I recently re-read Stephen Covey’s “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything,” and in light of our recent thinking on Trust and Reputation, I would like to emphasize a few points. First, that while Trust is important on a personal level, it is absolutely critical for business interactions. Second, Trust is not static. It can go up or down with the ebb and tide of normal business but it can be proactively managed and maintained.
In the opening section he recounts a meeting he had where one of the attendees expressed to him privately how he had distrust for the other attendees and stated: “Either you have trust or your don’t.” Covey closes that section stating that in fact there is a LOT we can do to establish and increase trust and that by doing so, will have a huge positive impact. Trust will always affect two outcomes; speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up. Just look at the time/cost of airport security after 9/11. The reverse is also true; when trust goes up, speed goes up and cost goes down. For example, Internet commerce was broadly criticized during its emerging days while now, almost 20 years in, it has grown and eclipsed many of the brick and mortar retailers of the day.
A little deeper into the book, Covey recounts his experience with the merger between Franklin Quest and Covey Leadership Center to form FranklinCovey. He goes on to define Trust as confidence vs. suspicion in interactions with others and interactions between businesses. In fact he quotes many great business leaders like Jack Welch, Alan Greenspan and Jeff Bezos to prove his point that in business Trust equals SPEED!
“Trust happens when leaders are transparent, candid and keep their word. It’s that simple.” -Jack Welch
He wraps up giving us a tool to enable businesses and individual to manage Trust related risk which he calls the “Smart Trust Matrix.” Like Covey’s father’s explanation of the Priority Matrix, the Smart Trust Matrix helps individuals to operate in a space of high trust vs. distrust. It’s a great tool and critical for businesses who want to assess and manage their reputations.
I agree wholeheartedly with Covey’s assertion that you can control your Trust and that it can be impacted positively if managed proactively. In fact, in our next software release, we plan on introducing a way businesses can control, grow and disclose their trustworthiness to others. A central depository of Trust, or as we call like to call it, a Trust Exchange.