I genuinely wonder if U.S. citizens, particularly those in decision-making capacities and positions of presumably vetted authority and leadership, actually-understand or even recognize when either has been utterly and wholly botched, not once, but multiple times, and over a period of years. And, their reputation, upon which their position and status essentially evolve, will be irreparably reversed.
I am referring to of course, the utterly despicable, repugnant, and repulsive actions of one Larry Nassar, former team physician to USA Women Gymnastics and Michigan State University, and now convicted felon.
Was there not anything learned in academe from the comparable human tragedies that occurred over a period of decades, perpetrated by Larry Sandusky at Penn State University? After all, we’re talking about irrepressible wrongs perpetrated on young humans that not inconceivably, scale substantially worse than manipulating mileage specs on Volkswagen automobile diesel engines.
It is now understood, as a matter of investigative record by Michigan State University police and MSU administration, that Nassar was initially accused sexual molesting-assaulting young women gymnasts. The accusations, as reported, began as early as 1997. It is now mid-January 2018, Nassar’s trial is over, he has finally been convicted, and will soon be going to prison. The presiding (Michigan) judge is correctly offering, and permitting, in accordance with existing law, 160+ women who endured Nassar’s vileness to address him directly in open court if-as they may wish.
Having listened to a few of these women, most now in their early to mid-20’s, articulate their physiological and emotional harm is indeed bolting.
Sure, we now hear reports of actual resignations and potential resignations as well we should. At minimum, that’s a start. But, what about the no doubt dozens of decision makers, administrators, and counselors along the long and troubling path of Nassar, i.e., MSU officials, women gymnastics oversight bodies, and employees at ‘the ranch’ who did know or should have known, and elected to not, for various reasons and ‘ex post facto rationales’ to do something, whatever was necessary, to try to make it stop!
As for me, I un-ashamedly possess operational familiarity with organization – corporation reputation risk (conceptually and practically). Through my variously experienced lens, the timeless adage, ‘where there is smoke, there is usually some fire’ is quite apropos in this instance. One, not atypical problem is, ‘the smoke, in this instance, has been bellowing for decades’. My frequent starting point, upon which to, at least commence framing any follow-up examination and analysis bears upon…
- belated action to arrest the tenure of any bad seeds, bad deeds, and bad decisions.
- that all-to-frequently, permit the prolongation of the ‘original sin and the original sinner’, and
- when, where, how, and to whom some responsibility-accountability lies.
Professionally and personally, I am hard-pressed to characterize the repeated felonious actions (risks) that materialize on this scale, which directly and adversely affect humans, as merely constituting reputation risks to MSU, its administrators, and the external oversight-governing bodies for women gymnastics. To do so, in the personage of Larry Nassar, may moderate, if not convey a sense of dismissiveness for the lifetime feelings of the 160+ women gymnasts who will likely repeatedly re-visit (emotionally, visually) the horrific actions Nassar perpetrated.
At this point in my professional thinking, perplexity about these decade long series of actions is far from being even a remotely sufficient descriptor for explaining the inevitable, that is, why so many presumably rational and intelligent individuals, who no doubt have daughters and granddaughters, who themselves possess an interest in gymnastics and other sports, were unable to conceive of and execute myriad ways (avenues, strategies, or even schemes) to stop Nassar from perpetrating further damage to humans.
Aside, for the moment, the human damage Nassar perpetrated, one must assume, each individual who, once it became known to them, elected not to act, not to report, and not to follow up, and especially those in leadership and authority positions who elected to temporarily shelter themselves and their professional identity, by opting to accept injudicious counsel which, in an admittedly unknown, but likely a relatively high percentage of instances, prolonged the public surfacing of Nassar’s ill-deeds and subsequently, their possibly complicit role!
There can, nor should there be any further clichés to describe what Nassar did and the decades of circumstances surrounding his behavior. It is what it is, and peoples’ reputations should and must be purposefully and legally put at risk now. Michigan State University, not unlike Penn State University, will no doubt have their day in not just a court of law, but the courts of public opinion.
The adverse materialization of reputation risk should not however, traverse to MSU as-a-whole, but surely to those who fell short of, for whatever reason, our expectations and their obligations.
Lastly, it is worth noting, reputation, be it personal or organizational, are comprised of intangible assets. It is a globally universal economic fact that today, 80+% of most organization’s value, sources of revenue, sustainability, competitiveness, and stability lie in – evolve directly from intangible assets!
Michael D. Moberly January 24, 2018 St. Louis firstname.lastname@example.org ‘A business intangible asset blog where attention span really matters’!