Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"The Speed of Trust" Review

This is probably not a book I would have picked out on my own other than I've never really been disappointed with a Covey book (albeit all the others I have read have been by Stephen R. Covey whereas this one is authored by his son).  I won this at a training seminar and decided to give it a whirl.  Overall it is a worthwhile read, although it does get a bit repetitive and at times long winded.

In general, it is clear that this book is written by the son of the 7-Habits guru.  Many of the principles are the same but with different names and slightly different applications.  For this reason I struggled to really get into the book.  Having read most of Covey Sr.'s other works, I felt like I had already read this book.  However, the book does a good job at explaining how trust is established, how it can be damaged, how it can be repaired, and importantly, how it affects everything we do in our relationships.  Also, although the book is strongly oriented for a business audience, Covey takes the time to discuss how trust is critical in our family relationships as well.

One of the most beneficial sections of the book for me was Covey's discussion of corporate citizenship.  For me, this helped me clarify some of my own opinions about appropriate economic behavior.  Covey refers to the corporate scandals by Enron and WorldCom in 2002 that severely damaged the general trust in big business.  It was a revelation of how focused corporations had become on profit and how prevalent greed, fraud, and other low-trust behaviors had become.  Something I struggle with is how important business has become again during the slow economy.  In my work I constantly hear how important it is to be business friendly, create jobs, and do everything I can to help grow the economy.  I fine with all of that. But sometimes I ask myself why it is so important.  Why is the ability to make money so high on our priority list.  A quote in Covey's book from Tachi Kiuchi, former managing director for Mitsubishi Electronics.  He said:

People talk about businesses needing to be resopnsible as if it's something new we need to do on top of everything else.  But the whole essance of business should be responsibility.  My philosophy is "We don't run companies to earn profits, we eaern profits to run companies."  Our companies need meaning and purpose if they're to fit into the world, or why should they live at all?
What an important concept!  It's not just about money, it's about meaning.  Covey also points out that Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations and father of capitalism taught the importance of virtue in economics from the very beginning.

(Adam Smith) taught that "intentional virtue" was foundational to a prosperous economy, and that when a critical mass of people competed for their own best interests within the framework of intentinoal virtue, there was an "unseen hand" that would guide society in a way that would create prosperity and wealth for all.
During the alst part of the twentieth century, however, teh "intentional virtue" part somehow got left out, and the message was fatally diluted: "If you simply compete in the marketplace, the 'unseen hand' will guide the creation of wialth."  This dilution led to a massive violation of the 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors--to greed, materialism, fraud, falsification, duplicity, and skyrocketing low-trust taxes.
What this clarified for me is that business has responsibility too.  We don't have to bow to business just because they create wealth.  Just as a human being should give meaning to his/her life by being involved, contributing to society, "paying it forward," or however you choose to say it, business should have meaning as well.  On its own this helps establish trust and ease tension between business and the public.  

In the end, if you enjoy self-improvement books, organizational theory, or are looking for help in improving your credibility and strengthening your relationships, this is a worthwhile read.

Favorite quote from the book: "Rules cannot substitute for character."  Alan Greenspan

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