Lead independent director piles on even more non-Walmart responsibilities

Three months ago, when Jim Cash was named Walmart’s new lead independent director, we noted:

Dr. Cash is a rather busy man, not unlike his predecessor, [Jim] Breyer, who was criticized for being severely overextended. Cash seems to be cut from the same cloth: On top of his consulting work, he is a director or advisor of two public companies (The Chubb Corporation and General Electric), three private companies, two investment firms, and two non-profits. Oh, and he’s a limited partner in the Boston Celtics ownership group.

As we’ve said before, we get it: We know Walmart directors are in-demand leaders. It’s unrealistic to suggest that directors shouldn’t have any other outside commitments. But right now, Walmart is facing a sea of difficulties and the strength and independence of its board is in question. Walmart associates and shareholders must be assured that changing Walmart is a top priority for directors.

Yesterday, Dr. Cash added yet another major commitment to his roster of responsibilities, joining the Board of Directors of Silicon Valley tech company Virtual Instruments.

What are Walmart investors, associates, and other stakeholders supposed to make of the company’s lead independent director taking on another significant non-Walmart commitment while Walmart continues to struggle with questions about the board’s independence, labor unrest in its stores and distribution network, ongoing bribery investigations, weak sales, and the breakdown of its business model? Why won’t Dr. Cash make righting the ship at Walmart a priority?

What do you think?