The Inhibitors of Rapid Transformation

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Accelerating Corporate Transformations-Don’t Lose Your Nerve!” six embedded transformation “inhibitors” were identified that build up in companies over time; any one of which if left unattended by an executive leader can derail a corporate transformation launch.1

Transformation Insights

The most important insights from our corporate transformation practices highlighted in that article are as follows:

First, transformation launches must be both bold and rapid to be successful. We live and lead in a world of highly compressed cycle times and multiple and simultaneous distractions. Moreover, most of our employees have witnessed many previous failed attempts and have become justifiably skeptical of each new round of heralded change. Given all of these headwinds, leaders must be both bold and swift in launching their transformation processes.

Second, a number of “inhibitors” become built up in organizations over time, especially in those that have been pursuing variations along the same business model.

Third, although the existence of these inhibitors can become irritating from time to time, they are relatively benign during steady state periods in which the organization is pursuing incremental improvements along the lines of the traditional business model. But when the time comes to transform an organization, any one of the inhibitors can derail the whole effort if left unattended.

Finally, it is better to deal with the inhibitors in a particular sequence as the stages of transformation planning, launch and execution unfold in an organization.

The major conclusion reached from our corporate transformation engagements was that all six inhibitors are very important in determining the success or failure of a corporate transformation; that, indeed, overlooking any of the embedded inhibitors by an executive leader would derail his or her transformation effort.2

    ACT was explicitly designed to enable CEOs and executives leaders to engage and overcome each of the transformation inhibitors
    in a rapid high engagement manner.

Transformation Readiness Survey

The short readiness survey below enables you to quickly assess the extent to which you or your executive leaders will be challenged by each transformation "inhibitor" and hence, would benefit from ACT.

Robert H. Miles Corporate Transformation Resources

The bar charts on the linked page will enable you to compare your results with those of executives across a variety of industries and functions.

HBR Accelerating Corporate Transformation Don't Loose your Nerve by Robert H. Miles


  1. Robert H. Miles, “Accelerating Corporate Transformations-Don’t Lose Your Nerve!” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2010, pp. 68-75; reprinted in the "Reinvention edition of HBR OnPoint, in Spring, 2012.

  2. For more detailed coverage of the transformation “inhibitors,” as well as the “accelerators” for overcoming them, please refer to Robert H. Miles and Michael T. Kanazawa, BIG Ideas to BIG Results: Leading Corporate Transformation in a Disruptive World (Pearson), 2016