Pope Francis: CEO and Epic Innovator

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Excerpted from a Forbes.com article by Craig Hatkoff and Irwin Kula: Every CEO is an evangelizer. So those struggling with how to deal with the pressures of disruption would do well to closely follow Pope Francis. His first bit of sage advice for every CEO is: “An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!” Last April Pope Francis received not one but two awards at our annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. He was honored in absentia with the Adam Smith Prize, presented by the Harvard Business Review; his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) was also recognized as Book of the Year for innovation. Pope Francis? Adam Smith? Disruptive innovator? Really?

“An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!” – Pope Francis from Evangelii Gaudium

At first blush this might seem like a bit of stretch but our guiding light, Clay Christensen, and HBR editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius felt the Pope was an inspired choice and agreed to sign our letter to the Pope informing him of these recognitions. The recently concluded synod on non-traditional families and the Church simply has reinforced our earlier view that when it comes to innovation this guy is pretty epic.

Think about what the Pope has done to transform a 2,000 year old brand—a really BIG business with issues. Like any incumbent CEO the Pope has had to confront a raft of challenges such as embattled business models, shrinking margins, loss of market share, attracting and retaining personnel and the crush of legacy systems…

Read the full Forbes article online on the Off White Papers blog. Originally written by Craig Hatkoff and Irwin Kula and published on November 12th, 2014, the Off White Papers are part of Forbes’ Leadership section, contemplating the deeper, disruptive angles of historically and emerging innovations from healthcare and politics to arts and culture.   

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