Lowest Common Denominator

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We are creating systems based on the lowest common denominator.  The act of a few on the extreme edges set the bar for the rest of us.  What if you showed more trust.  One CEO I worked with empowered his staff to ‘do the right thing.’  Sometimes this was producing tickets for a sold out show, extending a membership benefit to a lapsed donor who was befuddled by why they were not on a list, or just making sure an individual was recognized by name at the right moment.  Nothing revolutionary but it came with a sense of connection and compassion.  Where it would have been easy to say “no” or “sorry we cannot do that,” there was flexibility.  You cannot have a community without trust.  Would you join a group that was always asking you to prove your identity? 

Manipulation vs Trust

Here is an example of a campaign that is less transactional that some of the ones I noted in my Its About Trust post last week.  If you want a vote you still needs to be a Facebook fan of Crate & Barrel (the hook still exists which leading practices says is manipulative) but Crate & Barrel is committed to giving the money regardless of the number of fans and votes.  In an ideal world, Crate & Barrel would open the voting to everyone and trust that those that appreciated their generosity would become fans.  If Zappos is willing to trust that customers will not abuse the free return shipping policy (which could be a significant cost) then why not allow everyone who believes in the causes you are supporting to vote.  Some of these voters will become fans based on their own motivation and the retention rate of these fans (the stickiness of their relationship) will be quantifiable higher than those who opted in just for one purpose.

Manipulation works until you lose your leverage.  Trust works far longer and the rewards are much higher.


How does your cause demonstrate trust?  Is is done with words?  Actions? Programs? Volunteers? Partnerships? Relationships? Everyday? By proxy?  Through all individual or key leaders?  With a large megaphone?

Which organizations do you trust?  Why?  Which ones would you recommend to a colleague or friend?  Which organizations would you trust to take care of a friend no matter when and how they interacted?  What makes these organizations so trustworthy?

Keep your eyes open for trust today.

Real or Fake

The big debate in cycling right now focuses on the use of drugs or doping.  One friend argued  that as a casual fan he will take the excitement of race that has the ultimate dual, such as stage 17 of this years Tour de France.

I do not know if this stage was an authentic effort of two clean cyclists or if it was the sideshow performed by athletes who managed to game the system.  Purist would argue that this finish is a more realistic moment in the sport.

How important is authenticity?  Are your patrons more excited about the show and results or the honor in which you approach endeavors?  How does your cause measure trust?

What Happened to Trust?

On his PBS show last night Charlie Rose was interviewing John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley. Their conversation provided some light into the turbulent days of September 2008 when the financial markets began to plunge and long-standing Wall Street banks folded. No drama in the dialogue that bordered on a clinical. However, a theme that appeared throughout the interview has to do with the notion of trust. For Morgan Stanley and John Mack there were moments during which his firms very existence was at stake. He spoke about living in his office with his leadership team for a three week period. The ability for credit to flow between banks had broken down and yet at the same time he reflected back that the trust among the members of his leadership team grew dramatically. For the rest of their lives the small band of people who lived in the executive suite will forever be bonded by the shared experience.

Today I sit with headlines blaring about our return to late 1990’s levels in the markets. One of Idahos largest employers just announced layoffs numbering close to 2,000 jobs. Nonprofit clients and associates are trying to survive some combination of increased/decreased demand for services and decreased funding. The news is overwhelming and a replay of the same conversations that took place in John Mack’s office.

The real question in my mind is ‘when will we allow ourselves to trust again?’ John Mack has started trusting again. He speaks as if he has weathered the worst of the storm and is ready to ride out the backside with some more bruises. He sounds reverently optimistic. His firm sees trust growing and credit is opening up.

You can almost feel the trust being sucked away from those who are going into their own economic storms. There are also those individuals who feel that the front has passed over them and they are ready for some clouds, wind, rain, and hail but they trust.

If change is constant, perhaps we just need to trust that today and tomorrow will be different.