Trading trust | Seth’s Blog

The Brookings Institution did a fascinating survey series over the last five years.

I have two takeways from this:

The first is that focused and persistent propaganda is able to shift public opinion about institutions they don’t have direct interaction with.

The more important one is this: Many companies, particularly tech ones, are deliberately trading trust for short-term profits.

Amazon and many other companies went from investing heavily in being reliable, trustworthy and fair to taking persistent steps to trade these valuable assets for quarterly results. It’s worth being clear about this–they did this intentionally. They decided that the confidence consumers had placed in them wasn’t worth as much as the shortcuts they could take to increase profits instead.

While the survey focuses on widely known, large institutions, the same could be said for the local pizzeria.

Once you burn some trust, it’s almost impossible to earn it back. It took Harvard 400 years to become Harvard, Google about twenty to earn its position. This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for–to become the one that earns the benefit of the doubt.

Being the low-trust option is hardly a spot worth fighting for.

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