So who do you trust? Given the decline in trust and the rise of protest movements like the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring, the chances are that you trust nobody. So how can we rebuild trust in a world where The Protestor just got made Person of the Year and every traditional source of political and economic authority seems to be in crisis?
The person I most trust about trust is Robert Hurley, a Fordham university business professor who is the author of The Decision to Trust and one of the world’s leading authorities on building high-trust organizations. As Hurley told me when we talked on Skype last week, there is both a generational decline in trust as well as a decline in the actual trustworthiness of leaders and institutions. So what to do? According to Hurley, it’s first recognizing the viral nature of trust in today’s digital world, and then – learning from trustworthy brands like Amazon and Apple – actually delivering on one’s commitments.
If there is a lesson from Robert Hurley to entrepreneurs it’s to beware of the Netflix syndrome. One mistake can ruin a brand’s reputation and destroy its trust with consumers. So operate in a perpetual crisis mode, he recommends. And don’t over-promise. In our radically transparent world, Hurley advises, honesty is really the only way to guarantee the trust of the consumer.