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Intervention by Denise Caruso Read Intervention by Denise Caruso, Executive Director of the Hybrid Vigor Silver Award Winner, 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards; Best Business Books 2007, Strategy+Business Magazine


by Mike Neuenschwander ~ June 3, 2009.
Permalink | Filed under: Social Trust Online, Valuing Intangibles.

The cover of this month’s issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) calls for sweeping changes in how to handle trust in business, government, and organizations. And to contribute to the discussion, HBR provides more than 20 pages of material covering important aspects of trust. I was so excited to see this, I actually paid the $16.95 cover price to get a copy. Well worth it!

The “From the Editor” section has this to say about trust:

The public’s trust in business leaders has never been weaker. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, released in January, trust in U.S. business dropped from 58% to 38% in one year…. If companies can’t address this problem, an economic turnaround may be delayed indefinitely: Banks won’t lend money; innovation will slow to a crawl; trade across borders will fall even more rapidly; governments will overregulate the private sector; unemployment numbers will continue to rise; and consumers won’t open their wallets for anything they consider nonessential. A complex modern economy simply can’t function unless people believe that its institutions are fundamentally sound.

I highly recommend reading the article “Rethinking Trust” by Roderick M. Kramer. While other articles in this issue offer platitudinous suggestions (i.e., “organizations should be more transparent” and support a “culture of candor”), Mr. Kramer roots his analysis in the biological realities of brain chemistry and human instinct. This perspective makes the author’s subsequent rules for “tempering trust” more valuable and actionable. In fact, Mr. Kramer’s 7 rules bear a lot of (uncorroborated) similarity to my “Laws of Relation.” My only caution with Mr. Kramer’s rules of trust in this article is that they are meant for interpersonal forms of trust, and not always applicable to institutional trust.

I’m hoping the Harvard Business Review’s “Spotlight on Trust” can generate a lot more discussion on this important issue.


  1. Silona

    I think an essential element of trust is actions not words or policies.

    One way they can illustrate that to the public is not simply transparency. But in acknowledging the mutual ownership of data.

    Relationship data is not owned by one entities - if it was it would be almost useless. Just as you wrote about relationship symmetry… that symmetry can be illustrated in the acknowledgment of ownership and responsibility of that data. Use it to engage people in taking back power over the mutual data.

    I personally think it is time to take banking back to how it was once done with a personal connection. With social networks (and esp w a Federated system) we can enable that again.


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