Are we too busy to connect to real people?

I recently had a meeting in the City of London with a group of executives – the interesting fact was when I left the boardroom, there was this picture on the wall with the words:

‘Do more things that make you forget to check your phone’

– which prompted me to write this blog.

The facts, do we actually have time for our most precious relationships, do we give the time to build lasting relationships around trust and values or do we constantly feel we can always do better with the latest api or technology app?

Let’s face it: Technology is everywhere, but the more we depend on it, and the more we use it when we don’t really need it, the harder it becomes to create meaningful relationships — and sometimes, it actually makes things more difficult.

Is it really best to brainstorm an upcoming project with your co-worker over email, or would it make more sense to walk over to that person’s desk and have a face to face discussion? Can you actually go a whole dinner without checking your smartphone? Is it necessary to charge your phone right by your head at night?

In February, 2017 I wrote a very interesting blog ‘Has Technology Killed Love and Romance?’. The attributes that have now come to define us and the overexposure that the 21st century human is subjected to leaves no dearth of psychological problems. More and more people each year are diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety problems. This becomes a detriment when it comes to business and personal survival with relationships. With dissatisfying home, office or academic environments the relationship in many cases becomes the dumping ground for emotional baggage.

I challenge you to try going without technology when possible you will be surprised how great it feels (and how little really happens when you’re out of touch). While some business people avoid e-mail and mobiles during their time off, others find it tough to remain out of contact.

According to the study conducted by a group of international researchers, anyone who devotes more than four hours daily on screen-based entertainment such as TV, video games or surfing the web, ups their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113 percent and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 50 percent compared to those who spend less than two hours daily in screen play – and this is regardless of whether or not they also work out.

A very interesting TEDx video by Leslie Perlow – Thriving in an overconnected world, Leslie Pernow argues that the always “on” mentality can have a long-term detrimental effect on many organizations. In her sociological experiments at BCG and other organizations, Pernow found that if the team – rather than just individuals – collectively rallies around a goal or personal value, it unleashes a process that creates better work and better lives.

A very good friend of mine, Moran Lerner, is a behavioural and experimental psychologist with expertise in the fields of Cognitive Behavioural Innovation, computational intelligence and human-machine interaction. Moran has founded/co-founded over 20 market-leading global companies with 14 successful exits in Computational Intelligence, Biomimetics, Interactive Gaming and Behavioural and Bio Engineering over the past 20 years.

We often explore new and creative ways of listening, engaging, working together, learning, building community and being in conversation with the other. We are more connected than ever through technology and at the same time the disconnect with ourselves, others and our environment is growing.
We need ‘Meaningful Conversations’ to help us reconnect, going beyond our egos and our fears to build strong relationships, communities, networks and organisations, so that through collaboration.

Anyone who has sat on a Caribbean beach this summer will be familiar with the thrill of mobiles producing an instant response among supposedly off-duty executives. Mobile phones, BlackBerries, iPads, WiFi and sub-miniature laptops make it all too possible to pack the office along with your luggage. But how in touch or out of touch should businesspeople be?

So, what happens if you run your own firm?

You might have the big salary that comes with the top job, but little time to enjoy it.

Can CEOs ever release their grip and truly take a break?

The biggest obstacle to disconnecting is not technology: it is your own level of commitment or compulsion when it comes to work. If you work 80 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, you may find it pretty hard to get your head out of the office – and even harder to break the association between hearing the ping of an incoming email and immediately shifting into work brain.

If you told somebody 50 years ago that the most world-changing invention of the near future was telephones you could carry around in your pocket, they’d probably look at you like you were insane. But it’s true — mobile phones (and the data networks that have grown with them) have drastically reshaped the way we live in thousands of different ways.

Remember when horror movies had people menaced by slashers with no way to call for help? Remember unfolding confusing paper maps, trying to find where you were on the road? Remember racking your brain to think of that actor who played a robot on that one show? All of those things are gone thanks to Google and the incredibly powerful networked computers we carry in our pockets.

With great power comes great responsibility, however, and scientists are starting to learn that spending so much time staring at our phones is actually doing some damage to our physical, social and intellectual lives.

Here a few reasons why you should balance you time on your device:
It damages your eyes – Experts advise that prolonged screen usage can be seriously detrimental to eye health

It makes people perceive you negatively – Studies from Takashi Nakamura – Professor in computers in human behaviour reveal that frequent peeks at your device might damage your friendships as much as your eyes.

They carry bacteria – A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine determined that one out of every six cell phones in England is contaminated with fecal matter, and 16 percent of them carry the E. Coli bacteria.

It’s bad for your neck – “Text Neck” has been springing up more and more in the last few years. The human head is a heavy object, and our neck and spine are designed to keep it up at a certain angle.

It makes driving dangerous – Recently released results from a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) naturalistic driving study continue to show that distracted driving is a tangible threat. The study showed that a staggering 213,000 accidents involved cell phone usage.

It makes walking dangerous – Phones can distract you on the street just as much as behind the wheel. In fact, an increase in pedestrian deaths last year was partially due to distractions caused by smartphones – some countries including the Netherlands – the Dutch town of Bodegraven has come up with a clever new way of keeping phone-obsessed pedestrians safe as they cross the road, a strip LED traffic signals installed in the pavement that glow red or green, allowing pedestrians to see if it is safe to cross, even if their eyes are glued to their phone screens.

It can damage your hands – We have all heard about “cell phone elbow” and “Blackberry thumb.” We’ve heard that looking down at a smartphone puts pressure on the spine and may damage your eyes. We are now experiencing “text claw,” a soreness and cramping in the wrists, forearms and fingers resulting from overusing our phones. But now we’re learning that such overuse might lead to temporary pain or even a deformity of your pinky finger.

It’s bad for sleep – Many people have a hard time putting down their cell phones before bed — when your Twitter interactions are going crazy, that temptation to take just one more look is hard to resist. Unfortunately, a number of studies have revealed that using LCD screens — especially close to your face — can upset your natural sleep cycle.

It makes you stressed – A study at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden attempted to measure the effects of cell phone usage on people in their 20s over the course of a year, the study connected mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults.

It can make you hallucinate – even when you’re not looking at your phone, it can still mess with your mind. A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University conducted a study on “phantom pocket vibration syndrome” — i.e. people thinking that their cell phone was vibrating to alert them even when it wasn’t. In her survey, 89 percent of undergraduates reported thinking that their mobile was vibrating even when it wasn’t. The fact that our brains are being rewired to constantly expect this stimuli can also lead to stress, with another study observing significantly elevated anxiety levels in subjects separated from their phones for an hour.

It is altering your brain – this last one isn’t a definite negative — scientists still don’t understand exactly what is happening — but it’s troubling nonetheless. A study from the National Institutes of Health hooked up 47 people to PET scanners and observed their brain activity while a cellular phone was kept close to their head. The scientists observed a visible increase of about 7 percent, but as of yet don’t know its cause or what kind of long-term effects it will have. What we do know, however, is that the radiation is up to something in there, and are you really willing to take that risk?

“Most people check their phone every 15 minutes or less, even if they have no alerts or notifications,” Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind . “We’ve built up this layer of anxiety surrounding our use of technology, that if we don’t check in as often as we think we should, we’re missing out.”

Rosen’s research has shown that besides increasing anxiousness, the compulsion to check notifications and feeds interferes with people’s ability to focus.

Besides the wasted time, there’s also the psychological grind that comes from spending too much time on your phone. Several studies have shown social media can be bad for your mental health, and Facebook admitted last year that passive use of its social network can leave people in negative moods. Researchers are still trying to figure out what long-term effects channelling so much time and energy into our devices will cause.

Some large investors are even pressing Apple to develop new tools to help users curb their phone addictions, saying that a feeling of dependency is bad for the company’s long-term health.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for Apple – you can simply become more deliberate about how you use your phone.

One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Leslie Perlow, who is the Konsuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and author of the book, “Sleeping With Your Smartphone”.

As described in her book. the group found that taking regular “predictable time off” (PTO) from their smartphones resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance.

Four years after her initial experiment, Leslie Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm’s Northeast offices including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments.

Final thought….. If you use your phone less, you’ll end up with more free time. Much of this will be in small chunks, such as when you are in the elevator, waiting in line of on the train. These can be great opportunities to take a deep breath and just do nothing (which can be a surprisingly relaxing and restorative experience).

You’re also likely to find yourself with longer periods of time to fill. In order to keep yourself from reverting to your phone to entertain you, it’s essential that you decide on several activities you would like to use this time for and then set up your environment to make it more likely that you will stick to these intentions.

For example, if you say you want to read more, put a book on your coffee table, so when you flop down on the couch at the end of a long day, your book will be within eyesight and reach. If you want to practice playing music, take your instrument out of its case and prop it up in the hall, where it will be easy to grab when you have a few spare moments. If you want to spend more time in mindfulness take the time to schedule time for meditation and practice it daily. If you want to spend more time with your family or a particular friend, make plans to do so and put your phone in your pocket or bag for the duration of your time together. Smartphones are habit-forming, so think about the habits you want to form.

As American author Regina Brett once said:

“Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.”

IBEM Executive Thought Leadership Forum – October 2023

IBEM staged its annual event on Thursday 12th October 2023, ‘Unlocking Executive Leadership Through the Trust Economy’ in London at Freeths LLP.

We would like to thank our sponsors at Freeths LLP and all the support Stewart Elliston and his team provided in making this event possible and welcoming to all our guests.

Our key note speakers did a spectacular job in sharing their prospective and wisdom with the audience, a big thank you to our CEO Geoff Hudson-Searle, Dan Ilett, Douglas Lines, Sally Duckworth, Lieutenant Colonel Oakland McCulloch, and Julian Middleton.

The Executive Thought Leadership Forum at IBEM had been in our sights for some time: businesses, particularly in Leadership, need to navigate a different course and see the Global Economy through a different lens – change is speeding up – Change is not a phase, change is constant. CEO’s are being measured with a new yardstick The supreme test of a CEO and board of directors is now the value they create not just for shareholders, but for all stakeholders.

A few key thoughts from the event:

• Trust is fundamental to a healthy organizational culture. Each organization must choose whether to earn a trust dividend or pay a trust-tax.
• Every organization has a culture. The best organizations invest in shaping and nurturing their culture.
• People follow leaders. Compliance-based organizations that do not invest in trust are losing trillions annually.
• Leadership and trust are earned, not an entitlement.
• One toxic manager can poison an organization and your culture is determined by the behaviors your reward and tolerate. Choose carefully.

Invite: IBEM Unlocking Exec Leadership Oct 2023 – Invite
Slides: IBEM Unlocking Exec Leadership Oct 2023 – Slides – V3

Ima von Wenden (MCIPR) interviews Geoff Hudson-Searle on The Trust Paradigm and Strategy

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ima von Wenden (MCIPR) for a glass of champagne at one of London’s most prodigious clubs, The Savile Club.

The club was established in 1868 by a group of the most distinguished writers and artists of the time, a perfect venue to be discussing my latest book.

Ima is an experienced global communications professional with a successful track record in PR, strategy and media relations.

Ima wanted to discuss the recent publication of “The Trust Paradigm”, she went on to say ‘’I found this book interesting, well-researched and well-structured, published at the right time and offering real solutions to serious C-suite readers on both sides of the Atlantic.’’

‘’Despite daily headlines questioning the public trust to the Government and post-pandemic media coverage of distrust of the bosses towards employees working from home, there’s too little talked about the growing distrust of the employees towards bosses. And this book addresses this issue, giving practical tools and steps for today’s business and thought leaders to prevent crisis in corporate communications.’’

‘’Trust is the most valuable asset of any business and losing it spells the beginning of the end. The book explains how to spot a problem with trust and take the needed actions to prevent it escalating into a crisis.’’

‘’I found particularly invaluable the second part of the book outlining a clear strategy for dealing with diminishing trust, something which is too often too difficult to develop on your own. I am certain that this book will be a great reference source for me and my clients when advising them on crisis comms related to their internal corporate affairs.’’

‘’I think this book should be read by the business owners/managers of every level and the communication experts like myself. Thank you for your great work!’’

Ima was interested to continue the conversation across my views on strategy, here are a list of the questions and my answers:

1) Can you please explain the difference between ‘strategy’ and ‘strategic management?
 The essence of strategy is about the courses of action necessary, or approach taken, for achieving the organization’s core objectives and ultimately the overall purpose.
 Strategic management concerns the management of the organization’s overall purpose, to ensure all the needs of the present are considered with those of the future. These may relate to all the six specific tasks of purpose, objectives, strategy, implementation, execution, and strategic control

2) Explain the levels of involvement in strategic management and the role of staff at each level. How does the strategy hierarchy facilitate this?
 The main responsibility of strategic management is predominantly at the top level. This is because senior management is most knowledgeable of the purpose of the organization and can therefore direct the whole organization to accomplish it.

3) Explain the controversial debate in strategic management regarding how strategy can be formed or formulated, ie – how emergent strategy is different from deliberate strategy.
 Despite the more sophisticated contributions to the subject field on what makes up the strategy, one of the key debates is if strategy should be formed over time or be formulated by senior management.
 With formulation, the main premise is that senior management has the best knowledge of the overall strategy and is most appropriate for deciding on a strategy that the rest of the organization should follow. This view suggests that strategy should be consistent and specific to the organization, which is what gives it competitive advantage.

4) Discuss the importance of purpose to an organization, and how that purpose may be regarded as synonymous to the purpose that underpins human existence.
 The starting point to anything is its purpose, which is the same whether it is an organization or a human being. While there are numerous theories behind the existence of human beings on Earth, every individual has his/her own belief, and it is that belief that determines how s/he lives his/her life. An organization exists for a long-term purpose, and making money is only one activity that facilitates the achievement of that long-term purpose, and does not constitute that purpose per se (otherwise it will have accomplished it already!).
 To make a ‘purpose’ comprehensible to the organization, three distinct components are available to assist: vision, mission and values. The role of each of these is different, and quite often companies get it wrong. Even if these are not explicit, every organization still has them in the sense that they are implicit in the way it manages. Explicit statements also have the advantage of promoting to the public the strength of the company and further acts as a marketing tool.

5) Is there always a perfect alignment between an organization’s purpose and culture?
 There may be a mismatch between the true intention of the organization’s purpose and its culture mainly due to the lack of clarity of the former.
 The purpose normally influences the culture of the organization as the purpose exists first and then people who are appointed to the position are then nurtured to the needs of that purpose. However, for reformed organizations, such as those which have become the outcome of non-organic growth (merger and acquisition activity), then the cultures may have existed first through a legacy of the merged companies and the newly established purpose may not be consistently or well aligned with them.
 There are three levels of culture (artifacts, espoused values, and basic underlying assumptions) which must be managed differently by the manager concerned, and if these are not managed properly there is likely to be misalignment to the organizational purpose.

6) Discuss the dangers of mismatch between corporate image and corporate identity. What strategies are possible for closing this difference gap?
 Corporate image and corporate identity are different things: the former refers to what the organization is understood as to the stakeholders (as receivers), and the latter refers to the organization’s self-image.
 It is common for a mismatch between the two, particularly when the marketing efforts of the organization are not effective; in this case it is important that the organization is not prone to bad public impression.

7) How can the emergence of the importance of corporate social responsibility be seen as a threat to the purpose of an organization?
 If the organization is an old one, there may be explicit mission statements that do not accord with the present expectation of corporate social responsibility.
 Compliance with corporate social responsibility matters may often be expensive, and therefore the incurrence of these costs may mean cut-backs on other organizational objectives.

8) How can objectives be used as a filter system through which the organizational purpose is transferred into comprehensive outcomes against which to measure performance?
 The primary role of objectives is to break down the organizational purpose into an understandable definition, often offered by a set of objectives that relate to different people in different parts of the organization.
 This can be done through a number of ways, and tools have been developed over the years to deal with this role, for example the balanced scorecard is probably the most prominent, but there are other ‘performance management tools’, such as the performance pyramid, tableau de bord, etc.
 There are different kinds and types of objectives, all serving different purposes. The way organizations use and categorise objectives (into those which are strategic vis-à-vis operational) is a way of identifying what needs to be done to drive performance and what monitors performance.
 Employees need to be clear about their objectives and what they mean, in order for them to be effective.

9) How can objectives be problematic, and in what way can the use of objectives be considered as ‘bad’ management?
 Bad management of objectives is when organizations do not understand what kind of objectives they are in the first place. For example, some are strategic and some are operational, and the tools employed for them may be problematic if they are not understood properly.

10) How can a SWOT analysis be useful for both internal and external organizational environmental analysis?
 A SWOT analysis recognises the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats confronting an organization. These relate to both the internal as well as external environments, and are often used as a quick framework to provide an overview of an organization.
 The SWOT list should not be static; these items should be updated as continuing areas to monitor for them to be useful to an organization.

11) Explain the meaning of ‘the world is flat’ in the context of globalization.
 In practice, this means that nations must find new sources of competitive advantage, new strategies must be found for local companies, and strategic approaches for global level business must be championed.
 Globalization does not just mean that trade barriers have been opened and companies can source internationally; anything that helps to provide a platform for seeking cross border advantages, such as the emergence of the internet over the last 15 years, may be used as a strategic platform.

12) If the benefits of globalization concern the expansion of operations across international borders, why then is it necessary to consider a strong home base?
 The foundation of a strong home base helps to support global strategies (and is not contradictory to globalization!). Porter argued that industrial sectors are clustered in geographical regions, which need nurturing to ensure a sufficient concentration of suppliers and specialised resources, so that a balance of home-based and dispersed foreign activities are pursued.

Ima asked me what is next in my writing, at which point I recited the words of Winston Churchill: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Geoff Hudson-Searle is an independent digital non-executive director across regulation, technology and internet security, a C-Suite executive on private and listed companies, and a serial business advisor for growth-phase tech companies.

With more than 30 years of experience in international business and management. He is the author of six books and lectures at business forums, conferences, and universities. He has been the focus of London Live TV, Talk TV, TEDx and RT Europe’s business documentaries across various thought leadership topics and his authorisms.

Geoff is a member and fellow of the Institute of Directors; an associate of The International Business Institute of Management; a co-founder and board member of the Neustar International Security Council (NISC); and a distinguished member of the Advisory Council for The Global Cyber Academy.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration. Rated by Agilence as a Top 250 Harvard Business School thought leader authority covering blogs and writing across; ‘Strategic Management’ and ‘Management Consulting’, Geoff has worked on strategic growth, strategy, operations, finance, international development, growth, and scale-up advisory programmes for the British Government, Citibank, Kaspersky, BT and Barclays among others.

The trust Paradigm
At Amazon: buy now

LinkedIn: profile

Building the High-Trust Driven Organisation

There is a strong connection between a high-trust culture and business success. In fact, the connection is so strong that strategy-minded leaders, who care deeply about the financial well-being of their business, should make building a high-trust culture a top priority.

The disruptive world that we all now operate within is a crucible within which resilient leadership is now forced to redefine. Acting without perfect information, often with only a few hours or days to spare, CEOs need to guide their organisations through the daily myriad of decisions and challenges, with significant implications for their company’s whole system; employees, customers, clients, financial partners, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders, as well as for society as a whole.

Considering the fact that all entities are primarily made up of people, it is important for individuals in any organisation, nation or global community to trust each other and themselves to get the work done.

Indeed, not only is trust between people necessary for the success of any endeavour, but it is also essential for any entity to even exist.

Trust starts with transparency: telling what you know and admitting what you don’t. Trust is also a function of relationships: some level of ‘knowing’ each other among you and your employees, your customers, and your ecosystem. And it also depends on experience: Do you reliably do what you say?

In times of growing uncertainty, trust is increasingly built by demonstrating an ability to address unanticipated situations and a steady commitment to address the needs of all stakeholders in the best way possible.

Transformation and Change

The converse in high-trust cultures is equally true. When the trust goes up in an organisation, the speed will go up and costs will come down. Your ability to collaborate goes up, as does your ability to attract, retain and engage people. When trust goes up, you’ll see people sharing information, not being afraid to make mistakes, more creativity, higher accountability and greater energy and satisfaction. When you move the needle on trust, you move all kinds of other needles with it.

As businesses and governments transform to meet new challenges, it’s essential to embed trust intelligence into the core of their operations.

I wrote a blog in January 2022, ‘Leadership needs to lead with Trust Intelligence (TI)‘ which defines why the five Intelligences; IQ, EI, SI, DI and WI.

As humans we need a balance of skill, competence, morality and ethic behaviours to be truly effective in this new world, however, all these intelligences need to be within the TI umbrella to truly be effective.

Moral and ethical leadership is the key to a successful business, yet it’s clear from the news lately that the leaders of some of our most influential governments and corporations are making morally questionable decisions. These decisions will lose the trust of society, customers and employees.

Trust is the foundation of high-functioning relationships and can only be achieved by meaningful dialogue. It is clear that this is not happening. Instead, we’re using electronic communication, where it should never be used.

Enterprises powered by trust will be able to deliver on all three transformation drivers: people, technology and innovation. They’ll be able to leapfrog their competitors. To shape new markets. To lead to better futures.

It’s hard to quantify exactly how important trust is for a business. For business owners, a lack of trust is your biggest expense. It may take years for a manager or an executive to develop the trust of his or her employees, but only moments to lose. Without trust, transactions cannot occur, influence is destroyed, leaders can lose teams and salespeople can lose sales. The list goes on.

Trust and relationships, much more than money, are the currency of business.

Trust is the natural result of thousands of tiny actions, words, thoughts, and intentions. Trust does not happen all at once; gaining trust takes work. It might take years of calling on a certain client to break through and fully gain their comfort and trust. Yet in spite of the importance of trust in the business world today, few leaders have given it the focus and nurturing it deserves.

Building, maintaining, and sustaining trust is essential, and it is one of the central tenets of Human Resource Management (HRM) theory to actualize such organizations that have a high trust intelligence within them.

This means that HR professionals have the new task of building trust, and more importantly, maintaining and sustaining it so that organisations continue to thrive and differentiate in the new competitive marketplace.

While many factors determine whether a particular organisation is a high-trust or low-trust environment, the key aspect is the organisational culture which needs to encourage trust between the employees and the organisational stakeholders and within the employees.

Organisational Culture is the codified and implicit set of rules or codes of conduct by which organisations operate and hence, the way in which organizational culture is defined, maintained, and upheld is indeed important for organizations to function.

The importance of every organization and HR Function requires clear instructions from Boards, Senior Management and Executive leadership to codify policies and rules or codes of conduct that determine how employees must behave and act in their interactions with each other and with the larger organisational ecosystem.

This is contingent upon the HR function to first assist the stakeholders in defining the rules, and then ensuring that such rules are consistently maintained and enforced, and perhaps, the most important aspect here is that such codes of conduct must be upheld meaning that during times of crisis, the HR function must indeed “co-create” or must back up words with action and execution.

A key challenge for any HR professional is to ensure that cultural factors and socio-cultural influences do not come in the way of actualizing a high-trust organisation.

Authentic cultures are not formed by values posted on the wall; they are the result of leaders being purposefully committed to living those values and willing to personally change in order to model the behaviours and actions that maintain integrity.

When values are real, employees and customers know the enterprise is authentic and true to its culture. Especially in a crisis, comparing actions to values is a litmus test of a company’s authenticity.

Culture, we know, is the core of resilience, but it alone is not enough. Other work by our company has shown that organisations that accelerate performance during good times and bad are able to mobilise, execute, and transform with agility.

Today, a company’s foresight, ability to learn, and adaptability will set it apart.

Companies strong in these areas have leaders who are future-focused, demonstrate a growth mindset, are able to pivot quickly in times of rapid disruption, and maintain resilience to navigate their organisations.

Trust is the Glue

Trust is at the foundation of healthy relationships. At its core, trust is the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another. It is an expectation that two parties will act in a way that is mutually beneficial. For these reasons, trust is a key element of effective communication, teamwork, employee commitment and productivity. It leads to stronger working relationships and a healthier organisational culture.

Because of the inherent vulnerability involved in trusting relationships, it is widely understood that trust must be earned. This is true whether it is between two colleagues, a manager and an employee, or even between an employee and the organisation at large. In some instances, it can be hard to build and sustain because individuals may not be aware of the unintentional ways that they have broken the trust of their colleagues.

Once Trust is Broken

A lack of trust in the workplace is the virus that can create a diseased workplace culture. It often begins with leadership and spreads throughout the team, leading to a cycle of unhealthy responses that affect engagement and productivity.

As a leader, if you don’t trust your team, you’re likely either micromanage or withhold information and work on initiatives on your own or with a select group of people. This can create a vicious cycle, as your team may respond by pulling back even further, so you’ve created a perfect storm in this self-fulfilling prophecy of distrust.

Trust helps to make challenging conversations easier – this has been written in my new book “The Trust Paradigm” : making teams more integrated and employees more engaged. Exploring ways in which trust can be built can help individuals and companies create stronger relationships and healthier cultures.

Mark Herbert, my Co-author of ‘The Trust Paradigm‘, states:

“It is my belief that an important part of empathy is the ability to trust and be trusted. When your employees feel that you care, then you have earned their trust. If they trust you, they will take more risks with you and be more open with you. People will talk openly with you only when they trust you. As trust builds, there will be more sharing of information, feelings, and thoughts. The more you share, the easier it is to relate to one another. Building trust is something that takes time and effort. It involves both you and the other person in the relationship. The level of trust is what makes each relationship unique.”

From swift decisions to shutter offices, institute work-from-home policies, and scale the technological tools to stay connected to customers and stakeholders, agile leaders have assessed the risk and pivoted quickly.

They must also reassess the medium and long term, building on past crisis interventions and associated learnings to evolve operations and innovate to meet changing needs, all while staying true to their culture.

To explain, trust is as much a function of personality as it is about the societal culture from which people come.

Many sociologists have pointed out, most Western nations are implicitly high-trust ones, and while developing countries do have high-trust cultures, it is often the case that due to the diversity of such cultures, there are challenges arising from cultural norms as far as building and maintaining trust is concerned.

Clarity of thinking, communication, and decision-making will be at a premium.

Those CEOs who can best exhibit this clarity, and lead from the heart and the head, will inspire their organisations to persevere through this crisis, positioning their brand to emerge in a better place, prepared for whatever may come.

Crises like these, with deep challenges to be navigated, will also lead to opportunities for learning and deepening trust with all stakeholders, while equipping organisations for a step change that creates more value not just for shareholders, but for society as a whole.

From time to time, we lose our bearings as individuals, especially when facing overwhelming challenges, as we are today faced with a changing global environment; it is in these moments that we lean into our core, our character and personal values, to find strength and focus on what really matters.

Leaders facing the unprecedented times and circumstances of the moment are also looking to their organisation’s core, its communal culture and values, to inspire resilience, unleash agility, and help employees to thrive, not simply survive.

It’s also important to recognise and address the emotions of all stakeholders.

This is not just about charts and numbers. Narratives can be powerful ways to acknowledge the fears that naturally surface in times of crisis, while at the same time framing the opportunity that can be achieved if stakeholders come together and commit to overcoming the challenges that stand in the way.

A recent survey carried out by DataPad for and on behalf of International Business and Executive Management asked employees questions on ‘trust and respect’ in relation to their executive leadership, heads of department and their immediate line managers.

The closer the manager’s role was to the respondent, the more likely it was for the employee to answer positively. Immediate managers were trusted ‘a lot’ by 48% of those who responded and ‘a little’ by 36%. Sixteen percent of immediate managers are not trusted at all.

Working with CEOs over the years, I have found that thriving cultures are those that are purpose-driven and characterised by vitality and a growth mindset.

Organisations where leaders are purposeful and intentional and open to personal change, and where every employee has a voice and is actively engaged in living the organisation’s values, are those with thriving cultures.

Many organisations entered into this crisis with such a culture. Others were struggling. But, like the process of glass blowing, in which beautiful structures are created by manipulating molten glass in a hot furnace, we have observed healthy and resilient cultures emerge from the fires of crisis.

At their core, organisations are shadows of their leaders. Leaders who greet crisis with perspective and compassion, confront the current reality with optimism for the future, demonstrate personal resilience, and inspire that resilience among their employees are those who will make the difference.

In final summary, indeed, the necessity of maintaining trust is complemented by the behaviour of leadership during any business or economic cycle, when it becomes necessary to return to “First Principles” or the Raison D’etre of

Existence which when translated into plain English means the core of what it means to work for such organisations.

In the same manner in which government, business and personal crises threaten the character of individuals and how they respond is indicative of their personality, organizational impact is the core trust or the glue that binds the organisation, and hence, how the leadership responds determines whether the Trust intelligence has broken down or is very much in existence.

Leaders serve as role models for their followers and demonstrate the behavioural boundaries set within an organisation. The appropriate and desired behaviour is enhanced through the culture and socialisation process of the newcomers.

To conclude, leaders need to help bridge the trust gap, we recognise that organisations need to work with each other and with wider society to identify practicable, actionable steps that businesses can take to shape a new relationship with wider society: a new ‘settlement’ based on mutual understanding and a shared recognition of the positive role that business plays in people’s lives.

To create such a settlement, businesses need to see themselves as part of a diverse, interconnected, and interdependent ecosystem one that involves government, regulators, individual citizens, and more.

Trust within and across this ecosystem is key to its long-term sustainability and survival. That’s why trust needs to be restored to the heart of the business world.

As Stephen M.R. Covey once said:

“Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create.”

Trust is the Superpower for Man + Machine and Global Change

The acceleration of global integration has ushered in a new, interconnected world that defines our future.

Trust is the superpower that lays the foundation to emerge. To establish trust, leaders need to create a culture that values transparency, authenticity and the courage to fail.

We build trust through a pattern of selfless acts giving our time, attention and resources to others without the expectation of material return. Selfless acts, such as extending unexpected rewards or offering additional support during heightened times of stress, tighten our human bonds, strengthen our psychological safety and help make our sense of fear more manageable.

• Trust creates a sense of shared mission, unleashing meaningful purpose.
• Trust creates a feeling of security, unleashing resilience and collective cooperation.
• Trust facilitates healthy risk-taking and activates a growth mindset, unleashing imagination.
• Trust helps us connect as individuals, unleashing happiness and compassion.
• Trust opens the door to possibility, unleashing transformative practice.
• The speed of this innovation is accelerating and we will see even more change in the future than ever before.

The question, however, as we come to face rapidly changing realities, how do we solve for enhanced employee satisfaction, better customer experience and energetic execution of business strategy?

How do we weave long-term value creation into daily operations? Is the pace of global change sustainable?

The globalisation machine has brought great riches to those able to adapt, but left others further behind, leading to increasing inequality within countries. Another feature of globalisation is that it has bred interdependency, exposing the global population to cascading risks, from financial crises to pandemics and cyber-attacks. Our actions now affect others in ways that were unimaginable in a disconnected world.

Notwithstanding, humans don’t just have the ability to adapt. They have the power to assess, process, and grow. Flourishing in the face of change requires mutual trust, a mindset open to possibility and ongoing practice both on the individual and corporate levels.

We now live in a world where virtually anyone can bring about mass destruction. Cyber has become the new nervous system and will become ever more vulnerable as the internet-of-things technology sees explosive growth. New technologies also threaten the very fabric of our society. An Oxford University research group says 47 percent of US jobs are vulnerable to machine intelligence and perhaps as much as 35 percent of UK jobs.

A seismic shift is underway. Thanks to new technologies that enable frequent, low-friction, customized digital interactions, companies today are building much deeper ties with customers than ever before. Instead of waiting for customers to come to them, firms are addressing customers’ needs the moment they arise—and sometimes even earlier. It’s a win-win: Through what we call connected strategies, customers get a dramatically improved experience, and companies boost operational efficiencies and lower costs.

Research has identified four effective connected strategies, each of which moves beyond traditional modes of customer interaction and represents a fundamentally new business model. These strategies have been described as; a response to desire, curated offering, coach behaviour, and automatic execution. What’s innovative here is not the technologies these strategies incorporate but the ways that companies deploy those technologies to develop continuous relationships with customers.

Most companies still interact with customers only episodically, after customers identify their needs and seek out products or services to meet them. You might call this model buy what we have.

In it, companies work hard to provide high-quality offerings at a competitive price and base their marketing and operations on the assumption that they’ll engage only fleetingly with their customers.

Let’s explore specifically the aforementioned strategies:

Respond to Desire; this strategy involves providing customers with services and products they’ve requested—and doing so as quickly and seamlessly as possible. The essential capabilities here are operational: fast delivery, minimal friction, flexibility, and precise execution.

Curated Offering; with this strategy, companies get actively involved in helping customers at an earlier stage of the customer journey: after the customers have figured out what they need but before they’ve decided how to fill that need. Executed properly, a curated-offering strategy not only delights customers but also generates efficiency benefits for companies, by steering customers toward products and services that firms can easily provide at the time. The key capability here is a personalized recommendation process. Customers who value advice—but still want to make the final decision like this approach.

Coach Behaviour; both of the previous two strategies require customers to identify their needs in a timely manner, which (being human) we’re not always good at. Coach-behaviour strategies help with this challenge, by proactively reminding customers of their needs and encouraging them to take steps to achieve their goals. Coaching behaviour works best with customers who know they need nudging. Some people want to get in shape but can’t stick to a workout regimen.

Automatic Execution; all the strategies we’ve discussed so far require customer involvement. But this last strategy allows companies to meet the needs of customers even before they’ve become aware of those needs. In an automatic-execution strategy, customers authorize a company to take care of something, and from that point on the company handles everything. The essential elements here are strong trust, a rich flow of information from the customers, and the ability to use it to flawlessly anticipate what they want. The customers most open to automatic execution are comfortable having data stream constantly from their devices to companies they buy from and have faith that those companies will use their data to fulfill their needs at a reasonable price and without compromising their privacy.

There is a revealing quote often associated with management theorist and proponent of systems thinking W. Edwards Deming: “In God we trust; others must provide data”. Deming died nearly thirty years ago, but the business world has embraced his philosophy ever more tightly since then. Today we are surrounded by astonishing amounts of data, and our ability to parse, analyze, and interpret them would likely be beyond even his far-seeing mind.

With the coming of Big Data—and the opportunity it gives for providing nuanced, ever-more personalized analysis, interpretations, and solutions to problems—it can at times seem that all future decisions will only be taken inside the ‘black box’ of the processing unit, hidden from human view and comprehension.

Increasingly we are seeing why this is not best practice. For me, all analytics should start with the human—not, as is often the case, with the data.

Twenty-five quintillion bytes of data are generated every day. That’s 25,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In this era of data abundance, it’s easy to think of these bytes as a panacea – informing policies and spurring activities to address the pandemic, climate change or gender inequality – but without the right systems in place, we cannot realize the full potential of data to advance a sustainable, equitable and inclusive future.

As our global challenges grow increasingly urgent, it is clear we need to approach data in a new way.

Business analytics should offer a structured, systematic way for leaders and teams to approach business problems. There should be systems that allow us to leverage the underlying data to support the intuition of individuals, and certainly not replace the decision-making capabilities and experience of domain experts who should be guiding the process.

It is not only organizations that need to have expertise in evaluating and analysing data. Data-driven decisions are now so prolific that we all, as individuals, have an interest in better understanding how these processes and systems operate.

There is a common misconception that recruiting an expert in data analytics or data science is going to lead to quick solutions to every problem you have. Very often the new talent with data expertise does not have the domain expertise required to fully engage with and understand these problems to begin with. Not, at any rate, at as broad and deep a level as you would need in order for them to bring about optimal and innovative solutions.

To unlock the real value of these new data analytics hires, they should be partnered with your domain experts—people with a very sharp intuition about the right questions to ask and the issues your team or organization ought really to be caring about.

In order for technology to reach its full potential, company leaders need to be transparent and instill trust for data sharing. Research by the British Science Association revealed a vast lack of trust in artificial intelligent machines, with fears of being ‘taken over’ by technology. This suspicion is a major barrier to close relationships forming between technology and humans a relationship that is needed in order for technology to work. As an example, artificial intelligence is in fact not artificial at all, it is an astute web of intelligence surfacing the most pertinent elements at the right time for the right purpose and enabling humans to make the choices that are right for them.

While some may think artificial intelligence is a long way from affecting their day to day, companies must get a handle on how best to utilise its superpowers before it’s too late. Action is the true measure of technology either taking action on our behalf because we have chosen them to do so, or informing action that we take. We’re on the cusp of a generational change in how we think about computing. While the capabilities of machines and the capabilities of humans are different, they work so much better together. The power and accuracy of AI complements the creativity and emotion of humans. Together they are more powerful than either is alone.

Final thought, with trust as the end goal, it’s crucial that the design of new technologies be fully consistent with an organization’s and community’s values. The challenge for organizations is to anticipate unexpected implications of the tools and innovations that they build and avoid reinforcing existing social inequalities, as well as consider the ethics of the elimination of existing jobs on the future workforce.

A great quote by Paul R. Daugherty, “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI”, sums up the final thought perfectly:

“The simple truth is that companies can achieve the largest boosts in performance when humans and machines work together as allies, not adversaries, in order to take advantage of each other’s complementary strengths.”

Customer trust and value – do companies undervalue their customers?

There is much debate on customer trust and do companies undervalue their customers, it was Warren Buffet who once said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

When we start to look at the customer value, this term has several definitions, any correct measure of the term should be described as customer lifetime value. Companies can increase this value by acquiring more customers. Equally, companies can destroy customer value in a variety of ways: to boost revenue, to cut labour costs and to reduce operating costs. Leadership and when reviewing the importance of customer value should make this a business priority.

Investors always ask difficult questions, however, it is widely understood the importance of customer value, many growth-stage companies preparing for an IPO or exit are in the main focused on acquiring customers that are unprofitable, but project earnings on future expected earnings from multiple products or services.

Leadership must gain and maintain the support of board members and investors by educating them about an employee based engagement program aligned to strategy. Leaders need to demonstrate to investors and board members that the decisions made will yield strong equitable returns, in the form of increased customer acquisition and retention, growing revenues, lower costs to serve and measures to improve customer value.

It is always an easy option to blame a companies short termism on shareholder pressure and a bias towards quarterly financial reporting. But managers share the blame when they fail to educate investors about the customer value their company creates or when they resort to quick profits instead of investing in long-term customer loyalty and value.

It would be irresponsible for any leader to ignore such a proven source of profitable growth. Boards and shareholders should demand that companies grow customer value, support the necessary investments, and push for new accounting standards that make the returns on these investments visible.

The true purpose of a business, Peter Drucker said, is to create and keep customers. Most managers understand this, but few behave as if they do. Under relentless earnings pressure, they often feel cornered, obliged to produce quick profits by compromising product quality, trimming services, imposing onerous fees, and otherwise short-changing their customers. This short-termism erodes loyalty, reducing the value customers create for the firm.

Any strong relationship is built on a foundation of trust and that includes the relationship between brand and customer. Whilst world events have tested that bond in many ways, it has also created an opportunity for brands to better understand customer values, make commitments that align to those values, and then deliver on their promises.

By acting with stakeholder values as their guide, brands can demonstrate trustworthiness and drive customer loyalty, employee motivation, and repeat purchases. A Deloitte survey conducted last May shows that 88% of customers who highly trust a brand have bought from that brand again, and 62% of customers who report highly trusting a brand buy almost exclusively from that brand. Meanwhile, 78% of employees who highly trust their employer also feel motivated in their jobs.

According to the “Edelman Trust Barometer,” consumer trust in businesses to “do what is right” averages only 53 percent globally. The report states that banks and other financial services firms are the least trusted industries for the second straight year. Only 45 percent of respondents trust financial services firms to do what is right. And even the best-performing industry—technology—garners the trust of only 79 percent of those surveyed worldwide. This status quo is not sustainable, from a customer or business standpoint.

The need for a trust-based relationship can’t be denied. But marketing executives who want to build customer trust have one question: How?

It starts with building a framework and guiding principles, which can be translated into specific actions for employees to take during interactions with customers. In their book The Trust Paradigm, Geoff Hudson-Searle and Mark Herbert identify six drivers of trust based on intent and competence that any organization can operationalize:

• Empathy
• Accountability
• Transparency
• Customer experience
• Employee empowerment
• Employee recognition

Building trust requires cooperation among multiple functions, including product development, information security, talent, and marketing strategy, among others. However, coordinating trust efforts across disciplines can be challenging, since different roles are responsible for different activities across the enterprise. While some functions, such as marketing strategy, have a clear owner, ownership of others, such as product road map and corporate culture, is more distributed across the C-suite.

Some companies are addressing this fragmented trust environment by establishing new roles that better encompass the multiple facets of trust, such as chief trust officer. This represents an important shift in mindset based on the acknowledgment that trust is an enterprise wide issue requiring executive-level coordination.

Organizations can take the pulse of their trust efforts by considering four components of trust, as identified by a Deloitte survey: humanity, transparency, capability, and reliability.

Together, humanity and transparency characterize a trusted brand’s messages, while capability and reliability guide that brand’s actions. Marketers can bolster trust by isolating each of these signals, identifying areas for improvement, and ensuring that brand messages match actions.

As organizations begin to address trust more holistically, marketers can help drive change by shifting the focus to values. While brands have historically considered demographics such as location, age, and gender when segmenting audiences and crafting messages, such categories are, at best, a proxy for how customers may act. By pivoting from demographic- to values-based segmenting, brands can more effectively influence customer behavior. Segmenting by values establishes an empathetic connection, which can make people more open to trusting a brand’s intentions, according to Deloitte’s Values Compass research. Further, by understanding people’s values, brands can ensure that the promises they make align with what their audiences care about most.

The Values Compass research shows that most people share some combination of eight cardinal values: ambition, trying new things, curiosity, sharing with others, belonging, caring for others, control, and learning new things. Among those values, belonging and control have risen to the forefront of many people’s minds during the pandemic, and trust is connected to control. In fact, a 2020 Deloitte study found that, across population demographics, control increased in importance by 31% after COVID-19 became widespread.

To be able to deliver on their promises and meet customers’ evolving, value-based needs, brands need to align their intentions with their actions (or competency). This depends on cooperation among all members of the C-suite—not just the CMO (or even the newly appointed chief trust officer). Here are some steps all leaders can take to steer their organizations toward more trusting relationships:

Enlist everyone. While clear functional owners exist in most organizations, securing trust requires collaboration. This means developing cross-functional teams that align on trust-related KPIs, assigning ownership for those KPIs, and developing a road map for closing the gap between intentions and competency.

Choose trust competencies wisely. How a company demonstrates trustworthiness may depend on organizational goals. If, for example, customers value transparent and ethical data usage, it may be important to incorporate straightforward messaging on how the organization will use and protect customer information.

Expand the marketer’s toolkit. It’s hard to deliver on trust when the marketing department mirrors the skills of an ad agency. Delivering holistically on trust depends on talent with a wide range of skill sets, including expertise in product development and analytics as well as a deep understanding of revenue models.

In the transformative age, with more data changing hands and more technology used in decision-making, trust is more important than ever. It’s trust that enables organizations to create value and capital markets to function properly.

With richer insights from deeper data analysis, you can look at risk afresh. You can make smarter choices, from what you should mitigate to what you can embrace. With trust comes the confidence to make bolder strategic moves. It’s trust that will help you seize the upside of disruption

With the help of technology, companies today sweep up huge amounts of customer data. But they tend to be opaque about the information they collect and often resell, which leaves their customers feeling uneasy. Though that practice may give firms an edge in the short term, in the long run it undermines consumers’ trust, which in turn hurts competitiveness.

To build trust, companies must be transparent about the data they gather and offer consumers appropriate value in exchange for it. Simple legal disclosures aren’t enough, however; companies must actively educate their customers and incorporate fairness into their products and models from the start. Companies that get this will win consumers’ goodwill and business and continued

Finally, within the C-suite, a CEO may see trust as delivering on a pledge to bring innovative products and services to the market, while the CMO may view trust in terms of brand messaging and experience. Outside of the C-suite, trust is contingent on what customers or employees and even partners value most. Regardless of the setting, trust breaks down when there’s a gap between what an organization promises and what it delivers.

With the proper tools and strategy in hand, marketers can help organizations close that gap, build a deeper bond with customers, and ensure a stronger enterprise for the future.

A great quote that provides deep insigt to the topic:

“As organizations begin to address trust more holistically, marketers can help drive change by shifting the focus to values.”

A True Christmas and New Year Message

In a year filled with global challenges and dramatic changes for everyone, we share gratitude with all our trusted colleagues, family, friends, and network, and importantly, a message to Love 146 over the Christmas period in supporting the children of the world who are less fortunate than ourselves and find themselves in a care program from devasting extremities from child exploitation and trafficking.

This Christmas time is especially poignant, as we reconnect with our loved ones, families and friends internationally. We wish you a very happy, harmonious and safe holiday season and let us look forward to a positive new year in 2023.

May peace fill all the empty spaces around you, your family and your friends and your colleagues at this special time of year, and in you, may contentment answer all your wishes.

Raise a toast to yesterday’s achievements and tomorrow’s brighter future.

May comfort be yours, warm and soft like a sigh.

And may the coming year show you that every day is really a first day and a new year.

Let abundance be your constant companion so that you have much to share.

May mirth be near you always, like a lamp shining brightly on the many paths you travel.

Work with the best of your abilities in 2023 and show to the world your power to create wonderful and superior things.

New Year 2023 may turn out to be a year when you are put on the road to everlasting success, love and prosperity.

Be the change that you wish to see at your workplace and take initiatives to make things better.

Wish your tomorrow is more prosperous, happy and successful than yesterday and today.

Looking forward to another year with hunger and passion to exceed at work and you are sure to meet with success.

Let new beginnings signify a new chapter filled with pages of success and happiness, written by the ink of hard work and intelligence.

May the New Year bring us more wonderful opportunities for success.


Technophobia – are CEOs asking the right questions?

There is fear of technology has been around for as long as technology itself, and like technology itself, this fear is always changing in this new disruptive world.
There is strong evidence of “technophobia” the technical name for this affliction in every age and in every part of the world.

This technophobia is making it hard for chief executives to trust their chief information officers.

Blame technophobia or just bad experiences. But now that information technology has become the linchpin for an organization’s success, CEOs are asking, “How do we make this work?”

CEOs of the world’s largest companies are struggling to keep pace with the impact of digital technology and many are being left behind, placing their corporations at risk in the medium to longer term. Their own senior teams also lack basic IT skills and understanding, without which they cannot steer their corporations into the next millennium. Despite this, corporations are failing to address the problem.

Technology continues to move forward at an alarming pace but a large number of CEOs are failing to mobilise their companies to take advantage of these technological leaps and bounds. Why?

It seems that the link between organisational growth and innovative technology is being disregarded by CEOs. They prefer to ignore the importance of this function rather, perhaps, than admit their own ignorance. You could argue that many CEOs simply don’t have the time to learn how IT fits into the organisation in the same way as marketing, HR and finance do. The latter functions often appear to involve more common sense, perhaps. IT is new and uncharted territory, and this could potentially explain why the IT function remains so isolated from the rest of the organisation.

We frequently encounter business leaders who consider their ignorance of basic technology as being perfectly acceptable. As a traditional business leader why trouble yourself with the technology as long as it works?

But today every sphere of business is impacted by technology, and the success of these businesses is often determined by the way technology is integrated and utilised. The unfortunate truth is that if you cannot engage in meaningful dialogue around how technology is used in your business, at best, you are missing an opportunity and at worst, you are simply not doing your job.

Understanding how to get the best return on investment is vital given the current volatile economic climate. CEOs appear to have great instincts about how their business generates a return from investing in a marketing project or new product offering.

They also understand the importance of careful accounting and financial management. But, installing a new customer-facing application or enabling their workforce with a new device?

It does not resonate in the same way. This, despite overwhelming evidence that the right technological solutions can dramatically reduce costs, drive up efficiency and streamline work flows.

Technophobia at board level is often driven by past experiences of financial overruns, late delivery, wide-scale business disruption and low user satisfactions. While some level of apprehension is justifiable and sensible, significant change has taken place over the past few years to make the situation less intimidating. These include:

* Less risk: Over the last ten years, we have moved away from coding to configuration. This means that software packages are much less risky to develop. Even better, software packages can now be hosted by a partner (so called ‘Software as a Service’ or SaaS) meaning that capital and operational costs are vastly reduced and risks made much more manageable.

* Easy deployment: Technology can now be rolled out more easily. The technical innovations of the past were expensive and slow to develop. Today innovation cycles are shortened. The implication is that rather than paying for leading edge research and development, businesses can adopt a safer ‘fast follower’ strategy and remain highly effective.

* Standardisation: Greater adoption of standards have allowed an explosion of devices. These devices are able to communicate with each other because of common standards in telecommunications, hardware and software.

* Ubiquitous data networks: There are few places in the world where a customer or an employee cannot get access to decent broadband or mobile networks. Data speeds are increasing with technologies like 5G and future advancements will further improve what is already a great experience for most users.

Ex-Googler Jessica Nordlander, recently named Sweden’s Most Innovative Leader by Scandinavian management and leadership magazine Chef, believes it comes down to accepting change as a constant, something chief technology officers (CTOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) are always working with and against.

Nordlander, chief operating officer of Canadian company Thoughtexchange, a crowd conversation tool for leaders, says: “How future leaders utilise technology will be integral to whether they succeed or they don’t.

“There is still a feeling in many organisations that at some point digital transformation can and will be complete. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Future CEOs will need to be very comfortable with constant change.

“Current seismic shifts are blowing up longstanding practices and established prejudices. The move towards non-conventional workforces presents a unique opportunity where strategic use of technology can be exponentially valuable for leaders.”

New research from software company VMware suggests this could become a growing trend. It found 69 per cent of UK business leaders believe executive leadership positions should be filled by people with technology career backgrounds in order to be successful. Some 33 per cent of those it questioned also reported their firm had experienced improved business performance as a result of elevating those with such backgrounds into leadership roles.

One reason many see success in this way forward is because the CTO’s role is very strategic, looking at how technology accelerates revenues, lowers costs and improves customer experience, all key things a CEO must be concerned about.

CTOs also understand the importance of technology in business process transformation, how to use it to achieve a fast return on investment (ROI), and they are used to taking projects from a low level of maturity to scale.

It could also be argued that CEOs with a technology background may also be less inclined to make rushed or poor decisions during times of crisis, for example the coronavirus pandemic, when long-planned technology investment could be one of the first casualties of cutbacks in order to shore up the status quo instead.

CEOs must be able to ask the right questions

And with predictions that the next 30 years of business change will be even more rapid and far reaching than the past three decades, CEOs now have to face their incumbency being overtaken by technology-first challengers. That’s why Dr James Berry, MBA director at University College London, believes technological knowledge is vital for the future CEO.

Finally, the speed of change in the commercial world is largely associated with information technology and electronic commerce. Businesses which do not embrace current technology and anticipate the likely scope of future IT will lose out to their rivals. Directors who fail to appreciate the role and nature of technology in their businesses cannot hope to make informed decisions about future investment policy.

It seems bizarre that CEOs would make crucial decisions about the direction of their businesses without understanding the impact of technology.

Of course, many directors justify their aversion to technology by claiming that IT is insecure, it is important the board gatekeepers of access to their deliberations, even the masters of their own secrecy, and previous aversions begin to disappear.

There is a great quote by Bill Gates that states:

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

It’s nearly Christmas – have we Learned from our Lessons in Love?

According to Global social media statistics research summary 2022 almost three quarters of people expect relationship pressures this Christmas, a poll by charity Relate found that 73% of people aged 16 and over in the UK are expecting something to place pressure on their relationships during the festive season.

The average person uses social media for two hours and 27 minutes every day. That’s over five years of your life spent scrolling, posting, and liking. Given that social media has become so ingrained in daily life, it’s really no wonder that it is now a potential source of tension and conflict in relationships.

“You won’t develop a strong sense of trust if the only time you spend together is sharing TikToks.”

It’s not all bad news. Social media may positively impact relationships in a number of ways. It’s not uncommon to see friends and family post adoring photos of their partner with a lovey-dovey caption to boot. While there are some days when this is the last thing you want to see on your feed, small messages like this projected to a whole network of friends may put a smile on your loved one’s face.

It all comes down to being acknowledged, according to Shore Research. “They need to be noticed, they need to know that they matter, and social media can be a wonderful way of doing that in terms of posting small messages, little videos, something that tells that person that they are on your mind and they are on your mind in a very fond way.” Still, Shore Research notes that face-to-face communication can’t be beaten, concluding, “The reality is this: You can’t touch someone over a cell phone.”

Real connection is more than just talking to others or sharing interests. After all, we can talk for over an hour with someone about sports or politics, even if we secretly can’t stand them.

More profound than mere conversation, true connection can happen without words and with someone we don’t even know. On the other hand, constant contact, such as working with someone every day, is no guarantee of actual connection. Connecting with others is a sense of being open and available to another person, even as you feel they are open and available to you. Other ingredients of human connection are empathy and compassion – we feel goodwill to the person we are connecting with.

Trust is the foundation for love. It’s natural over time for feelings of love and connection to fluctuate. Every relationship has emotional dry spells, but trust is consistent and is the foundation that a solid relationship is built on.

Revealing your true self to someone, whether it’s your deepest fears or your weird snacking habits, means putting yourself out there. It’s not an easy ask of you or your partner, but having a foundation of trust in a relationship does make being vulnerable a little easier as “we get to be our authentic selves, our partner gets to be their authentic selves, and as a result, we get to connect authentically,”

When we start to look at relationships, no matter how much time has elapsed or how many relationships you’ve had since, it’s hard to truly forget your first love. Your first love is always going to be special to you, no matter how old you are or how many people you date. It was your first experience with love and the memories of that’ll stay with you all your life.

Falling in love with someone for the first time is a life-changing experience. When it’s the first time you’ve ever felt so strongly about another person, it can be truly devastating to have all of that end. If you’re wondering how to get over your first love, even years later.

If you spend enough time reading advice columns, you notice a pattern. In the stream of sorrows and quandaries and relationship angst, one word bubbles up again and again. First. My first love.

My first time. My first ever. And unlike all the relationships that came after, with this one, the past can’t seem to stay in the past.

Love is always special, but your first love moves you in a way that is inherently unique. It introduces you to feelings you have never had before, for better or for worse, and is accompanied by a sense of wonder, intrigue, and excitement. Even though your first love may not have lasted, it will be a part of who you are for the rest of your life.

When we think about our first love, there is a mixture of emotions we all feel which can be hard to explain. But why, even though our first love may have happened 5, 10, 15, or even 50 or more years ago, do a lot of us still think about it today?

But why? Why should this one lodge in our brains any differently than the others, even when the others were longer, better, more right? They just weren’t quite as intense as the first.

The scientific research on this topic is thin, but the collective wisdom among psychologists says it’s a lot like skydiving. Meaning, you’ll remember the first time you jumped out of an airplane much more clearly than the 10th time you took the leap.

“Your first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences,” explains Art Aron, a psychology professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook who specializes in close relationships. “Presumably there’d be more arousal and excitement, especially if it’s somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary — you’re afraid you’ll be rejected, you’re afraid you won’t live up to their expectations, afraid they won’t live up to yours. Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time.”

The trust deficit is fueling the human experience gap. For all of us who share a zeal to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, we can’t rest until we bridge that gap.

We all have experiences to share, some of you may have read my first book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’. This book was published in 2014 and took me three years to write.


One of my favourite quotes by Tamie Dearen, from her book ‘The Best Match’:

“Love is such a small word for what I feel. For the first time in my life, I have a reason to breathe. I’m enchanted with every part of you I know, and I only know a small part so far. I plan to spend the rest of my life searching out every hidden enchantment in your body and soul. And I’m going to cherish and protect you with every fiber of my being. So, do I love you? No… I love love love you.”

The IBEM Executive Thought Leadership Forum and Launch of the The Trust Paradigm Book

This week marked a proud milestone with the launch of my 6th and final book: ‘The Trust Paradigm’. We launched the book in conjunction with the “IBEM Executive Thought Leadership Forum” in London at Freeths LLP.

We would like to thank our sponsors at Freeths LLP and all the support Stewart Elliston and his team provided in making this event possible.
Keynote speakers and thought leadership was delivered by Mark Herbert – my co-author on the book; Douglas Lines; my co-Director in IBEM, Karen Jones, CEO of Denison Consulting; Luke Dixon, Partner of Freeths LLP on Data Security; Dan Ilett, CEO of Tollejo in his expert capacity as event moderator.

More about the speakers and the image-gallery: Trust Paradigm – Booklaunch – Nov. 2022

We would like to thank all our guests at the event who traveled internationally and nationally to attend the event.

Download the PDF with Event Slides: The IBEM Executive Thought Leadership Forum and Official Launch of The Trust Paradigm

Download the PDF with official invite: Executive Thought Leadership Invite

The Executive Thought Leadership Forum has been in our sights for some time: businesses, particularly in leadership, need to navigate a different course and see the global
economy through a different lens – change is speeding up – change is not a phase, change is constant.

The event covered senior executive thought leadership presentations across design thinking, business model innovation, innovation, corporate culture, trust, business risk and datasecurity.

Trust directly influences the actions and outcomes of business every day. By embedding trust in a company’s business, leaders generate value for their stakeholders and society more broadly now and in the future. Trust between employer and employee and among employees enhances human capital investment.

This event launched my new book, together with Mark Herbert: The Trust Paradigm.

At the event, trust was discussed as the foundation of healthy relationships. At its core, trust is the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another. It is an expectation that two parties will act in a way that is mutually beneficial. For these reasons, trust is a key element of effective communication, teamwork, employee commitment and productivity. It leads to stronger working relationships and a healthier organizational culture.

We know that trust is the glue that holds teams together and creates positive, productive workplaces. But how much trust do you have in your professional and personal relationships? And how do you build more trust if it’s lacking?

Trust is the currency of leadership. When you have established trust with the people around you, you are a more effective and efficient leader.

You will be more effective because you will encounter less resistance to your ideas and will be able to achieve results faster. You will also be more efficient because you will be able to produce these results using less of your time and energy.

Every interaction we have with another person is either placing a deposit or making a withdrawal in their emotional bank account. When you make regular deposits, it creates a positive balance, and there is trust. When we make too many withdrawals, we become overdrawn, which results in distrust.

When you follow the rules within for this strategy and take action using the universal deposits, you will build a solid foundation of credibility and trust as a mindful leader.

Because of the inherent vulnerability involved in trusting relationships, it is widely understood that trust must be earned. This is true whether it is between two colleagues, a manager and employee, or even between an employee and the organization at large. In some instances, it can be hard to build and sustain because individuals may not be aware of the unintentional ways that they have broken trust with their colleagues.

Trust helps to make challenging conversations easier, teams more integrated and employees more engaged. Exploring ways in which trust can be built can help individuals and companies create stronger relationships and healthier cultures.

Trust within organisations boosts productivity and employee engagement, helps leaders and teams to focus on what is important and reduces friction. Furthermore, while an issue of cross-generational relevance, organisational trust is particularly important to the younger members of the workforce: millennials and members of Gen Z. Transparency, enablement and a culture of trust boost their loyalty and commitment, while a lack thereof can be a primary reason to leave an employer.

Therefore, building trust within organisations is not only key to withstanding current challenges, but will pay off in the future. To inspire decision-makers to lead with the next generation in mind, leaders have more work to do to leverage the power of trust in their organisations, and this presents the opportunity for new paradigms.

A few key thoughts:

• Trust is fundamental to a healthy organizational culture. Each organization must choose whether to earn a trust dividend or pay a trust-tax.
• Every organization has a culture. The best organizations invest in shaping and nurturing their culture.
• People follow leaders. Compliance-based organizations that do not invest in trust are losing trillions annually.
• Leadership and trust are earned, not an entitlement.
• One toxic manager can poison an organization and your culture is determined by the behaviors your reward and tolerate. Choose carefully.

Download free chapters 7 & 10 from the book: PDF

Get your copy at these great stores: BUY ‘The Trust Paradigm’


The Pathway to The Trust Paradigm

London Live – News At 6 – 19th October 2022