By Don Tanner, PRSA Detroit Chapter President
The list of players in the ongoing Flint water crisis is long and often abbreviated. There’s the DEQ and the EPA (and don’t forget the FBI who is now investigating potential criminal aspects of the sorry saga). The tale is far from over; appearing even more sordid with each passing day and each front page revelation.
The continuing question is simple: who knew what when. Sort that out (if you can) and you can pinpoint where responsibility lies and the problem began. Was it with the former Mayor of Flint? The Emergency Manager? Governor Snyder’s staff? The Governor? Regardless, this lead-saturated mess is a Crisis 101 case study in worst practices. Consider these basic tenets of adversity management:
- Failure to act quickly in an adverse situation can have long-term ramifications. He who hesitates is lost.
- Honesty and transparency are paramount. A forked tongue cuts like a knife.
- Regain trust and reassure corrective action. Actions speak louder than words.
- Do the right thing. And do it early and often.
To his credit, Governor Snyder has communicated that the buck stops with him as he takes responsibility for what has happened and what still needs to occur. In the meantime, he continues to oversee the delivery of fresh water in Flint while feeling the heat and call of Capitol Hill.
For the sake of Flint – its residents and its children – let’s hope the powers that be finally get it right.