Whistle Blowers are scouts of failure in an organisation.

Government Loop and Washington Post recently asked this question…“Is Whistle Blowing Really Welcome Where You Work?” If you want to dig into the ‘why’ they are or aren’t, here are some helpful rules…

  • Are standards clearly articulated? – If not, it is hard for people to determine clear cut violation.
  • Are there modes for whistle blowing to communicate? – Is there a clear phone number, email address, forum to post where the information gets to the right people and avoids the wrong people?
  • Are whistle blowers protected? – For the act of whistle blowing, ie. if you are screwing up, you can’t abuse the whistle-blower shields to protect your incompetence. One of the most powerful approaches is Anonymity.
  • Are the accused protected? This might seem like a strange one. First of all, is simply a basic right to due process which guards against abuse by false whistle blowing. Without such protections for the accused, whistle blowing could get a bad name from false accusations which would in the long run undermine the practice. Furthermore, without such safeguards, some whistle blowers might hesitate because they see lots of evidence, but are not 100% sure and so they don’t report it. If they know that it will be investigated fairly, then they are more likely to raise the yellow flag and alert proper, best placed scrutiny.
  • Are whistle blown violations acted upon? – Assuming that the infractions have proven to be true. If not, why would an whistleblower go to any trouble or risk any trouble if nothing is going to happen as a result.
  • Are whistle blowers followed up with? – For example explaining what happened in terms of actions against true violations or reasons why the apparent violation turned out not to be so? For obvious reasons, much of the investigation into a blown whistle needs to be kept largely confidential which can add to the stress and fear felt by the whistleblower.

Attack of the Clones” portrays a vivid example of what happens when whistleblowing in government goes awry. With Obi-Wan’s admonitions floundered, and most of the rules above flouted, Darth Sidious leads the Republic to a calamitous war. Don’t let this happen to your galaxy!

May the 4th be with you!