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January 2003    Main Feature
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No. 69
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Valuing Trust:
Knowledge Leaders Air Their Views

Debra M. Amidon

As I write this the World Economic Forum (WEF) is meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It has heralded the year 2003 as the year of Trust. A recent Gallup Poll survey commissioned by WEF (see 'Trust in Decline', I3 UPDATE No. 68) highlighted the decline of people's trust in institutions of all types.

Now, I know there has been considerable hype on this topic, and for many, it may seem like an over-used term. But I believe that this is first time, to my knowledge, that a credible organization - convening the corporate intelligencia of the world - has embraced such an agenda. Further, I believe that with the current ethics malaise and the economic paralysis, I believe that the time is ripe for addressing the challenges of integrity, learning and collaboration. A quick scan of interviews with knowledge leaders featured in the Global Knowledge Leadership Map identified some common themes:

1. Trust is Crucial for Value Creation and Knowledge Sharing

  • "Soft facts, such as trust and reliability, will become the crucial variables in the game of high value added projects." (Manfred BORNMANN - Austria)

  • "Challenge is getting beyond the global zero-sum game of any economy built upon material assets." (Christian KURTZKE - Germany)

  • "Information Systems play a major role in helping organizations develop supportive collaborative processes and to create organizational outreach - what they do not do in isolation is change a culture...much of work in this field must start on culture change first otherwise we go no where fundamentally...trust is so critical for knowledge harvesting." (Cindy M. GORDON, Canada)

  • "Cultural change and management commitments are the two challenges I experienced in application of Knowledge Management. Big political scandals in Turkey during 1998 have caused "trust" to be the biggest concern in daily life. Hence, establishing the team understanding and convincing employees for knowledge sharing had trade-offs. Besides, most of the companies are still run by family hierarchies in Turkey. Technology companies are the pioneers for organic restructuring." (Gulgun KAYAKUTLU - Turkey)

  • "The values of trust based on loyalty are perverted by the Western financial system into "cronyism". The same system corrupts the idea of fairness into non-caring, rule-based transaction. The trend towards creating knowledge communities seems to be an intelligent response to both problems. (Jan WYLLIE - UK)

2. Common Wealth Needs Connectivity, Collaboration and Social Cohesion

  • "Knowledge is active based upon your own subjective beliefs. Information is transient; but knowledge is eternal. Knowledge is about aspiring to truth, goodness and beauty." (Ikujiru NONAKA - Japan)

  • "This seems to be a road with no end. The more is done...the more is needed. It is a never ending story that keeps us alive...and working for being useful to others." (Elana GRANELL - Venezuela)

  • "I trust that knowledge and competence will be the single most important source of competitive advantage in the 21st century. But I also fear what will happen if we don't manage to create the necessary social cohesion. That's why we work on developing a counterpart to the World Competitiveness Index (IMD): The World Cohesion Index." (Lars KOLIND, Denmark)

  • "The invisible hand of the market must be accompanied by an invisible handshake - connectivity and trust-led businesses." (Piero FORMICA - Italy)

  • "It is a great mistake competing to defeat someone. Destroying one of us may lead to destroying all." (Konstantin GOLUBEV - Ukraine)

  • "A world without nations, just human beings working for the common wealth." (Gerardo CALDERON - Mexico)

3. Innovation Has Social and Moral Dimensions

  • "Power of local knowledge often heralds changes that are unthinkable in conventional terms... creating innovative ICT models for better local governance and enhanced quality of life." (Vikas NATH - India)

  • "Confluence of technological opportunity, moral responsibility, and economic necessity demand that we create such a world...both individual and community levels." (George POR - US/France/UK)

4. High security is an indicator of low trust

  • "A belief in security depends on a belief in control. The need for security increases as the level of trust decreases, and vice versa. In an open knowledge environment, both control and security are much more difficult, if not impossible to enforce. Under these conditions, relationships must be based on mutual trust, rather than relying "trusted" third party intermediaries. A good reputation among other interested parties is the key factor when it comes to building trust." (Jan WYLLIE, UK)

5. Valuing People

  • "Knowledge Economy vision: environments where people will feel valued because others truly want to know their stories; organizations based on trust. Greatest challenges? Growing in patience; learning to trust a process rather than seeing "immediate" results; allowing my own children and my employees to be exactly who they are with no judgment attached." (Karen SPEERSTRA - USA)

  • "Think in terms of "verbs" and not "nouns." Instead of just value, use "valuing," instead of "team" use "teaming, and instead of "trust" use "trusting." The secrete key to the Knowledge Economy is "ing," because it turns our Cartesian nouns into living verbs. It also embodies the "I" that can discover itself in communities of other "Is", as we remember and anticipate and engage with one another both intellectually and emotionally." (Charles SAVAGE - Germany)

And there is more...much more! These are documented comments from the interviews. Our plan is to have ENTOVATION's Knowledge Leaders discuss this topic and give new insights into this important topic. Your interest is welcome and your comments welcome.


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