The Speed of Trust (2006) is about the importance of trust and how it can improve all aspects of our lives, from personal relationships to productivity in the office. Trust improves communication, and in doing so, speeds up efficiency and lowers cost at the same time. Throughout this book, the authors offer us tips on exactly what to do to increase trust in our lives.
Pick up a newspaper and you’ll immediately be confronted by headlines about fading trust in banks, corporations and relationships. Trust affects everything. But what is it exactly and how does it affect us so much?
Trust can be defined as the confidence you have in someone.
When you trust others, you feel assured in their abilities to do something, such as paying back that $100, or staying faithful to you in a partnership.
Trust is beneficial to us, as it facilitates good communication. For example, it’s far easier to understand someone when you trust them. You’ve probably experienced times when your best friend (whom you trust) understands what you’re saying even when you aren’t speaking clearly. Conversely, you’ll find it harder to understand what people you’re not so familiar with are talking about, even if they’re speaking in plain terms.
Aside from our friendships, if we can achieve trust through improved communication, it’s excellent for business.
Interestingly, trust enables us to do things more quickly at a lower cost. This is known as the economics of trust. For example, before 9/11, it took Americans 30 minutes to get through airport security for national flights. After 9/11, as trust rapidly declined, security clearance required an hour and a half. Due to the fear of terrorist attacks (lowered trust), everything started to take longer (lowered speed), and as a result, expenses for security machines and personnel rose (increased costs).
So we see that the traditional economic formula of strategy x execution = results is inadequate. An element of trust must be added, and this comes in two forms.
One is a trust tax, for relationships experiencing waning trust. Another is a trust dividend, if there’s a high level of trust. The formula then would be (strategy x execution) x trust = results.
So in the airport security line, the equation would therefore involve a trust tax, which would lead to a slower, less efficient end process.
Distrust generates many problems.