The Disposable Visionary
A Survival Guide for Change Agents
by Bill Jerome and Curtis Powell Illustrated by Carin Powell
December 2015, 153pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4036-4
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4037-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A recent study showed that 22 percent of new executives are fired within 90 days; 40 percent don’t make it beyond 12 months.

Is it possible for visionary leaders to adhere to their idealism and integrity without becoming casualties of corporate conservatism and executive-level politics? This book says "yes," arguing for the need for visionary change agents in organizations and resolving the paradox of visionary change in a bureaucratic environment.

Why do many companies state they want change but then often fire employees who truly rock the boat in their efforts to shift the paradigm to make improvements? How should “disposable visionaries”—leaders who are passionate about new ideas, but who underestimate or intentionally ignore the political environment that supports maintaining the status quo and consequently are in danger of losing their jobs—keep their passion regardless of the opposition… and also keep their jobs?

Written with wit and filled with poignant insights and well-documented examples, this book provides practical advice and encouragement to those who are driven to promote new ideas and reach new levels of achievement. Not just for executive-level corporate leaders frustrated by their company’s resistance to change, the information and inspiration presented will be enlightening to anyone who has ever been puzzled or annoyed by obstructive internal politics at work.

Readers will come away with effective ways to deal with politics, champion breakthrough innovation, be recognized as their organization’s most valuable asset, and unlock their potential to change the competitive playing field. The book will also be invaluable for business students who need to be aware of potential obstacles they will likely face as they embark on their careers.


  • Helps visionaries to identify their character traits, both positive and negative, and gives them direction on how to hang on to their idealism while more clearly perceiving how their actions affect others in the organization, including their managers, corporate leadership, or board of directors
  • Describes a previously undocumented yet common dynamic that has frustrated many ambitious employees, told from the visionary's own viewpoint
  • Explains how to manage visionaries more effectively by encouraging them to make meaningful contributions that can be embraced and claimed by others in the organization
  • Enables leaders who are change agents to improve their chances of staying in an executive position long enough for their ideas to gel and take positive effect
  • Features interesting profiles of (ultimately) successful visionaries—maverick leaders who were often initially fired or smothered for their methods and mindsets—throughout the book
Bill Jerome, with coauthor Curt Powell, has worked with more than 100 different corporations and associations, championing the concept of an "indispensable brand" and the research to identify its application. Jerome is a writer of business parables and currently the Chief Storyteller/Marketing Director for Christian Academy School System, Louisville, KY, the largest Christian school system in the country. He was previously marketing manager at Citicorp, general manager for various advertising agencies, and executive coach in vision casting and brand innovation. Jerome has written and spoken for national conferences on topics including "Seven freedoms of innovation," "Creating a brand of indispensability," and "Why satisfaction studies are meaningless, and what you can do about it." He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and Master of Management from Northwestern University.

Curt Powell has a 30-year background in strategy development, marketing, research, and analytics for Fortune 500 companies and national associations in health care, financial services, higher education, and energy. He is the founder of MindRamp and of Endpoint Chicago, a consulting firm at the intersection of innovation, analytics, and engagement. Powell has served in marketing leadership positions for the College of American Pathologists, MidAmerican Energy, Quester Research, and Citibank NYS. He has received Addy, Telly, and AMA awards for marketing, as well as the Citicorp Service Excellence award and MidAmerican Energy's Teaming for Success award. Powell is also a composer, actor, and playwright. He earned his Master of Arts degree from the School of Speech at Northwestern University.


"The Disposable Visionary will inspire those who passionately pursue innovative vision, but are cut down by the buzz saw of corporate politics. Bill and Curt’s enjoyable yet practical insights will encourage corporate visionaries at all levels to stay the course and give others a passion for their cause."—David Neeleman, CEO, Azul Brazilian Airlines

“I love the concepts in this fresh new book by Bill Jerome and Curt Powell. They are right on target when they say, ‘One of the biggest threats to a company may be its own traditions and complacency.’ Whether you are at the top, bottom, or stuck in the middle, read this book for fresh hope that you can bring about change!”—Dr. Hans Finzel, President of HDLeaders and author of The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make and Change Is Like a Slinky

“In straightforward and forceful prose, they outline the various ways organizations too often punish creative change and reward mediocrity. This is a courageous guide to creating the organization you say you want to have and being the change agent you say you want to be.”—James A. Autry, Author of The Servant Leader

The Disposable Visionary offers hope to visionaries and sound guidance for organizations. Thoroughly enjoyable reading and thoroughly practical.”—David A. Nershi, CAE, Executive Director, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

“The liability of success is a perennial challenge. Jerome and Powell’s book contributes an intriguing finding: that the so-called ‘disposable visionaries’ are more likely to be disposed of the more forcefully they promote what needs to be changed in a slowly failing company fixated on its past success. And for these disposable visionaries, the book offers the comfort that they are not alone, the encouragement to stick to their vision even if it means being fired, and the stories of others who have gone on to revolutionize industries and movements by forming their own organization or moving to other companies that appreciate their ideas.”—Robert D. Dewar, Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
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