Man Bites Dog: A Relentless Onslaught of (Online) Civility

Rodney Dangerfield said, “I went to the fights; a hockey game broke out.”

The crusty old editor says to the cub reporter, “Don’t give me dog bites man; if you’ve got man bites dog, now that’s a story!”

Something like that is happening over at Forbes Magazine, where TCU Economist John T. Harvey has guest-written a rather unusual post, titled How to Destroy the US Economy? Balance the Budget. Here are the opening two sentences:

I can think of nothing more fundamentally foolish, more unequivocally self-destructive to our economic well being today than attempting to balance the US federal budget. It is totally unnecessary and every dollar we cut from government spending is a dollar taken from someone’s income.

I say “unusual” only because the title and the opening lines lead one to believe Harvey is a raging Keynesian liberal, which one hardly expects to see in Forbes. What will the readers think!

The Emergence of the Flamers

Sure enough, initial reader comments did not disappoint. The flamers jumped on Prof. Harvey with track shoes, e.g.:

The trouble with you young people is that you do not understand the use of money. Money is a foreign element to you. You don’t even know what it looks like! All you understand is plastic, and that means borrowing.

This is absolutely asinine. You cannot seriously believe that it is more expensive for the government to provide unemployment benefits etc than it is to EMPLOY someone and then tax the salary that the government is giving them. If that’s how the system worked, the USSR would have long ago become the lone superpower.

Professor Harvey started to respond. He quickly (within an hour) answered every comment—calmly, rationally, taking every person seriously. He greeted each person warmly (“Howdy, psumba, thanks for reading!”).

He didn’t coddle (“you seem to have misunderstood my point”), but he never talked down to anyone either—no matter how tortured the logic, no matter how rude the tone.

And then a remarkable thing began to happen.

Some commenters started to get honest. The level of vitriol declined. Issues began to get discussed. Look at these excerpts from commenters:

“John I hope you come back and help me to understand [more].”

“John, I have found this discussion enlightening and fascinating. I am old school and too old to stalk you and besides I live in Arkansas..[but] see you can teach an ole dog new tricks.”

“That’s an epiphany for me. This is a very informative post. It makes perfect sense, though. I just wish more economists would be as explicit as you…This is so interesting!”

The Power of Civility

So many people, certainly including politicians, pander to the negative in all of us. It’s a cheap trick, and it works depressingly well, particularly because it’s a quick hit.

I find it gratifying when you see proof that the long game, the game of sincerity and respect and civility, when allowed to play out, is extremely powerful. Harvey’s post is less than 48 hours old at the time I’m writing this one and already civility has calmed a few beasts, added to the net economic knowledge of many, and I think lowered the political temperature of debate by a tiny but measurable fraction as well.

Harvey’s column, by the way, is called Pragmatic Economics. He is proud that his views are hard to label. And you might want to subscribe to his RSS feed, and get you some practical wisdom too.

I think Dangerfield would’ve gotten a kick out of it.

8 MBAs Solve World Hunger. In Theory.

Back in October 2006 I started this blog, Trust Matters, by looking back from the vantage point of my 30th MBA reunion, in a post called Harvard Business School 30 Years Later: Bring Back Joe. That was five years ago.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining a golf outing with 7 classmates. For three days, we enjoyed some much-needed Arizona sun, golfed, dined—and talked. One night we decided to compare solutions to the Major Problems facing the United States. We were all surprised at what we heard. See what you think.

Look Who Came to Dinner

Among the 8 of us were 6 present or former CEOs, and 6 former or present management consultants. Industries represented included communications, manufacturing, restaurants, airlines, banking, healthcare services and forest products.

We’re all male, ages about 60-63. Most had children; some have kids still in their teens; some are on the cusp of grandparenthood.

If You Were Emperor of the US

We posed the question to each other, “If you were the emperor of the US, whatever that means, what policy steps would you put in place?”

Here is the list, together with the number of us who agreed (note there were some abstentions on a few questions):

  • Change the presidency to one six-year term, no renewals (7/8)
  • Imprison about 250 financial industry executives (3/6)
  • Shift House of Representatives terms to four years (8/8)
  • Reinstate some form of Glass Steagall (8/8)
  • Embark on major public works investments (6/8)
  • Adopt means-testing for social services programs (8/8)
  • Break up big banks (5/8)
  • Institute electoral campaign finance reform (8/8)
  • Increase immigration of high-education high wealth-creating people (7/8)
  • Cut the defense budget (8/8)
  • Some form of single-payer system for health care (5/6)
  • MBA programs take leadership role in creating an ethos of service in business (8/8)
  • More consumer responsibility for health care payments (7/8)
  • Cut back on scope of public sector benefits programs (6/8)
  • Increase age of social security (8/8)

(There were several substantive side comments, e.g. solve banking issues by shifting regulatory authority from the Fed to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; move public pension plans to 401ks; index social security).

I know of no reason why these 8 MBAs would differ from another group of similar vintage. And we were all quite serious in our recommendations.

Why Those Ideas Are So Not Happening

Lots of people think that the US is run by 60-ish ex-CEO’s from ‘top’ MBA programs. (Picture our two foursomes as the opening scene of a Wall Street-like movie about ‘who really pulls the strings in this country.’) But those ideas don’t seem to represent policy of either of the two major political parties. In fact, the odds are very low that most of them will be implemented.

There are many explanations for the discrepancy but two big ones are:

1. Our group of 8 was not representative
2. The world is indeed run by a small number of people, but MBAs are not at the center of it.

I vote for number 2. If we’re the ones pulling strings, apparently the strings we’re pulling aren’t attached to much.

Trust and Policies

One classmate (not in attendance) who did find his way to public office said it’s easy to explain why politicians don’t express those views: “You’d never get elected saying those things.”

Which leaves us all in a bit of a trust dilemma (assuming you think our ideas are not crazy–perhaps a big assumption):

• Are voters really that ignorant? (We all agreed that ‘yes’ is not an implausible answer).
• Is it reasonable to expect politicians to commit career suicide-by-truth-telling? (Probably not).
• Is our system broke? (We think so: that’s why we had such unanimity around social responsibility for business, and campaign finance).

In one respect, I imagine that we eight are like the majority of US citizens—we hold a set of beliefs about how things ought to be that is not mainly reflected in policy.

When most people feel their views are in the minority, social trust issues lurk. When it’s not one minority but many different ones, those issues are even tougher.

As one of our wiser golfers said, “Occasionally some of our global friends are inclined to over-simplify when looking at the US–this is one ungodly-complicated country to run.”


How Obama and McCain flubbed the trust question and how they could have answered it right

In the second US presidential debate October 7th, citizen Theresa Finch stood to ask her question of the two aspirants to the office of FLOTFW (Former Leader Of The Free World).

How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?

A perfectly fair question any day; an especially relevant question these days. And—since this was an overt trust question—let’s talk here about what the answers were, and what they might have been.

Let’s begin with the Trust Equation (credibility + reliability + intimacy, all divided by self-orientation) as a route into the question. What constitutes a good answer to the “why should we trust you?” question? Salespeople have to face this question all the time. Let’s see how The Two answered it.

Answer A “Well, look, I understand your frustration and your cynicism, because… you’ve got a family budget. If less money is coming in, you end up making cuts. Maybe you don’t go out to dinner as much. Maybe you put off buying a new car. That’s not what happens in Washington. And you’re right. There is a lot of blame to go around.” [Proceed to attack other and promote self.]

Answer B Well, Theresa, thank you. And I can see why you feel that cynicism and mistrust, because the system in Washington is broken.” [Proceed to attack other and promote self.]

Their answers are nearly identical. Their first words were to channel Bill Clinton, minus the sincerity. “I understand your frustration. You’re right. I can see why you feel….”

Trust hint 1 Do not assert, after hearing a total of one sentence from a stranger, that you “understand what you mean” or “can see how you feel.” You don’t, you can’t, and even if you could, it’s a form of arrogance to assert it. Low marks on intimacy (faking it) and on self-orientation (clearly focused on their own agenda).

Trust hint 2 Avoid the non sequitur. If there’s a logical link between the faux Clinton opening and the blatant self-aggrandizement that follows, at least give it a few sentences to establish the logic. Low marks on credibility (illogical), and again on self-orientation.

Trust hint 3 At least attempt to answer the question. Their concluding sentences—which ought to close the loop on the question—were “The key is whether or not we’ve got priorities that are working for you,” and “I know how to fix this economy, and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, and stop sending $700 billion a year overseas." Huh? Say what? Again, high self-orientation and low credibility.

Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, said, “Never answer the question they ask; answer the question you want to answer.” Was there ever a better reason to mistrust someone than that philosophy? Yet it persists in politics.

In fairness: how can you be trusted when you need 51% of the vote—every vote?

Let’s hear from you. How might either candidate have answered? To get us started, I’ll take a shot at it.

“Theresa, I happen to think that’s the most important question of the night. Lack of trust is what lies beneath liquidity and solvency in our banking crisis; is what’s causing us to spend massively on defense; and is costing us a mint in wasted litigation and transaction costs.

You’re right to point out that both political parties have mud on their hands. Regaining trust lost is doubly hard; and the country doesn’t have the luxury of saying ‘wait and judge us on our track record.’

So my answer is, partly—because you have to. We have no viable third party, and we’re still a stable democracy. Only we two are running. Still, that’s a big choice. You can choose X, or you can choose Y. Whichever you pick, a lot of people will agree, and many more will disagree with you.

Given that you’re stuck, the answer to “how will you trust” has got to morph into “what can I do to help make us a better country?” And I’d say this: hold us accountable. Don’t fall for us when we talk down to you in slogans. Write letters. Engage. Open your minds. Read magazines and blogs. Change the channels. Go talk to someone you disagree with. Don’t settle for someone who panders to the lowest common denominator. Figure out how to trust someone who’s leaning to vote the other way—then tell us all how you did it.

You want to trust one of us? Demand that we be worthy of your trust. Don’t settle. And why should you trust one of us? Because if you don’t, and don’t work at your part of it, you just withdraw from the game. And we need you to play your part.

Over to you. Post your own “why should we trust you” answer right here. I will personally pass on the winning answer to my good buddies Barack and John (both of whom could use it).

(Thanks to Stewart Hirsch for suggesting this post).



What Con Men Can Teach Us About Trust

Regular Trust Matters readers know I speak positively about trust. But there is no trust without risk. Trust can be misplaced, or abused. Bad consequences ensue.

Thanks to prodding from regular reader Martin Dalgleish, I think it’s time to explore the dark side of trust. Trust can be violated at a personal level; at an institutional and societal level; and, of particular interest to this blog, in the realms of advice-giving and sales.

Let’s start with the personal level in this post.

“Clark Rockefeller” was in the news this summer for kidnapping his own daughter. Turns out his real name wasn’t Rockefeller. In fact, very little that people thought about him turned out to be real.

Rockefeller is one version of a con man. The Boston Globe’s does a nice job of explaining how it is that he fooled so many people—two wives, the social elites of Greenwich and San Marino, California, brokerage firms—into believing that he was a wealthy heir of the Rockefeller fortune.

But how?

From the article:

We size up someone’s trustworthiness within milliseconds of meeting them…it’s the first thing we decide about a person, and once decided, we do all kind of elaborate gymnastics to believe in people….As in other cognitive shorthands, we make these judgments quickly and unconsciously.

Yet human society would not exist without trust…The art of the con is based on a variation of this idea: that trust is more reflexive than skepticism. Once people form an initial impression of someone or something, they seem to have a hard time convincing themselves that what they once believed is actually untrue.

More bad news: research suggests our “trust" is based on things like cheekbone shape and eyebrow arc.

You can fake trust. It’s not easy, but it can be done. There are plenty of slicksters slinging get-rich-quick schemes—the same names appear in boiler-room stock sales, then in death annuities, then in condos, then in no-doc loans. These con men are talented cynics.

Hollywood romanticizes the con man in movies like The Sting and Paper Moon; like the whore with a heart of gold (Pretty Woman), it’s a Hollywood fairytale feel-good staple.

The feel-good myth here is that once we uncover everyone’s true motives, the con will be revealed. It was either a real con by a black-hat Evil One; or a pseudo-con by the true white hat who is simply avenging a deeper wrong (Batman, Zorro). Motives determine all in this fairy-tale view of trust.

But here it gets tricky. In truth, the best con cons the con artist as well as the mark.

Most actors try to find a part of themselves that can relate to their character—then act from that deeply-felt affinity. Most salespeople are good at believing in what they’re selling. Most demagogues are true believers.

What we learn from the movies—and from politics, and religion—is that revealing true motives will reveal the con. Ah, so sorry, not true. The best con incorporates sincerity.

A fool who believes he can trust a sincere con is simply a misguided fool. Sincerity may be a necessary condition for trusting someone; it surely is not a sufficient condition. Worse yet, it’s not even a high hurdle to overcome. It ain’t that hard to believe.

The best way to be trusted is still to be trustworthy. And if you’re looking to trust, be careful of using sincerity as a shortcut. As George Burns once said, “The most important thing in life is sincerity; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” And the easiest way to fake sincerity is to simply believe your own con.

(Any political parallels the reader chooses to draw are entirely the reader’s own responsibility).

Balancing Logic and Emotion in Trust and Politics

Readers of this blog know that a common theme is the over-valuation of the rational in business. Deductive logic, process definition, behavioral psychology and rational persuasion are often over-emphasized in sales and in the professions, while the power of emotions and intuition are under-appreciated.

But lately in politics, we’ve got the opposite problem.

The trust equation (see the book  The Trusted Advisor) defines trustworthiness as:

Trust Equation


In that equation, credibility and reliability are the largely “rational” elements, while intimacy and self-orientation are more emotional or intuitive. 

US Presidential politics are now characterized not by a diminution of discussion about credibility and reliability, but by their near absence.

Maybe it began with Clinton blowing the sax on the Arsenio Hall show. But was that as much of a stretch as McCain on the Rachael Ray show?

The idea behind representative government, as opposed to a pure democracy, is that in a complicated world, you need to entrust decisions to others as a full time job. Issues like qualifications and experience, one would think, are relevant.

Yet in this election, the very concept of “experience” is either not defined, badly defined, or defined only to be reversed a day later.

Only four years ago, “flip-flopping” was an epithet. Now it’s barely worth yawning over. The concept of logic has been demoted to a mere nice-to-have, subordinated to the need to match the demographic-du jour.

The idea of someone you could have a beer with is an important aspect of trust. Necessary? I suppose arguably so.  But sufficient?  No way.

Does mankind advance through history? Read the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and then think of Obama on SNL, and McCain on The View. There’s your case for societal regression.

Fear and smear work because they appeal to the more primal, base level needs to the exclusion of higher-order issues. Hunger crowds out freedom of expression. And fear trumps hunger. Focus on fear limits the upside of political dialogue.

As in business, a reduction of all things to the lowest common denominator certainly works. It also dehumanizes, borrows against the future, and limits what people can become.
Can we talk? When it comes to politics, not very well, it seems.

December Carnival of Trust Accepting Admissions

Every month the Carnival of Trust highlights ten of the best posts on trust, whether business related or not. The next carnival will be Monday December third. If you’ve written a post you think would be a good fit, or if you have read a post by someone else that you think would be great for the carnival I’d like to encourage you to submit it for the carnival.  This month’s host is John Crickett of Business Opportunities and Ideas.

Carnival Submission Guidelines:

  1. The Deadline for submissions is midnight, Thursday November 29th.
  2. Posts do not have to be business related. Trust in personal relationships, politics, or any other sphere of life are more than welcome, and, indeed, encouraged.

Posts can be submitted here.

If you’d like to read a sample Carnival of Trust, both Whisper and David Maister have hosted editions. I look forward to another excellent edition with your help.

Lessons in Propaganda: What Politicians Learned from Business

I am hardly the first to note the application of PR principles to politics. Nor is it a new observation. Kennedy and Nixon had their communications advisors; Lincoln read books on rhetoric—ancient Greeks wrote them.

We now see it in mind-numbing three-word phrases printed, Louis Vuitton-like, on backdrops behind the Presidential podium; in the evolution of “talking points” from a novelty phrase during Monica-gate to commonplace today; and in the devolution of the Cabinet from advisory body to vehicle for staying “on-message.”

Many call this a failing of George Bush or of a Republican administration (though the Clintons know this material well too), or a misapplication or perversion of business principles.

But that’s not quite right. Politicians haven’t misappropriated business lessons—they borrowed directly, main-lining their Big Brother 1984 lessons from the very heart of what has come to be called business best practices.

The problem isn’t cynical politicians twisting business ideas; it is cynical business ideas themselves, granted mainstream legitimacy by business opinion leaders—the business media, business schools, industry associations, and business leaders themselves. Politicians are just following.

Take four common terms: “on message,” “brand,” “alignment,” and “communication.” Now think Marketing 101 (or any CEO’s speech), and see how familiar this sounds:

In this consumer-empowered, media-cluttered age, the company that understands customer needs and communicates its message the best is the one that will survive in this hyper-competitive market.

Consumers have less and less patience and attention span: companies need to develop a coherent branding message—the same on the web, in stores, and in ads—about who they are and what they can do for the customer.

A company not completely aligned around its core value proposition and the message it communicates about that proposition will fail. Sales collateral must be on-message with marketing’s branding; incentives must align with company strategy; measurements must track missions, aggregating to sustainable competitive advantage.

Even marketers—professional cynics—are taken aback by the success of a current ad campaign. You’ve seen it / heard it:

Apply directly to the forehead—apply directly to the forehead—apply directly to the forehead.

Blunt force repetitive trauma to the brain. Think Orwell. Goebbels. Big Brother. The Big Lie.

From there, it’s a quick trip to “we’re in Iraq to stop Al-Qaeda from invading Kansas,” with flight jacket and aircraft carrier backdrop.

Massive repetition works. Better than we like to admit. “Brainwashing” is just a value-laden term for what politely passes as “alignment” and “on-message” in the corporate setting. Even “shared values” brushes uncomfortably close to the same territory.

Reggae rapper Shaggy parodied this angle a few years ago in the song “It Wasn’t Me.” Seeking advice after having been caught in flagrante by his girlfriend, he’s told, “Just say ‘It wasn’t me’.” Repeat it often enough and you can get away with anything. Was he being ironic? Or just astute? (Did he help Larry Craig and OJ come up with “I’m not gay” and “it was my stuff”?)

Mainstream marketing and business 101 teach companies to simplify, refine, and focus on one message and mission, then design the whole organization to apply massive force to the fulcrum point of the customer.

The result is called “tuned,” “focused,” “aligned, “and—most chilling—a perversion of “customer-centric.” Apply directly to the marketing. Apply directly to the marketing. Apply directly to the marketing.

There is nothing “wrong” with these techniques per se—the means, in this case, are value-neutral. It is the ends to which they are put—the motives—that matter.

Unfortunately, Roger Ailes, Turdblossom et al didn’t have to translate the business play book to politics. They copied directly. Both have become about winning against other competitors/candidates—not about helping consumers/voters. Bombardment of the consumer/voter with simple messages is good for quitting smoking or announcing emergency traffic routes. For selling pharmaceuticals, wars and presidents? Not so much.

In business, it’s reach and frequency—in politics, it’s being on-message. Tax and spend. Support our troops. Apply directly to the amygdala.

The problem in business and politics is identical. Both have become all about competition and winning—not about consumers and voters. Both have turned the legitimate concept of “customer focus” from a goal into a tactic, linking it tightly to quarterly earnings and the two-year election cycle.

Business has turned "customer focus" into a codeword for tweak, massage and manipulate.

Modern marketing practices flaunt the dictionary, Shaggy-like, when they turn "communication"—formerly defined as "exchange of information"—into the one-way megaphone of "apply directly to the forehead."

At root, this is a failure of belief systems. We are teaching an ideology of short-term me-me-me-ism in business, and our politicians are drinking the same Kool-Aid. For those who think this brand of “competition” is what makes for a successful economy—take a look at the falling US dollar. A focus on commerce, not on competition, is what makes an economy great. We’ve gotten it backwards.

Don’t blame George Bush, Republican; blame George Bush, MBA President. Until the B-schools start preaching networks, collaboration, transparency and commerce in their strategy classes instead of in their so-called “ethics” classes, we in business have no right to complain about the politicians.

Trusted Politicians

Sound like an oxymoron?

There’s good reason for that.  Not just in fact, but in principle, it is hard to square politics with trust. Trusting a politician may be an exercise in pre-meditated resentment.

Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara once said,  referring to interacting with the press, “never answer the question you are asked; always answer the question you wanted to be asked.”

That may or may not be a good recipe for politicians; it is certainly bad advice for anyone who would be trusted. It speaks volumes to the desire to control others’ opinions, refuse to engage, and to willingness to appear evasive.

Mark Twain’s comment, “Congress is the only distinctly criminal class” is typical of our desire to believe otherwise—and our continued disappointment when the next politician reveals his colors. “Meet the new boss—same as the old boss,” sang Roger Daltrey years ago.

There’s a reason. Politics requires a continual calculation of how to align with the majority. A minority politician is, pretty soon, a losing politician. Passing legislation requires convincing others; getting elected requires convincing others. The art (or science, increasingly) of politics is combining effective majorities across various issues, while minimizing the perception of the minorities as being on the other side.

That means there is virtually no single principle that a successful politician can afford to consistently endorse.

Yet all the while, we engage with politicians in a mutual conspiracy to deny that this is the case. We insist on believing that politicians believe in principle; and they in turn use the language of principle, in order to gain our votes.

Then we become outraged in the cases when politicians are caught violating their principles—whether it’s Republican homophobes caught with their pants down, or Democratic social liberals invested in subprime mortgages.

Logically, we should not be enraged. Humanly, we are. Because we want to trust, and trust requires some measure of consistency around principles.

The answer may lie partly in losing our innocence. Trust in politics arguably requires term limits. Only lame ducks can afford to vote from principle.

On the other hand, to surrender to cynicism and accept politics as merely an exercise in coalition-building is to move in the direction of single-issue politics—abandoning the middle, and any hope for unity.

Or, to continue to hope for the best—a politician with just enough principles and persuasive capability to actually sway opinion. To create a majority where none existed.  A real leader, in short.

Well, hope springs eternal.

The July Carnival of Trust

Carnival of Trust logo

Welcome to the July edition of the Carnival of Trust.

I specifically invite you to read it as a whole, not as simply ten selected parts. There are themes that weave between the ten postings.

That’s what we promised you: an intelligent winnowing down to ten of some excellent writings on trust—in business, in sales, in government, in personal life.

But I hope this goes beyond. There are several story lines connecting the postings. I have tried to point out a few. Please have fun finding others, and add your own commentary here.

Thanks to all the contributors, including a number of excellent submissions that didn’t make it to Top Ten this time. Please don’t be disheartened; if you’re on point, keep submitting. Next month, the Editor at the Blawg Review has kindly consented to host the Carnival of Trust; guest hosting will be the rule going forward. Please stay tuned for details.

Trust In Sales and Marketing Logo

Is Big Pharma Shifty?

John Mack is a respected newsletter writer and blogger in the pharmaceutical sector, a major part of global industry and a critical one these days. Mack analyzes a Harris Interactive poll that shows "consumers think Big Pharma is shifty as well as greedy." No, no, not shifty too? Mack interprets for us.

A Little Knowledge is Great Marketing

Is it possible for a mega-corporation to act transparently and in the best interests of the consumer, in the belief that doing so will generate wiser customers first, and, later, higher profits for the company?

Ron Shevlin, at MarketingROI, would like to think so, and suggests that Bank of America’s recent educate-the-consumer initiative is such an effort—at least on face value.  Not unlike what Brad Burnham’s point of view B argues in Who Do You Trust to Edit Your News, below.

I share Ron’s hopes, though I’m sceptical that a major company like BofA can achieve escape velocity from the mass of company-centric, short-term metrics that have hijacked terms like "customer focus" in recent years.

Web Commerce, Trust and Akerlof’s Law

What do used car advertisements and dating services have in common? Allan Patrick educates us about Akerlof’s law about the asymmetry of information. Basically, absent independent brands of rating systems, "liars drive out buyers." What can a small quality website without brandname or a massive rating system do? Patrick has a few ideas. Interestingly, one of them—give the customer more information—would appear to be exactly what Ron Shevlin is talking about in A Little Knowledge is Great Marketing—see above.

How is Marketing About Relationships

Economics 101 tells us markets are about products and prices; in Econ 201, you hear about advertising and bargaining and bluffing, and in industrial economics, you learn about power dynamics in industry sectors.

But in Life 101, you learn how haggling over rugs creates relationships and societies, as well as efficiencies and long-term customers.

Dawud Miracle draws from a story in the Cluetrain Manifesto to explain how. Think about how it applies to the pharma-consumer relationship in John Mack’s post, Is Big Pharma Shifty?

Trust in Leadership and Management Logo

Agreement and Trust

Scott McLeod applies a great two-by-two matrix concept from Peter Block. The model is for analyzing leaders’ relationships with their essential people. For each relationship, how much do you trust them, and how much do you agree with them? Not all 2×2 grids result in useful diagnostics; this one does.

Credibility as a Core Company Initiative

Ardath Albee talks about relationship marketing minus thought leadership in her blog Marketing Interactions.

"I was speaking with a VP of marketing who said thought leadership was low on her priority list because it didn’t have an immediate impact on revenues…

The problem with only focusing on the near term is that when it runs out, what have you got left? To build credibility, every B2B company that’s in the game for the long-term should focus on thought leadership as one of their initiatives. Relationship marketing is a focus of many marketing initiatives these days, but without credibility, how strong a relationship can you build?"

Quite right, Ardath; high relationship can’t excuse zero content.

Blogging and Transparency Build Trust

Michele Martin works at the intersection of new media and the non-profit and government sectors. Trust works there too. Michele highlights an adept use of blogging by Six Apart CEO Barak Berkowitz to create trust—legitimately. You can tag this under transparency and candor as well as blogging and trust. (See also Alex Todd’s post, one selection down from this one).

Trust in Strategy, Economics and Politics Logo

Creating Trust in Government

Alex Todd is a thoughtful writer and consultant on trust, particularly on his concept of trust enablement.
A good example of Alex’s thinking is this post, about a current proposal in the Canadian legislature called the "Federal Accountability Act." Says Todd:

you cannot defend against a loss of trust unless trust already exists. Creating sustained trust – in government, commerce or our private lives – requires a balance of two approaches: both building trust and creating mechanisms to ensure that trust will not be abused.

A fine example of solid thinking applied intelligently to real and current issues.  Listen up, Ottawa. And Washington.  Trust isn’t just about prohibiting conflicts of interest; it’s also about engineering trusted relationships. (See also Dawud Miracle’s entry about markets and relationships, above).

Who do you Trust to Edit Your News?

Brad Burnham reports on his personal power-take-away from the Personal Democracy Forum in New York.

Point of View A: The lack of editorial control on the web leads to a dumbing down of media and culture, wherein YouTube makes television look positively BBC-like and facts are wildly out of control.

Point of View B: The web instantly corrects mis-statements of fact.

Brads post says more about this. He feels POV B wins on the media point.  I feel persuaded on that point, but the case for dumb and dumber at the cultural level still stands, IMHO.

Trust in Advising and Influencing Logo

How to Keep Your Word, Tupelo Kenyon

How should you keep your word?  Impeccably.

So argues Tupelo Kenyon, concluding "your word is your bond, your character, your reputation, and your integrity.  Your word is your opporutnity to practice being impeccable."

He argues it tightly.  And at length.  And in terms ranging from logic to history to poetry. You might say, impeccably.

Not an obvious choice for this carnival, but I hope you’ll agree a good one.