The timing couldn't be better for the turnaround of what was once the most powerful and enduring global brand: Roman Catholicism. On this holy day Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis is having his rock star status confirmed with the launch of a new magazine Il Mio Papa (My Pope). It is published by Mondadori.
If anyone could turn around the scandal-plagued Roman Catholic Church Francis could. His memes of compassionate change, tolerance and income equality resonate around the world. Here is coverage in The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, the timing for a turnaround couldn't be worse for one-time lobbying and law powerhouse Patton Boggs. Over the past few years, it has cut 100 lawyers, shuttered its Newark, New Jersey office, made an abortive outreach to a possible merger partner, outsourced the job of trying to turn itself around (Zolfo Cooper).
The situation has worsened with the development that it is now associated, both in the courts of public opinion and law, with fraud in the long-playing environmental lawsuit against Chevron. Here are the grim details from the National Law Journal. The bottom line on this is bad publicity and a lawsuit against it by Chevron. Its early merger talks with Squire Sanders could represent another abortive initiative.
However, Patton Boggs can analyze and leverage the strategy and tactics of Francis. These make the top of the list:
Admit mistakes have been made. Those hurt people. In the situation of Patton Boggs, those threatened the reputation and jobs of lawyers and staff in a downsized market.
Be kind. That boils down to, as Charles Dickens hammered during the worst of economic times, be of human kind. Feel for others. Try to help others. No matter how awful things got for the good guys and girls in Dickens' novels, they never lost their humanity. Patton Boggs has to remove any garlic from its soul.
Have a plan that makes sense. During his one year in leadership, Francis has shared his plan for change with the world. It makes sense. We are listening. We are willing to give Catholicism another chance. It could make competitors like Buddhism minor players in the spiritual space.
Sacrifice. Francis drives around a Ford. He is taking a page from the playbook of other turnaround success stories like Chrysler's during the early 1980s. There was plenty of sacrifice, including frayed rugs in the executive suite.
Be sunny. Like the greats in politics, ranging from Winston Churchill to Ronald Reagan, Francis is optimistic. He sees the glass as half full. Patton Boggs has to find some good news.
Like the Roman Catholic Church, Patton Boggs can have a roaring comeback. Adversity is the platform for unexpected success.