The one little question that leads to trust

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Trust. It’s a hard sell.

You wouldn’t think that it is – I can imagine you sitting up a little straighter, indignant at the idea that it would be – but it’s not a concept that businesses actively chase. I should know: even though all of my services are geared to increase or create trust (with all its attendant benefits), and I even have a Trust Strategy for beleaguered and developing businesses, it’s never trust that brings business through my virtual door. It’s always An Issue. Never mind that The Issue would probably have never happened if the principles of trust had been present in the first place: it’s the loud, large, sexy Issue that gets all the attention while quiet, older, homely Trust sits in the corner, waiting for someone to take it out for a spin on the dance floor.

I get it. But ignoring trust is only for the foolhardy, and what’s more, the near sighted. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve become aware of two huge early adoptions that should make the rest of us sit up and take notice. But first, some background.

A couple of blogs ago I did a quick unpack of this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer. Some findings were expected, but a whole slew of them were real blow-me-down surprises. One of them is that the most trusted source of general news and information is now the search engine rather than traditional media. Another is that the market no longer just demands personal benefits from a business or institution: it also demands benefits for society and communities.

Bring on the adopters. First, massive buzz around the news that Google may be changing its algorithm from popular results to accurate results. Setting aside all the questions this raises, how about this idea: that Google is responding to the fact that 60% of the world now relies on it for its news and information, and suddenly, accuracy is vitally important.

Second, this little survey I spied on Facebook a few weeks ago:

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I’m pretty sure, drawing the same bow, that you can work this one out all on your own.

Which begs the question: if Google and Facebook are paying attention to trust, what about the rest of us? What about you?

There are many roads to trust but they are all part of one main line. Here’s the thing: a business or organisation knows exactly what kind of actions – both internal and external, because they actively affect each other – lead to distrust. They know that the dodgy product or service, the mistreated employee, or the lack of transparency, affect trustworthiness. They may choose to ignore it, or hope that it doesn’t come back to bite them on the bum, but they know. And likewise a business or organisation – my services and Trust Strategies aside – also knows, or strongly suspects, the actions that build it.

This is the main line: that all functions of your business or organisation should lead to trust.

Simple? Yes. Complex? That, too. But it means that you can begin now. That you don’t have to wait for me or anyone else to tell you how to be trusted. Everything you do can just be submitted to the ultimate question: does this lead to trust, or away from it? Just like some Christians wear symbolic bracelets with the letters WWJD, you too can ask yourself, “What would a trusted business do?”

The answers will not just change the way you do business, but the way you impact the world.