers


“Short, simple, and to the point. Kanazawa and Miles distill decades of corporate transformation experience down to a few, vital messages. Required reading for CEOs.”

Peter Darbee, Chairman, CEO, and President, PG&E Corporation


“Mike and Bob have outlined an extensive and highly valuable set of actions and processes that can be implemented by corporate management to drive significant improvement in organizations. Their approach can be of great benefit not only to CEOs and their executive staffs, but also to vice presidents, general managers, and department heads.”

Richard Beyer, President and CEO, Intersil Corporation


“This book is a must read for CEOs who are looking for time-tested principles and a proven process by which senior teams can realign their organization and its people with their strategic intent. In a fast moving world, nothing is more important.”

Michael Beer, Cahners-Raab Professor of Business, Harvard Business School and author,Breaking the Code of Change


BIG Ideas to BIG Results is a must read for CEOs, as well as managers empowered with bringing about meaningful change. Most executives are comfortable with functional change within their own areas of competence and responsibilities, but one of the most challenging realities of the 21st century is that competitive advantage and speed of change require complex cross-functional solutions. I am recommending reading this book to all of my C-level clients.”

Jerry Black, President and CEO, Kurt Salmon Associates


“In the past years as a new General Manager and then as a new CEO, I have had the pleasure of working with Bob and Mike on corporate transformation challenges. They have done an outstanding job of distilling complex corporate turnaround principles into a practical book full of blueprints for CEOs, their executive staffs, and their boards to apply in corporate transformations.”

Dr. Bami Bastani, President and CEO, Anadigics, Inc.


“ACT: an amalgamation of time-tested wisdom, frameworks, processes, and illustrative cases that provides a must read for both successful companies and those that are in transition. Everything is right here in this Little Red Book, for the CEO down to the managers of companies that need to execute.”

Mas Sakamoto, Vice President, Corporate Planning and Marketing, NEC Corporation of America


BIG Ideas to BIG Results is a superb handbook for leaders wanting to transform their organizations. With Bob Miles’ expert guidance, our company launched a transformation four years ago, and our Drive for Value business model is now embedded in the way we operate.”

Shirley Gaufin, Chief Human Resources Officer, Black & Veatch


“For the past ten years, leader-led techniques have helped us transform Delta TechOps from a cost center to the largest maintenance repair and overhaul center in North America. Mike and Bob make it simple and easy to execute.”

Anthony Charaf, Senior Vice President, TechOps, Delta Air Lines, Inc.


“ACT was employed at the Tour a decade and a half ago to help the new commissioner ‘take charge’ and most recently to relaunch the Nationwide Tour. It is simple, it gets the job done rapidly, and it can be adapted to any corporate transformation challenge.”

Worth W. Calfee, President, Nationwide Tour of the PGA Tour


“An important reading for any executive who wants to revitalize his/her company, and do it efficiently!”

Jay W. Lorsch, Louis E. Kirstein Professor of Human Relations, Harvard Business School


BIG Ideas to BIG Results captures a very simple but powerful methodology for transforming ideas into action. Their recipe for leadership really moves the corporate mountain.”

John Baker, CEO and President, Florida Rock Industries, Inc.


BIG Ideas to BIG Results shows how to take strategies and connect them with tactics, align an entire organization around a common set of goals, and get everyone bought in. It is the one ingredient most companies miss, and this is the one that helps you win.”

Tony Weiss, Vice President/General Manager, Software, Peripherals, Imaging, Displays, and Dell Direct Retail, Dell, Inc.


BIG Ideas to BIG Results is chock full of practical tools to get your strategy and operations in synch and moving faster down the track—a ‘do more on less’ guidebook for every executive.”

Marty Beard, President, Sybase 365


“Want to improve your valuation? Get your ACT in gear. This book is highly recommended reading for executives who understand that higher market values are commanded by those companies that consistently generate big ideas and convert those ideas into big results.”

Michael Gardner, Executive Vice President, Wedbush Morgan Securities


“Having experienced guidance from Mike on his process for strategic transformation in our business unit, I must confess that I am now reconciled with strategic business consultants! This book is a must-read for any executive willing to engage into a reshaping of its organization for a more ambitious future.”

Olivier Le Peuch, President, Schlumberger Information Solutions


“Our executive clients consistently ask for tools, rather than theory, that they can immediately implement in order to execute strategy. BIG Ideas to BIG Results offers a uniquely clear and practical format for confronting and transforming reality with proven results.”

Whitney Hischier, Assistant Dean, Center of Executive Development, Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley


BIG Ideas to BIG Results describes a powerful yet simple way for leaders to reposition a company in a highly efficient manner, critical in today’s fast-paced, everchanging, ‘flat’ world. It produces clear measurable results, energizes and aligns everyone in the organization, and is the only methodology I have experienced where everything you do is an integral part of your job—period!”

Javed Patel, CEO, Sierra Monolithics


“It’s one part strategic focus, one part business operations, one part leadership, and one part employee engagement. Mike and Bob show you the streamlined, simple, and potent recipe for combining these elements to turn your big strategic ideas into real business results.”

Pascal Lenoir, CEO, NagraStar


BIG Ideas to BIG Results is a must read for every CEO, offering a practical approach to alignment and engagement that will result in unbelievable transformation. This book is easy reading and is full of great case studies that will inspire every person in a business leadership role.”

Carlo Saggese, Vice President of Application Development, Vistage International—The world’s leading chief executive organization


“Kanazawa and Miles provide an easy to relate account of some often paradoxical issues with large corporations. The authors provide sound advice in a book which can be easily read on a long flight.”

Peters Suh, President, Vodafone Asia Pacific Ltd and Vodafone Ventures Ltd


“Mike Kanazawa and Bob Miles lay out a powerful, proven process for leaders at all levels. With a focus on alignment and engaging the entire organization, this book is an excellent resource for leaders who want to drive results.”

Ann Marie Beasley, Vice President, Office of Strategy Management, Symantec Corporation


“This is a must-have handbook for any leader guiding an organization through strategic change. It provides practical insights that ensure the entire organization understands its role in fulfilling the strategic aims of the business. Too many transformational frameworks rely on a top-down approach; this book helps you ensure all the oars are in the water and rowing together.”

Matt DiMaria, Chief Marketing Officer, Sonic Solutions


“I love the topic the book is addressing. Its approach simplifies the recipe for success for any business, large or small, private or public, from the aspect of making ideas produce results. Too often, we as corporate executives go out of our way to complicate the planning and implementation process. It is obvious that the authors have witnessed this tragedy over and over, as their writing is filled with practical examples of ‘how-to’ bridge ineffective scenarios to become high-performing environments.”

Esther de Wolde, CEO, Phantom Screens


“Whether your organization numbers 10 or 10,000, you owe it to yourself and your team to read this book! The proven process will enable you to refocus your organization, implement lasting change, and produce sustained superior results.”

Rob Koteskey, airline captain, naval officer, and team performance consultant


“Big ideas are the easy part. Getting big results requires the joint efforts of all, and not just going through the motions or going along with the flow. BIG Ideas to BIG Results provides the recipe for combining your big ideas with an inspired and engaged team. Simply put, it just works.”

Larry Mondry, CEO, CSK Auto


BIG Ideas to BIG Results strikes a balance that is very difficult to achieve in that it’s not so rigid as to seem artificial, yet not so flexible as to lack conviction. This book provides real, sound advice.”

Bill Hopkins, Managing Principal, Odyssey Investment Partners


BIG Ideas to BIG Results provides leaders with a solution that instills confidence, purpose, and alignment throughout an entire organization and spikes it with a bias for speed and ACTion. The ACT ‘leader-led’ process is a dramatic departure from traditional consulting methods in that it unleashes value creators at every level of an organization.”

George A. Coll, SVP, New Services, Sears Holdings Corporation