May Day was an eventful day for the numismatic community. On May 1, the American Numismatic Association issued a press release announcing the appointment of Kim Kiick as the ANA’s new Executive Director.
I will support Kim Kiick as the ANA’s Executive Director as a member and if I should be privileged to be elected to the Board of Governors.
My issue is not with Kim but with the Board of Governors and the way this entire situation was handled.
Since my first comment regarding the firing of Jeff Shevlin, my Inbox has been flooded with reports and allegations of improprieties on all sides regarding this situation. Unfortunately, these are allegation without evidence. Unless someone can provide tangible evidence, any comments about this would be irresponsible. If anyone has evidence, they can contact me via email or hand it to me at the National Money Show in New Orleans next week.
If the evidence points to any type impropriety, I will look for remedies on behalf of the ANA. Remedies can include bringing an ethics complaint to the Board or if employment laws were broken, I can recommend appropriate legal action.
One issue I have is the hiring of Unlimited Potential, a management consulting firm based on Colorado Springs. According to the ANA press release, Beth Papiano of Unlimited Potential will “work with the Executive Director, Board of Governors and staff to increase the effectiveness of each and to improve communications and leadership skills.” While this appears to be the right approach, the selection of Ms. Papiano is suspect.
Sources provided evidence that Ms. Papiano was involved with the 360-degree feedback review of Jeff Shevlin. According to Wikipedia, a 360-degree review “is feedback that comes from members of an employee’s immediate work circle. Most often, 360-degree feedback will include direct feedback from an employee’s subordinates, peers, and supervisor(s), as well as a self-evaluation. It can also include, in some cases, feedback from external sources, such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders.” According to my sources, the report provided to the Board of Governors did not contain reviews from everyone in the primary circle because they were not interviewed. Further, the 360-degree feedback review did not include indirect feedback because as a member of the ANA Technology Committee and an interested stakeholder based on my participation with this committee, I was not interviewed.
In reviewing 360-degree feedback, a Forbes article discusses why these types of reviews fail. If my sources are true, three of the points may have lead to this situation: The 360 tool/questions are too vague; People offer comments that are personal in nature rather than constructive; and Forgetting the strengths and only focusing on weaknesses.
While the Board of Governors will not talk about their deliberations, they should be taken to task about the process. Was the proper questions used? Was the feedback filtered for personal feelings leaving only constructive comments? Why was not everyone interviewed as part of the process? Finally, what experience does Ms. Papiano have in performing these 360-degree reviews?
It appears that experience matters. In criticizing the article that appeared in Forbes, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman published a commentary on the blog for the Harvard Business Review that “Yes, we sigh, there are too many 360 implementations that are pathetic wastes of time, resources, and—worst of all—opportunity.” Was the review a pathetic waste of an opportunity to properly review the organization and why there have been three dismissed executive directors in the last ten years?
I am trying to find out more about Ms. Papiano since her work resulted in the firing of one executive director and involved in the coaching of the current executive director. Unfortunately, for someone who claims to be a “nationally known coach and social systems consultant,” I cannot find any reference of her work before 2011. I am still researching in what context she is “nationally known” because everything I find only goes back for three years.
The Colorado Secretary of State Office has a record for the trade name Unlimited Potential being registered on September 1, 2004. Ms. Papiano is a sole proprietor with no indication of employees even though her company website uses a lot of first-person plural statements.
Does this mean she is not qualified? I am not sure. While trying to find more information about Papiano and Unlimited Potential, I found the profile she entered at Naymz, a site for people to manage their “social reputation” online. According to this information, Papiano has owned Unlimited Potential since 2004. Prior, she was an employee for Quantum (a computer storage company), Sun Microsystem (since purchased by Oracle), and Hewlett-Packard. There is no indication that she has any experience with the management or executive consulting of non-profit organizations. In fact, her Naymz profile does not mention any experiences with non-profit companies. The first sentence of her profile says “20+ years as an organizational effectiveness manager and executive coach inside Fortune 100 companies….”
One thing that bothers me is the obvious mistake of beginning a sentence with a number. While I admit that my writing on this blog has been less than perfect, when I write something in the professional arena I make sure it is grammatically and structurally correct. Mistakes happen, but someone who is responsible for communicating results should demonstrate a better command of the language.
But does this really mean Papiano is not qualified? I continue to be not sure but the search for qualifications continue to raise questions. It is possible that with all the market bluster that she tried to generate for herself over the last few years, that she could be an effective managing consultant. Then I visited the testimonials section of her website to find unattributed quotes and “client results” also without attribution. Maybe I have been living and working in the Washington, D.C. area too long because not having a history that could be verified is not comforting. “Trust, but verify” was a phrase made famous by Ronald Reagan. I think it applies here.
Papiano may be good at what she does but she may not be the right person for the ANA to have as a management consultant at this time. I question whether Ms. Papiano may have been either careless in performing the 360-feedback review, unwittingly complicit in a targeted attempt at having Jeff Shevlin fired, or an opportunist thinking that she could manipulate the situation to get a follow-on contract with the ANA.
In letters sent to numismatic publications and a note posted on the PCGS forums, I called for a management consultant to review the ANA organization. In the letters I wrote “Rather than begin the search for an executive director, I call on the ANA Board of Governors to hire an executive consulting firm to evaluate the operations of the ANA. The firm should have no connection with anyone in the ANA and should be directed to present their findings to the new board at their first meeting during the World’s Fair of Money in August.” Unfortunately, the Board chose to move forward quickly without allowing the new board to review the situation and also chose to retain Papiano.
If elected to the Board of Governors, the first motion I will make will be to hire an executive management firm that has a verifiable background in helping non-profit organizations to review the entire ANA management structure. This management consulting firm will be asked to asses the ANA as follows:
- Review the organizational structure of the ANA headquarters
- Review the employment policies for those working at the ANA headquarters
- Review the employee environment at the ANA headquarters and make recommendations for improvement
- Review the Board of Governors’ current and past relationships with the employees at the ANA headquarters
- Review the 360-degree feedback review of Jeff Shevlin and the process which caused his termination
- Perform a similar review with regard to the termination of Larry Shepherd
- Review the mentoring plan for Kim Kiick for effectiveness
- Provide recommendations to the by-laws and/or ANA policy to provide membership with the assurance that the ANA is being properly run
As part of my motion, I will provide recommendations as to who the Board of Governors could hire. These recommendation will consist of management consulting firms that have had verifiable experience working with non-profit companies and no ties to the ANA in any manner.
Of course the Board can vote against my proposal or I could not be elected to the Board of Governors. In either case, I will continue to pursue this issue because the status quo is unacceptable.
Image of Kim Kiick courtesy of the ANA.