It’s a shame business books are so pathetic.  The plethora of poorly-written, tedious books will make you want to take up some other more worthy form of education, like watching YouTube.

There’s one book that cannot be lumped into the same category.  Stephen M. R. Covey’s “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything” is worth buying, reading, and re-reading.  It should be put on B-Schools’ required reading lists.

Covey, the son of famous 7-Habits Stephen R. Covey, comes up with a new look at trust, one of the most fundamental elements in relationships and societies.  He tackles the subject in five “waves”.

  1. Self Trust – How do we measure up to the commitments we make to ourselves?  If we cannot trust ourselves to meet those commitments, how can we (or rather why should we) expect others to trust us?
  2. Relationship Trust – Relies on consistent and predictable behavior.  When dealing with someone else, whether spouse, child, parent, etc. they can trust you when you behave in predictable ways.
  3. Organizational Trust – Covey calls this alignment.  By working together with internal stakeholders to arrive at common objectives, organizations can reduce inefficiencies caused by distrust and maximize benefits from trust.
  4. Market Trust – In this wave, the book examines external stakeholders.  The relationship might be between customer and company or brand.  If you have market trust, customers extend the benefit of the doubt if your brand stumbles.
  5. Societal Trust – Perhaps the most difficult to achieve, this lofty goal sets forth “the principles of contribution and global citizenship”.

The most intriguing idea in the book is that trust can be intentionally developed.  No Pollyanna, Covey distinguishes among points along the trust continuum (distrust, “smart trust”, and blind trust).

The pivot point is that trust can change everything.  To quote from the powerful opening chapter of the book:

“… nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.  Nothing is as fulfilling as a relationship of trust.  Nothing is as inspiring as an offering of trust.  Nothing is as profitable as the economics of trust.  Nothing has more influence than a reputation of trust.”

Covey’s book is worth a read, trust me!

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