Komen, Virginia, "Disruptive Innovation," and #shrm12

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 25, 2012

Several months ago, like many, I was transfixed by the decision at the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure to no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood for health screenings, given it was “under investigation.”  The repercussions of that decision echo today as Komen continues to see a decline in participation and donations have diminished.  How could leadership fail so strongly under the umbrella of ideology?
Its hard not to see parallels to Komen in the recent decision by the Board of Rectors at the University of Virginia to force the resignation of President Teresa Sullivan, because of her incremental approach to change, particularly in regards to online education.  This push for “strategic dynamism” has caused revolt on the Virginia campus, as students and faculty unite in pushback for a President who has only been on campus for two years.  Donors have threatened not to contribute and faculty have been looking for jobs elsewhere. Again, how could leadership misread the situation? 
In “Its All About Me: Narcissistic CEOS and Their Effects on Company Strategy and Performance,” Arijit Chatterjee found that narcissistic leaders seek dramatic action, but performance is often no better than incremental leaders. 
In his opening remarks, SHRM President and CEO Hank Jackson focused on a rapidly changing workplace, with HR professionals needing to be responsible for leading the way.  He mentioned “disruptive innovation” as something to be embraced in this environment.  Let’s hope the lessons of Virginia and Susan B. Komen are not lost on him.

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