The banking and security industries may be able to take a lesson from social media users. Determining your trust management network before you need it could help mitigate major problems.
Last week, I heard several “financial people” within US and UK discussing on the news that the daily “billion dollar loans” between banks have nearly come to a halt. Interest rates are lower, but if nobody trusts anyone for the billion or two that normally slide between banks, the credit market has–to put it gently–issues. While I’m not a financial person, nor do I play one on YouTube, the larger issue of trust management transcends finances.
The late Dr. N.S. Sri Sridharan and I spoke in 2002 about how knowledge management and trust management were both required for either to succeed. After the first eight hours, the folks at a Cambridge, MA Starbucks gently asked us to leave. No kidding. We didn’t leave. We just kept ordering and discussing when and how trust management would gain its public profile.
A little background: Sri was a humorous visionary with numerous thought-provoking articles on artificial intelligence. He had served as the Chief Architect of Knowledge Management for Intel and was active in Technology Initiatives for Peace. He observed that the business problems in implementing any form of knowledge management would not be technology. Rather, as many are slowly realizing, businesses would fail to develop a new culture that would reward knowledge capture and reuse, including an evaluation of system and interpersonal trust.
Before computer networks, people had a circle of trust with people they knew at work or their neighborhood. “Hey, he’s good for it.” “Yeah, she knows what she’s talking about.” This was trust.
By the mid 90s, the now-called “digital natives” were just starting to develop a circle of trust with others on instant messaging platforms. High school students, especially in the northeast and northwest US were using instant messaging and group chat tools to form study groups and form advanced trust management circles. This frequently started with students that were very involved in activities and taking advanced classes. They had no time to spare, and results were paramount.
The norm in many of these groups was not the creation of a “popularity chat” (which may have been occurring at other times), but a “meritocracy chat.” Your invitation was based on your ability to add value to the group. I observed several of these groups, and it was clear that intelligence was fast becoming a valued commodity at an earlier age.
Sri believed that there were four key elements required to make this knowledge transfer successful:
- an open transfer of honest communication and knowledge;
- reputation management;
- team-setting the priority of goals;
- rewards and punitive actions and measurement of engagement of the users.
These groups had developed all of these elements and without adult supervision.
Today, trust and reputation management is evolving into the public conscious. Those involved in social media sites as Facebook, and especially microblogging sites like Twitter know the importance these values – and they are values.
Many understand that “brand management” is now an individual responsibility issue. There is a growing realization that whatever goes online is there forever. This forces middle and secondary students to decide on a “brand” – what do they want the world to see.
Clearly, the business world doesn’t have trust nor reputation management down yet, and neither do a lot of the students. But it is somewhat amazing how many do understand the idea of personal branding. They are careful what they say, and to whom, online. They have developed a trust management circle and a public identity. It should be interesting to see who gets it right first, business or the kids. By the way, the kids are winning.
Wayne Kurtzman is a senior marketing analyst who loves the shiny toys of technology and online communities. Wayne also is active at the international level of Destination ImagiNation, a not-for-profit organization that fosters teamwork, innovation and creative problem solving skills in students from kindergarten through college.