The Change Whisperer


How do you get major companies like IBM, Starbucks, Nike, and GE to radically rethink their purpose? Keith Yamashita starts by asking companies to “lead into the unknown.”

Keith Yamashita and his team at SY Partners have spent nearly a quarter century helping individuals and companies transform, but 24 years in, business is better than ever. When you’ve got decades of experience helping companies like Starbucks, IBM, and Target become better versions of themselves, word gets around.

Yamashita and his team will only accept work with large enterprises if the CEO and executive team are fully committed to challenging their core assumptions. Plenty of companies pay lip service to transformation, but Yamashita’s genius has been in identifying the leaders who are truly ready for the journey change requires. Perhaps his most illustrative client is Howard Schultz’ Starbucks, which has been working with Yamashita ever since the founder returned as CEO nine years ago. During the decade of their partnership, Starbucks completely rewrote its purpose statement, focused its business on its employees and its role in the community instead of the bottom line, and saw its stock grow by nearly 15X.

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