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Views from the Prairie

June 21

Who Can We Trust for the Truth?

Lately, there have been numerous arguments between people - sometimes in the checkout lanes. All sorts of claims have been made. How can we know which claims are true or if any of them are true? As business people, we know that we are at a disadvantage if we believe something that is not true. Those that find the truth first can make more money. We need to know who to trust to tell us truth.

Right now, our society is struggling with how to identify the truth. Today, nearly anyone can post a story on the internet and have it spread around the world in a flash. After one election, it turned out that a lot of crazy stories had been made up by some teenaged boys in Eastern Europe simply as "click bait."

Business needs reliable news sources and reliable claim checking. Business needs to have provable truth, not fantasy claims by just anyone. Business needs a way to check stories on the Internet.

There are three ways people find truth: accepting what a political leader says, reading what an authority has written, or finding a way to test claims. Since few of us know how to test claims well, most of us are either ascribing to a political stance or accepting what someone else has written. Right now, nearly anyone can write a book and get it published on Amazon. How do we know if this writing has truth?

A long time ago, power was the way that truth was determined. Religious authorities could make a proclamation and people would have to believe that or die. Many people still act as if such power is the only truth. (One US senator claimed that "truth" was 51 votes.) Thus, we see quite a number of people treating current issues simply as political conflicts and act as if their adherence to a power will protect them from any infection. There are accounts of people insisting till their dying breath that they could not have Covid-19 as "that disease didn't exist."

Throughout history, people have been making up stories and passing them off as truth. It took a while for society to learn how to identify if a book was true, or if a paper published true stories. We now know that headlines such as "I'm carrying an alien baby" are fantasies to sell papers.

Normally, this type of struggle could continue through a generation or two until our children make their own determination based on what they observed growing up. However, a pandemic makes the issue far more vital and needing to be solved faster.

Business needs more than teenaged boys making up stories. Business needs news services where editors demand investigation and reputable sources. Business needs scientists who allow others to check their work and verify the claims. We cannot allow fantasy stories put us at a disadvantage either in our health or in the marketplace.

Truth often has been trampled by political movements, short term economic trends, and armies. Yet, over the centuries, truth wins out.

Building a trust organization

How strong is your team? Do people trust each other enough to bring mistakes, failures, and missed goals to the team or are all those hidden away and people are fired when the failures are found out? When team members are reprimanded and fired for missing goals, team trust is destroyed. Rebuilding the team after everyone has been remote requires more work.

Do we want trust in our team? Some people like the conflict. But teams where people have strong trust in each other are proving to out perform their peers and often by a wide margin. Team trust is becoming a strong competitive advantage.

So, how do we build trust within a team?

The starting point has to be building a safe place where mistakes can be honestly shared. Top management may need to change how they react to issues. But, unless mistakes can be safely shared, they won't be. While leadership competition for resources is normal, the team also needs mutual respect. Anyone who belittles other team members is destroying the team.

The next step is honesty and company vision. Honest communication of the company vision from the top is the starting point. We want to have people who believe in the vision - a vision that is far more than simply making money. People today want to be part of some effort to make our country and our planet a better place to live.

With the remote work and hybrid work environments, people have been stressed out. Honestly listening to their concerns and working with them will help bring the team back together again.

Risky World

There have been several high profile "ransomware" attacks. The bad news is that even among the companies that have paid the ransom, few get all of their data back. Forbes says that 92% don't get all back. Part of the problem is because multiple gangs may infiltrate at the same time. When only one is paid, the other gangs don't give their part of the data back.


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