Friday, October 3, 2008

Aren't Fundoos enough that we also need Digital Deception?



In an age of such horrific acts as the Marriott incident and daily doses of attacks in Peshawar, one can only need enough to worry about before finding out that newer, more insecurity inducing entities lurk the dark corners that we seek haven in. 

In this advanced stage digital age, where security and trust are exchanged via digital data over highly encrypted high-speed connections, where handshakes happen at the speed of sound. Users of this elaborate technology barely have time to retreat once a command is given to process data. From the time you click the button to the time the data is received at the other end, there is little reaction time so one better be sure they trust the source they are communicating with.

Trust is probably the most undervalued and overlooked aspect of the virtual take-over by the Internet and electronic transactions. We assume that someone else is doing their job and ensuring the safety of our data. The necessity of person to person interaction is being replaced by digital products that now communicate on your behalf, as though representing you in binary numbers, with all your credentials pre-verified. But if you are required to ensure your personal information is legitimate, who enforces this upon the service provider? Just because they extend a service, does not legitimize their monopoly in the market. 

Unfortunately, a business that once seemed like a great idea, doesn't seem to be yanking the same set of trust and loyalty out of people as it once did. Yes, life is all about money and without it you are limited to all of the following (not in any particular order - dependent upon preference):
1. Begging
2. Lying
3. Cheating
4. Deceiving
5. Stealing

One could say these are the five cardinal sins of an untrustworthy entity. If your basis for providing services, especially financial, is primarily dependent upon the word TRUST (regardless of the language), the first order of business would be to understand how the service provider perceives the term TRUST. What does trust mean to the business? Does it mean make sure everything is OK at home before you walk out the front door to announce your life-changing solution to a problem? Or, do you jump the gun and announce your ability to change lives before ensuring your own stability?

Let's sidetrack for a moment and discuss another thought that might help put things in perspective. It's probably fair to say that most people have travelled in an airplane, especially one where safety is very VERY important to both the flight crew as well as the passengers. During the safety monologue, you may or may not notice (if you are like me and prefer the in flight entertainment) that the oxygen masks are supposed to be applied to the person they fall in front of before looking over and helping the person next to them, be it an infant or an elderly person. How selfish one may think. Or even, the child needs help first because he can't help himself. Well, consider the thought that went into the purpose of  ensuring your own mask is on before you reach out to help others; part of it is that your own sustainability is essential in order to be able to effectively help anyone else out and part of it is that if you cannot help yourself then you are endangering yourself and those you intend to help. 

Coming back to the previous point, if you are not sure of your sustainability, yet insist when asked that everything is A OK and on track, how does that work? You need people to trust you to ensure that your going to help them achieve success in whatever their problem is, yet you have not yet solved your own problem. That is also known as false advertising in the moral sense. Committing support to others is easy, especially when you really need them. It's like many shop keepers I have encountered; they sell you things they don't have in stock but commit to having it by the next day...which never really comes. 

Business is all about trust. Trust is an undervalued principle of delivering products and services these days, especially because it is easier to think on the mass level where quality can be so-so, rather than at an exclusive level where it has to be meticulous and flawless. I wish it could be like that at the mass level too but then that would not be feasible. But where does that leave a digital service provider, one that offers a free service for little or no fees and expects trust in return. Can you give your loyalty to a business that does not offer you the same in return? Here's Stanford's definition of TRUST. You would think they share this knowledge with everyone who passes through their gates. They talk in great clarity about why trust is important for society to function, or else there can be a breakdown at the core.

Let us take a tree and understand it from a different point of view. Assume that the roots, the trunk and the branches are all the core of the business:
A. Roots: The Senior Management and Board - those who agree where to find sustenance, i.e. revenue streams, business direction, etc.
B. Trunk: The channel of communication between the Management and the worker ants of the company. Also fair to say this may be the link of trust between the Management and Managers.
C. Branches: All the men and women who work for the business - The managers, The assistants, the team leads, the designers, the collectors, the salesmen, the engineers, the clerks, the accountants, and so on.
D. Leaves, Flowers and Fruit: The customers / the target market - those who show evidence of the success in the decisions made by the roots

It's almost like a (vicious) cycle. The roots need to make decisions that eventually bear fruit...proving that the roots made sound decisions in the interest of all those in between.

What is a business? A bunch of people who believe in an idea and legitimately offer it to the public for a price, be it cash or potatoes? I would think so...do you?

If the people who believe in the idea disagree with one another and don't give the team a full picture of what's really happening behind the scenes, that constitutes fraud and deception on the home ground, does it not? If the roots deceive the trunk and branches, there will be no fruit for anyone. At the end, the roots suffer the most because they need everyone else just like they all need the roots. One is no greater than the other, it's just that they all have their own responsibilities and each needs to ensure they are communicating efficiently and sufficiently with everyone so that there is a common goal in mind towards which all effort is directed.

Sadly, that is not the case with some businesses and that is when they need to realize that if a rotten seed is planted, the tree cannot be much better than the roots, no matter how good the idea may be. It's all about good management.

If you don't have assurance of the security being offered, 'You Should Not Proceed...'

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