Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Tough Problems

Women are beginning to learn how to deal with hard-core business problems. Exemplary issues include the debate over the leadership of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), allegations that the California Board of Registered Nursing failed to act in a timely manner to de-register nurses charged with drug violations, performance lapses on the part of Child Protective Services staff, unauthorized and illegal snooping into private patient files at area hospitals, and the latest investigative reports that Los Angeles Unified School District failed to fire problematic teachers.

According to the WSJ.com Golf Forum article, "The LPGA’s Leadership Challenge," (July 31, 2009) at online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204886304574306691319784558.html.
the LPGA is facing a "players’ revolt" -– something like shareholder uprising. The executive director resigned -– reminiscent of like a forced executive turnover. Marsha Johnson Evans, retired Navy rear admiral, was elevated from board member to commissioner – sort of like naming a new CEO from the director pool. Shareholders and stakeholders in the LPGA include the member players and the LPGA Tournament Owners Association consisting of 25 independent entities from sponsors, tournament owners, nonprofits, sports marketing companies, and community organizations.

Press reports describe a three tier strategy that needs to be solidified for the LPGA to succeed.

First, they need to re-build a genuinely trusting and respectful relationship with the players, many of whom come from overseas.

Second, the LPGA Tour has to stop the hemorraging of tournaments: in 2008 there were 34, in 2009 there are 28, but in 2010 there were only 14 commitments. Tournament owners and sponsors both had lost confidence in the LPGA leadership.

The third and final constituency to be wooed includes advertisers, marketers, and the media.

Ironically, the previous executive director focused on the third priority: finalizing a 10 year contract with the Golf Channel to provide the LPGA with a long-term window into the media, the last leg of the triangle.

The job Ms. Evans faces is both to find a new leader willing to take on the multi-headed hydra which the LPGA has become, but also, meanwhile, to operate this multi-ship fleet of diverse operational units and get them all going in the same direction for a change. It’s not just a simple challenge of re-building a broken team spirit. Rather, this must seem much more lot like "herding kittens" to Ms. Evans. Which it is.