The newspapers and financial journals trumpet a major US car manufacturer’s return of borrowed money to US taxpayers as a big win for the taxpayer. But what they don’t follow up on is the rest of the story of the breach of process and trust that same manufacturer may have engaged in when it walked away from untold billions in bondholder money, not to mention pensions damaged and stock values destroyed for hundreds of thousands of people and businesses.
That used to be acceptable. But the network knows your secrets. Even if the formerly respected organs of the media decline politely to surface uncomfortable facts (we only report the news, we don’t analyze it…. – and aren’t sins of omission palatable when those of commission are not?), social networks grab the headlines and tweak the noses of both media and manufacturer with a different reality.
Hiding, skating atop, papering over the facts used to be much easier, but a new reality is out there: better to be more self-critical and earn back trust than show the peacock feathers of hubris all over again and get slammed by online communities.
Social networks have eclipsed media networks as sources of the truth. They are also quickly stepping in to establish/reinforce/destroy your brand. For most of us in business, or in government, or in higher education, we need to rethink our engagement with informal communication networks.
Trust qua Trust lives, but as something unearned and taken for granted it is only a memory. Customer relationships have never been more important, nor have their intricacies ever been as complex.