Monday, March 24, 2014

Where Was Jiminy Cricket When Scott Walker Needed Him?

We here in Wisconsin have been inundated with news stories regarding the John Doe investigations relating to Gov. Scott Walker.

A February 25, 2014 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that John Schultz, former Chief Legal Counsel for the state’s Department of Transportation, has lost his job due to improper emails.

While the email in question was sent before Schultz joined the administration, this is now at least the second time that Walker or his staff's failure to properly vet hires has come back to bite him. I know of staffing agencies that do a better job of researching temporary workers.

Reading the article, I found myself asking how it was possible someone with a law degree can be so stupid to send an email that offensive over the state’s email system. Schultz himself asks the same question, sort of.

After reading the remainder of the article, I was asking other questions: Are there no responsible adults working for Walker? Why do people on Gov. Walker’s staff seem not to be able to excersize any impulse control? Where is Gov. Walker’s Jiminy Cricket?

Who? Jiminy Cricket?

For those not familiar with this valuable asset, let me direct your attention to the Poynter Institute’s article “Meet 12 great employees to toast in 2012”, written by Jill Geisler.

One employee that Walker apparently needs desperately is Jiminy Cricket. Here’s Jill’s description of Jiminy:
“The Jiminy Cricket: Like the venerable little sidekick to Disney’s “Pinocchio,” this employee is characterized by conscience. Jiminy Cricket deftly asks questions that get people thinking about ethics, diversity, fairness, accountability, safety, legality — helping people see past their blind spots.”
It seems as if the Wisconsin Governor has a huge blind spot when it comes to hiring people who conduct their employer’s business with integrity. That’s bad for a private employer conducting private business, and simply unacceptable for any public office holder conducting the public’s business.

Did no one working for Walker either in his administration or on his campaign question this email? More importantly, why was no action taken at the time the email was sent – over the state’s email system, no less?

It seems the only time Walker deals with ethics is after they’ve been exposed. That’s weak because it’s reactive. If you’re forever explaining and cleaning up past mistakes, how do you move forward?

Talk about working harder, not smarter! Walker will now be spending a lot of time and money (taxpayer money) dealing with the aftermath of this disclosure.

One Jiminy Cricket equals ten campaign strategists.

The time and money spent on spinning and distracting, with evading questions and avoiding responsibility won’t be spent of formulating a forward looking strategy designed to govern a state or win a campaign.

In a manufacturing setting, this would be called ‘rework’: doing additional work to a product because it’s defective and the work wasn’t done right the first time. That is directly non-productive, non-value-adding work. That’s what Gov. Walker is doing.

Someone like Jiminy can be a real pain in the neck at times, but his concerns about being ethical, and about accountability when people fall short are a necessary and vital input to open, transparent, and fair practices, whether in the private sector or when conducting the public’s business.

By questioning certain actions early in the process, Mr. Cricket serves as an organization’s Early Warning System – one that saves time and money as well as something that money can’t buy: repute.

Mistake-Proofing, which is really what Jiminy is doing, is comparatively inexpensive, and really not that hard to accomplish.

Walker has aspirations to the Presidency. It might just be too late for Jiminy to help him.