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Community trust in the traditional pillars of industry is at an all-time low, creating big headaches for enterprise managers and their service providers.

There is a mantra commonly used for contemporary applications development: build fast, fail fast, fix the problem, and move on. This makes a lot of sense for agile systems development, but there are some practical challenges in sectors where community trust has diminished. Sometimes failure is just bad practice, no matter how fast the recovery is achieved. It is not only about "fail fast" but also about "learn fast."

Community surveys around the world are delivering a consistent message about an evaporation of trust.

  • Drawing on years of survey data, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reported an implosion of trust across key industry sectors, such as business, media, government, and NGOs. The report noted: “Trust has declined broadly, a phenomenon not reported since Edelman began tracking trust among this segment in 2012. With the fall of trust, the majority of respondents now lack full belief that the overall system is working for them”.

  • Other survey data carries a similar message. Drawing on data dating back to 1958, Pew Research Center in 2017 reported a historic low in public confidence in the US government. Public confidence had dropped from a high of 77% at the end of the Kennedy administration to an astonishing 18% at the end of 2017.

Today, the community is far more digitally literate, and has a growing understanding of how to differentiate risk. For example, the risks associated with information published to friends on social networks is quite different to information gathered by banks, financial institutions, government, healthcare, and critical utilities. The diminishment of trust in these key sectors has significant implications for individuals and for the community at large. The community is growing increasingly concerned about trust in these sectors.

Trust is easy to lose and difficult to restore. Today, risk assessments are a routine part of good corporate governance. However, the risks associated with trust are difficult to assess because the implications can quietly accumulate over time and can then erupt later in unexpected ways. In Australia, for example, the financial services sector is currently feeling the blowtorch of inquisition as the Banking Royal Commission forensically unpicks systemic failures that have accumulated over many years. Evidence given to the commission has already impacted the share price of some institutions and there is a possibility of criminal proceedings against individual managers. The most significant implications, however, are yet to be felt as trust evaporates, making way for what might be a very different future regulatory environment. It would have been so much easier to put a value on community trust, and to build it into the underlying governance of each enterprise.

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