Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From Demilitarization to Bioliteracy: How Costa Rica has Become a Biodiversity-Friendly Country

One of the most well-known facts about Costa Rica is the elimination of its military army in 1948. The long-term, positive impact this decision has had in the nation’s development is a collection of benefits that we are still discovering and learning about as we move forward. You may be thinking: what does demilitarization have to do with biodiversity?

For 64 years, several generations of Costa Ricans have been born under a State that has a very high regard for human life. Having no military implies that under no circumstance, a political conflict will become violent through the use of weapons. It also implies that no aggressor, no invader, no trespasser that attempts to violate the country’s territorial integrity or sovereignty will ever be repealed using institutional, violent means.

This decision has shaped the mindset, culture and professional choices of millions of people throughout the last few decades. Most importantly, it has built in many of us the awareness and sensitivity to appreciate life in all its forms, since we have not been taught or raised to end, destroy or offend the lives of other humans.

The conditions of peace that Costa Rica has offered since 1948 have allowed many people to develop expertise in science, arts and humanities, a possibility that is unfortunately difficult in nations that endure long, violent conflicts. Since the 1950s, Costa Rican professionals specialized in fields that offered optimal learning conditions in the country’s natural environment. Today it is a very pleasant part of our history that renewable energies were developed since 1955 as an opportunity to generate electricity from the abundant sources of hydropower along several of the country’s rivers, lakes and waterfalls.

One of the results of these peaceful conditions for human development has been a growing bioliteracy over generations. I would define bioliteracy as the understanding of ecological processes and the richness that derives from them. In a country with outstanding natural characteristics, one is very frequently faced with amazing natural beauty and wealth, making it easier to develop empathy and appreciation for birds and snakes, trees and flowers, whales and dolphins that visit and live in Costa Rica. 

This bioliteracy has facilitated the adoption of the mentality “know-save-use” regarding biodiversity. First, it is important to know the natural wealth in a country’s surrounding ecosystems. As you hear a bird sing or appreciate a colorful tree blossom or experience the might of a whale in open ocean, it is easy to feel a connection with other life forms. Then, making political and economic efforts to preserve ecosystems and save species is more likely, as there is high awareness of such unique high concentration of living organisms in a fairly small territory like Costa Rica. As a result, the use of natural resources for human development and economic growth will happen in observance of other living beings.

This poses an interesting dilemma that needs to be decided by every generation’s leaders: should progress cost us our natural environment? In 1979, leaders chose to stop deforestation, preserve remaining forests and recover the ones that had been lost. A few people made an invaluable contribution to Costa Rica’s biodiversity by implementing an innovative policy that offered economic incentives for conservation. Today, we talk about Payment for Environmental Services, and it is said to be a policy innovation made in Costa Rica. This has recovered nearly half a million hectares of forests, transferring to property owners some US$200 million (JP¥16,000,000,000) in the course of three decades of public, private and international efforts.
In times when humanity’s consumption of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources provokes an ecological footprint that far exceeds the planet’s ability to naturally recover and replenish them, Costa Rica has become the focus of international attention as a result of the country’s economic success while simultaneously reforesting and improving ecosystemic performance. In the last 30 years, Costa Rican GDP has tripled and forest coverage has doubled. This, more than a case of sustainable development, is a case of regenerative development. Instead of setting the goal of not harming nature, Costa Rica has accomplished the goal of enriching nature while improving socioeconomic conditions for its people.

Innovation and entrepreneurship have become important components of this process. In 1989, a group of local and foreign visionary experts followed Dr. Rodrigo Gámez’s initiative to create the Biodiversity Institute, a non-governmental, not-for-profit institution that has been declared of public interest by the government, due to its enormous contribution to environmental conservation, scientific discoveries, bioliteracy and ecosystemic recovery. A few weeks ago, at the COP 11 that took place at Hyderabad, India, Dr. Gámez was awarded the AEON Foundation Midori Prize of Biodiversity, a well-deserved recognition for his efforts to improve the quality of all forms of life on Earth.

For nearly 25 years, the Costa Rican tourist industry has become instrumental in the promotion of ecological tourism, offering abundant business opportunities that have triggered private innovation in the form of ecological activities such as canopy or tree rappelling, surfing and river rafting, as well as tours for bird-watching, whale-watching and turtle-watching.

Public innovation has also played a significant role in the process of improving facilities and conditions for tourists to enjoy nature intensely. In 1996, a public program called Ecological Blue Flag was introduced to promote a healthy competition between tourist destinations, nature reserves and national parks, hotels and government institutions, to comply with sustainability requirements in order to obtain a blue flag that is to be displayed publicly. Every year, each entity must renew its “blue flag” status, raising national and international awareness about these efforts, which attract tourists by the hundreds of thousands.

In 1999, Costa Rica received one million foreign tourists for the first time. Ten years later, it reached two million, despite terrorist attacks in New York or the global economic recession.

Today, the country’s aspiration is to become a global leader in green growth, promoting regenerative development through ecological tourism, commercial use of biodiversity for biotechnology and attracting more modern technologies for renewable energy generation. With this strategy in place, a strong relationship with a country like Japan could create shared value for mutual benefit, and also for the benefit of people from other countries and even for other forms of life.

I hope I have managed to explain the relationship between demilitarization and biodiversity, and explain why Costa Rica means “rich coast” in Spanish, and why it is recognized as the country that has made Peace with Nature.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Future Cities and Green Growth

Imagine the following newspaper front page:

"Two countries sign the first Green Trade Partnership -GTP. The agreement aims at promoting investment, infrastructure development, transfer, manufacturing and international trade of smart city technologies, renewable energies, bio-industry, environmentally sustainable agriculture, and special visa conditions for tourists and businessmen and women that will engage in conservation and eco-tourism activities."

We want to believe that Japan has the right conditions to be one of those two countries. I already has the technology, the policy, the infrastructure, the financial capability, the track record and, most importantly, the urgency to move faster towards a low-carbon economy, reducing the country's ecological footprint.

We also believe that Costa Rica is a likely partner for this green growth initiative. In the last 30 years, Costa Rica has tripled its GDP and doubled its forest coverage at the same time. More than sustainable development, Costa Rica is an example of regenerative development.

With 95% of electricity from renewable sources and almost 30% of its ecosystems under legal protection, it is clear that Costa Rica is already a green country.

Today we want to invite you to imagine the newspaper headline and imagine it with your country's name on it.

What will it take to change the world as we know it? A lot of work and commitment indeed. First and foremost, it must start with a vision we can share and agree upon.

It is my great honor to introduce Dr. Rene Castro, Costa Rican Minister. His vision of a more prosperous world has changed Costa Rica since 1994 when he was Environment and Energy Minister for the first time, and I was a first year Law student. His influence in my career has been very profound.

I want to thank Ota-san from JICA and Kondo-san from the Ministry of Internal Communications for accepting to share their vision with you today. It is my firm belief that smart cities are the future. Japan knows it and it is an idea that could transform the world as we know it.

I also want to thank the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Association of Japan, and Aoyama Gakuin University for supporting and co-sponsoring this event and taking on the challenge to create shared value together.

Finally, I thank you all for coming, fellow Ambassadors and diplomats, public officers of the Japanese government, executives of private corporations, professors, students and friends. I hope we can imagine the future together.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Conflictos, costos y beneficios

Un conflicto es una incompatibilidad de objetivos. Varios niños pueden jugar con la misma bola. No todos podrán llevársela para la casa, por más fervientemente que lo deseen.

Los costos en un conflicto son múltiples, sobre todo los que implican recursos no renovables que se agotan irreparablemente. El más valioso de ellos es, sin duda, el tiempo, que se consume para siempre en cada instante que transcurre.

En un conflicto, el tiempo que invierten las partes atizando la incompatibilidad es tiempo que pierden ellas y también otros que indirectamente podrían verse afectados.

De una relación conflictiva, las partes nunca derivarán más beneficios que costos. Habrá quienes ganen a expensas del conflicto de otros, como los fabricantes y comerciantes de armas en las guerras. Pero los agentes que deciden permanecer en un conflicto o trascenderlo nunca ganarán más de lo que pierden permaneciendo en él.

La trascendencia de un conflicto es siempre posible. Es de mentes perezosas pensar que "la única opción es pelear." Se requiere ingenio y creatividad para imaginar escenarios en los que las partes involucradas puedan obtener más beneficios que costos.

Ese proceso de innovación tendrá mayor probabilidad de éxito si todas las partes son representadas en ambientes que faciliten la búsqueda de opciones a través de métodos eficaces de transformación de conflictos.

Los beneficios que trae la creación de un escenario de paz entre las partes son ilimitados. El más palpable, otra vez, es el tiempo. Tan pronto sea superado un conflicto, las partes podrán emprender la producción de bienestar que les corresponda y les convenga. Entre más pronto sea transformado un conflicto, más pronto comenzará a generarse la nueva riqueza a la que las partes aspiren.

Esto es tan cierto para los conflictos ambientales que aquejan a nuestro planeta como para las disputas domésticas que son un lastre para el desarrollo de toda una comunidad o un país.

A todos nos conviene hacer esfuerzos para transformar la crisis en oportunidad. Total, son caras de la misma moneda.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Transforming Global Conflict #3: Courage, Bravery and Entrepreneurial Spirit

No one can take on the world alone. Everyone needs a flourishing network of contacts that effectively builds a community of leaders that share a common purpose. This is the same for a small or large business as it is for a not-for-profit endeavor. Building such networks requires taking a step outside one’s comfort zone, which implies an act of courage. In fact, not everyone does it, although anybody can.

Transforming global conflicts requires a wide array of leaders of all sorts to make individual acts of courage and hope that those efforts meet, mix and match with the efforts of others, therefore building that community network that will alter a particular reality upon which one intends to influence.

Defying fear is the first challenge humanity must embrace. Fortunately, it is something we are hardwired for. Even waking up to an unknown, uncertain world is an act of defiance. Together, all these acts of individual courage build up our bravery, which, brought together as a civilization, conform our human character. The reminder is worth noting because, as societal, economic and environmental challenges loom large, human character will be called upon to harness our aspiring resolve for prosperity.

Such traits that define us also determine success in our ability to create new institutions that create value. The entrepreneurial spirit required to wander the forest in search of food is the same employed to build a new tool that improves our quality of life, and also to replicate it, sell it, and improve it over time.

Tackling the most severe conflicts in today’s world requires a systemic vision to perceive the intense and regenerating resources within and the systemic scenarios without, thinking innovatively about ways to make them meet, mix and match.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Transforming Global Conflict #2: Opportunities to Create Change

Innovation is the buzzword of the times. In the information era, good ideas put into action create enormous wealth although they might not create real value. A commentator on a recent article about Steve Jobs was wondering if Apple’s innovative devices had really created new value for the planet, making people happier, societies safer, or ecosystems more vibrant. In fact, quite the opposite could be argued, whereas stress, envy and environmental degradation seem to be additional components to the marvelous built-in, proprietary software inside an iPhone.

Real innovation is the one that brings along systemic change that can be measured as a net positive impact; that the planet, as a whole, is better off with this new idea or device or institution or policy. In order to achieve such stage of virtuous novelty, we must first comprehend the natural constraints of our planet. We will get into detail later. For now, suffice it to say that as long as life on Earth inextricably depends on the conditions for its existence –sunlight, water, and vegetation- these conditions must be respected when thinking about the consequences of our every behavior at a systemic level.

Identifying opportunities for real innovation is an intellectual activity that has become indispensable in this day and age when several ecosystemic measures indicate the breach of some natural limits of the planet. The carrying capacity of the global ecosystem has been overloaded for more than two decades, and today we consume 50% more natural resources than the planet can regenerate on a yearly basis.

These constraints and diagnosis about the state of affairs of the web that supports life are an infinite source for real innovation. Putting our minds together in synergy will render ideas to lead civilization to more prosperous scenarios. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Transforming Global Conflict #1: Personal Anecdotes

From 2002 to 2004, I studied a Masters degree in Peace Studies andConflict Transformation at Tromsø University in northern Norway. Back then, Iwas convinced the most severe conflict humanity was facing was the “War onTerror”, a euphemism for many atrocities that have taken place in the name ofgods and motherlands since the Twin Towers episode in New York City in 2001.

In 2007, the Costa Rican president at the time, Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez,gave a speech at the launching of the international campaign called Peace withNature, in which he raised awareness about the state of environmental affairsin the world. All ecosystems and biodiversity species threatened, he vowed to“not renounce to life on planet Earth.” This became my calling and since then Ihave been eagerly studying Climate Change as the most severe conflict humankindfaces.

It has come quite handy to study conflict transformation. As I learnmore about energy and environment, consumption and pollution, natural constraintsand people’s expectations, I have plotted a matrix of causes and consequencesthat have facilitated my understanding of the issue, allowing me to describediagnoses, prognoses and proposals for effective transformation.

I intend to make a brief description of this intellectualmatrix that both shows the origin of some of our most pressing issues at alocal level, and also presents a clear exit path into the future. This is anempirical effort to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm through thevirtuous strategy of ethical action. As Emile Durkheim once said: “When valuesare sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when values are insufficient, laws areunenforceable.” This is why I strongly believe ethics is the common thread outof this big mess. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coping with Climate Change: Earth from Jupiter


Imagine standing on the surface of planet Jupiter. How would the Earth look from there? It could be inferred that, in the same way that Jupiter is not visible through the naked eye from Earth, the same would hold true in the opposite direction.

This visualization exercise is useful to put into perspective the dimension of the global conflict otherwise referred to as climate change: it is not perceptible from Jupiter.

Nevertheless, as one approaches planet Earth from outer space, the degree of the problem becomes more and more visible: burning fossil fuels means burning the fossilized remains of living matter that grew with sunlight, decomposed and was compressed over layers of new material decay. The present rate of fossil fuel consumption is equivalent to one million years of ancient sunlight every year. This explains two facts: a) that fossil fuels will eventually be exhausted permanently from the planet; and b) that the exhaust fumes from such burning process accumulate in the atmosphere, as they have nowhere else to go outside of the physical constraints of the planet’s environment. This causes the well-known greenhouse effect, increasing the temperature of at least the Earth’s land and water.

The last four million years, the planet’s long-term average temperature had remained stable, after hundreds of millions of years of instability. Naturally, the geological process of tectonic and volcanic turmoil created the required conditions for life to evolve into more complex species and into an incredibly wide variety and diversity of them.

In only two hundred years, human industrious activity spawned sufficient carbon dioxide to alter such stability, bringing climatic uncertainty to a habitat that had become quite predictable to human understanding.

Excess evaporation and the melting of ice formations have additionally triggered a disruption in the planet’s water cycle, from cloud formation to sea levels, and from potable water to floods.

The wrong question.

I am fundamentally at odds with the case study and subsequent questions for this Module. Although there may or may not be subtle ecosystemic differences between the vulnerability of the Sundarbans region in India and Bangladesh, another fact holds true: c) as climate change consequences progress in visibility, the alteration of living conditions –not only for humans- in an already vulnerable geographical area will become more evident.

Living in Australia I had the opportunity to visit several natural sites where there is physical evidence of sea levels way above present levels. Such water surges are not as old as climate instability, but the result of climate oscillations that provoked melting of ice formations, altering sea levels significantly. Subsequent ice ages re-captured water in the form of glaciers and polar ice caps, making sea levels recede worldwide.

This allows me to understand two additional facts: d) whether there is anthropogenic climate change or not, sea levels will rise again, perhaps not as the result of human activity and not in such a short period of time in geological terms; and e) relocation of human settlements will be forced by sea levels in this century or a few centuries later regardless of what mitigation efforts humanity embarks on.

Although I could make an effort to substantiate a statement in either direction in response to Assignment Question 1, I prefer to consider the worst-case scenarios projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the Stern Report, other geological data about ice ages and higher sea levels in previous millennia, and take action counterfactually from there. In other words, if there will be a one-meter sea level rise by the end of the century, what kind of adaptation should we engage in? If prior to the next ice age sea levels will rise 60 meters, where would be the safest places to establish human settlements?

The right question.

Our scientific reasoning is based on methodologies that embrace deduction and induction as principles to advance new knowledge. A principle that has been neglected is abductive reasoning, paradoxically being the source of the initial hunch that leads to all scientific research. As Einstein reminds us, “imagination is more important than intelligence.”

The way abductive reasoning could help us cope with climate change is by allowing us to collaborate creatively in the process of imagining a new model for thriving life -also human- on the planet given the global constraints that we already know and even considering a few that, although there is no certainty about, there is some likelihood of. For example, the constraints by 2050 if human population reaches 9 billion, greenhouse gas emissions continue a steady rise, and the planet’s biocapacity –forest coverage, land fertility and ocean resilience- continues a steady decrease.

It is paramount that humanity imagines those scenarios –regardless of the likelihood of them happening- so that we can start generating ideas and building solutions for that not-so-distant future.

One last fact I would like to propose: f) I will not be alive in 2100. But that is not necessarily the same expectation for my unborn children, who might, and my grandchildren, who most likely will be around at the coming turn of the century. This leads me to believe that the efforts that we are doing and should continue doing to save the planet from humankind are not to improve the world we will live in, but the world our grandchildren will. This is why I strongly support the promotion of intercultural ethics as the way forward to reach global agreements towards the build-up of critical masses of leaders who will bring about a sustainable change that can ensure the regeneration and preservation of natural habitats as rich and unique as the Sundarbans. 

Coping with Climate Change: Sea Level Rising

In reference to the YouTube video explaining The Netherlands’ efforts to reclaim land from the sea and to retain tidal surges from flooding low-lying lands, the effort has achieved a variety of results: more than 2000 square kilometers of reclaimed land from the ocean, a dike or barrier to stop high tides from affecting land that lies below sea level, disruption of otherwise natural habitats, diversion of ocean currents, and creation of a safety device to stop storms short of human settlements.

In the process, local fishermen complained that erecting a normal dam would keep fish away from coastal fishing zones. This sparked innovation in the engineers in charge resulting in what is known as one of modern engineering’s marvels.

The question is whether this is a sustainable effort from a financial, environmental and social point of view. As a human-made construction, it will require maintenance because the forces of nature will degrade it over time. This is opposite to what happens with natural constructions, be it forests, marshes, or grasslands: they regenerate over time.

At least that was the case until anthropogenic climate change, where some natural constructions are degraded permanently.

Reclaimed land in the Netherlands has not been reclaimed permanently. If worst-case scenarios of sea level rising occur, it could bring that land back under the ocean. The attempt to prevent it would require a financial and engineering mobilization that might require lifting up the barriers not only along the Dutch coast, but also essentially along the coast of all territories where oceans could penetrate. Financially, that would be out of the question already.

The issue at stake is whether humans are able to cope with climate change through human technology. An interesting approach is what Dutch architects have been developing as housing solutions for high-sea level regions, like the Maldives, which could altogether disappear from above the ocean surface. These architects have been designing life-supporting structures that basically float and are also tied to the ocean floor, allowing for human life to thrive. Another entirely different question is whether the necessary resources to subsist would be available, but the effort is worth mentioning.

Coping with climate change means coping with the new forces of nature that are being triggered: higher sea levels, greater humidity in the air causing more rain and increasing likelihood of flooding, shrinking ice formations reducing river flows during melting season in spring and summer, less arable land and forests, to name a few.

This would require –at a formidable cost- to displace coastal communities to higher ground where the probability of severe disruption by climate-related catastrophes is reduced, relocation of communities towards sustainable water basins to support human activities, better technologies for water preservation, purification, reutilization and management, planting new forests to naturally store and purify water, among others.

It would also imply to change habits of consumption, not only renewable resources, such as water and timber, but also less renewable, like beef and fish, whose consumption at present rates come at such a high environmental cost.

In response to the second sub-question, the largest demerit of engineering approaches to adaptation is that it is an attempt to fight back nature instead of adapting to it. This, instead, would require understanding the new forces of nature and utilizing them to the benefit of life in general, and not only human life in particular.

The greatest merit is the intellectual process that leads to innovation, which is always so inspiring. Even the way inaccessible oil is drilled out through innovative technologies is inspiring, despite the consequences of burning such oil might have. Human inventive character is monumental and truly indispensable for climate change adaptation and mitigation to happen effectively and sustainably. In fact, it would be ideal if experts from different fields of study would come together to collaborate creatively towards the innovation of systems that will address the causes and consequences of anthropogenic climate change. Imagine engineers, mathematicians, economists, natural scientists, medical doctors, computer programmers, architects, and philosophers, among others, coming together to define global constraints and to generate new ideas and building solutions for a more prosperous future.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Speed of Trust - Stephen M.R. Covey

The greatest trust-building key is ‘results.’” (Stephen R. Covey)

Trust is the confidence on people’s integrity and abilities.

¯ Trust = ¯ Speed ­ Cost : When trust goes down, speed goes down and costs go up

­ Trust = ­ Speed ¯ Cost : When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down

Trust tax: a discount on someone’s credibility.

Inheritance tax: when you step into a role that was occupied by someone who created distrust before you.

Trust dividend: a performance multiplier that improves every dimension of organizations and life in general. High trust materially improves communication, collaboration, execution, innovation, strategy, engagement, partnering, and relationships with all stakeholders.

Traditional business formula: Strategy x Execution = Results
Trust business formula: (Strategy x Execution) x Trust = Results

“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders – customers, business partners, investors, and coworkers – is the key leadership competency of the new global economy.”

A summary of taxes and dividends

The 80% Tax (nonexistent trust)

In the organization…
In personal relationships…
  • Dysfunctional environment and toxic culture (open warfare, sabotage, grievances, lawsuits, criminal behavior)
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Militant stakeholders
  • Hot, angry confrontations or cold, bitter withdrawal
  • Intense micromanagement
  • Defensive posturing and legal positioning (I’ll see you in court!”)
  • Redundant hierarchy
  • Labeling of others as enemies or allies
  • Punishing systems and structures
  • Verbal, emotional or physical abuse

The 60% Tax (very low trust)

  • Unhealthy working environment
  • Hostile behaviors (yelling, blaming, accusing, name-calling) followed by periods of brief contrition
  • Unhappy employees and stakeholders
  • Guarded communication
  • Intense political atmosphere with clear camps and parties
  • Constant worrying and suspicion
  • Excessive time wasted defending positions and decisions
  • Mistakes remembered and used as weapons
  • Painful micromanagement and bureaucracy
  • Real issues not surfaced or dealt with effectively

The 40% Tax (low trust)

  • Common “CYA” behavior[1]
  • Energy draining and joyless interactions
  • Hidden agendas
  • Evidence gathering of other party’s weaknesses and mistakes
  • Political camps with allies and enemies
  • Doubt about others’ reliability or commitment
  • Many dissatisfied employees and stakeholders
  • Hidden agendas
  • Bureaucracy and redundancy in systems and structures
  • Guarded (often grudging) dispersing of information

The 20% Tax (Trust issues)

  • Some bureaucratic rules and procedures
  • Regular misunderstandings
  • Unnecessary hierarchy
  • Concerns about intent and motive
  • Slow approvals
  • Interactions characterized by tension
  • Misaligned systems and structures
  • Communications colored by fear, uncertainty, doubt and worry
  • Some dissatisfied employees and stakeholders
  • Energy spent in maintaining (instead of growing) relationships

No Tax/No Dividend (Trust is not an issue)

  • Healthy workplace
  • Polite, cordial, healthy
  • Good communication
  • A focus on working together smoothly and efficiently
  • Aligned systems and structures
  • Mutual tolerance and acceptance
  • Few office politics
  • No worries

The 20% Dividend (Trust is a visible asset)

  • The focus is on work
  • Cooperative, close, vibrant relationships
  • Effective collaboration and execution
  • A focus on looking for and leveraging on another’s strengths
  • Positive partnering relationships with employees and stakeholders
  • Uplifting and positive communication
  • Helpful systems and structures
  • Mistakes seen as learning opportunities and quickly forgiven
  • Strong creativity and innovation
  • Positive energy and positive people

The 40% Dividend (World-class Trust)

  • High collaboration and partnering
  • True joy in family and friendships, characterized by caring and love
  • Effortless communication
  • Free, effortless communication
  • Positive, transparent relationships with employees and all stakeholders
  • Inspiring work done together and characterized by purpose, creativity and excitement
  • Fully aligned systems and structures
  • Completely open, transparent relationships
  • Strong innovation, engagement, confidence and loyalty
  • Amazing energy created by relationships

Myths about Trust
Reality about Trust
Trust is soft.
Trust is hard, real, and quantifiable. It measurably affects both speed and cost.
Trust is low.
Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.
Trust is built solely on integrity.
Trust is a function of both character (which includes integrity) and competence.
You either have trust or you don’t.
Trust can be both created and destroyed.
Once lost, trust cannot be restored.
Through difficult, in most cases lost trust can be restored.
You can’t teach trust.
Trust can be effectively taught and learned, and it can become a leverageable, strategic advantage.
Trusting people is too risky.
Not trusting people is a greater risk.
Trust is established one person at a time.
Establishing trust with the one establishes trust with the many.

Trust is equal parts character and competence. These two values are vital to sustained success and leadership.

The five waves of trust:

  1. Self Trust: confidence in ourselves, in our ability to set and achieve goals, to keep commitments, to walk our talk, and also with our ability to inspire trust in others. The idea is to become a person worthy of trust. The key principle is credibility. The end result of high character and high competence is credibility, judgment, and influence.

  1. Relationship Trust: to establish and increase the “trust accounts” we have with others. The key principle is consistent behavior. The result is a significantly increased ability to generate trust with all involved in order to enhance relationships and achieve better results.

  1. Organizational Trust: how leaders can generate trust in all kinds of organizations. The key principle underlying this wave is alignment, helps leaders create structures, systems, and symbols of organizational trust that decrease or eliminate seven of the most insidious and costly organizational trust taxes, and create seven huge organizational trust dividends.

  1. Market Trust: The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation. A brand reflects the trust customers, investors and others in the marketplace have in it.

  1. Societal Trust: is about creating value for others and for society at large. The underlying principle is contribution. This counteracts suspicion, cynicism, and low-trust inheritance taxes within our society. We also inspire others to create value and contribute as well.

The purpose of this book is to enable you to see, speak and behave in ways that establish trust, and all three dimensions are vital.

When you SEE Trust, you experience paradigm shifts; when you SPEAK Trust, you experience language shifts; when you BEHAVE Trust, you experience behavior shifts.

Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust.


  1. Integrity: congruency and honesty; courage to act in harmony with values and beliefs and to do the right thing. Ethics. When there is no gap between intent and behavior. Humility is part of integrity: to focus on what is right, not on being right, acting on good ideas rather than having the ideas, embracing new truths rather than defending outdated positions, about building the team rather than exalting self, about recognizing contribution rather than being recognized for making it. (CHARACTER)

How to increase integrity?

a.     Make and keep commitments to yourself
b.     Stand for values and principles
c.     Be open (humble and courageous)

  1. Intent: motives, agendas and resulting behavior. Trust grows when we genuinely care not only for ourselves but also for the people we interact with, lead or serve. (CHARACTER)

In law, a man is guilty when he violates the rights of another. In ethics, he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.” (Immanuel Kant)

Motive is the reason for doing something. It is the “why” that moves the “what.” The motive that inspires the greatest trust is genuine caring.

Agenda is what you intend to do or promote because of your motive. The agenda that generally inspires the greatest trust is seeking mutual benefit – genuinely wanting what’s best for everyone involved.

Behavior is the manifestation of motive and agenda. The behavior that best creates credibility and inspires trust is acting in the best interest of others.

How to improve intent?

a.     Examine and refine your motives
b.     Declare your intents
c.     Choose abundance

The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

  1. Capabilities: abilities that inspire confidence: talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge and style (TASKS). Ability to establish, grow, extend and restore trust. (COMPETENCE)

    1. Talents: natural gifts and strengths
    2. Attitudes: our paradigms; ways of seeing and being
    3. Skills: proficiencies (what we can do well)
    4. Knowledge: learning, insight, understanding and awareness
    5. Style: unique approach and personality

  1. Results: track record, performance, effectiveness. (COMPETENCE)

“Do or do not; there is no try.” (Master Yoda)


  1. Talk straight: Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.

  1. Demonstrate respect: Genuinely care for others. Show you care. Respect the dignity of every person and every role. Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in the little things. Don’t face caring. Don’t attempt to be “efficient” with people.

  1. Create transparency: Tell the truth in a way people can verify. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic. Err on the side of disclosure. Operate on the premise of “What you see is what you get.” Don’t have hidden agendas. Don’t hide information.

  1. Right wrongs: Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution when possible. Practice “service recoveries.” Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

  1. Show loyalty: Give credit freely. Acknowledge the contributions of others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t bad-mouth others behind their backs. Don’t disclose others’ private information.

  1. Deliver results: Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen. Accomplish what you’re hired to do. Be on time and within budget. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

  1. Get better: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  (Alvin Toffler) Continuously improve. Increase your Capabilities. Be a constant learner. Develop feedback systems – both formal and informal. Act on the feedback you receive. Thank people for feedback. Don’t consider yourself above feedback. Don’t assume today’s knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges.

  1. Confront reality: Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables.” Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead out courageously in conversation. Remove the “sword from their hands.” Don’t skirt the real issues. Don’t bury your head in the sand.

  1. Clarify expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t violate expectations. Don’t assume that expectations are clear or shared.

  1. Practice accountability: Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing – and how others are doing. Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility. Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.

  1. Listen first: Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears – and your eyes and heart. Find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you’re working with. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all the answers – or all the questions.

  1. Keep commitments: Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do. Make commitments carefully and keep them. Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences. Don’t attempt to “PR” your way out of a commitment you’ve broken.

  1. Extend trust: “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them great and they will show themselves great.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust. Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and credibility (character and competence) of the people involved. But have a propensity to trust. Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.


Organizations are no longer built on force, but on trust.” (Peter Drucker)

The 7 low-trust organizational taxes:

1.     Redundancy: unnecessary duplication in excessive organizational hierarchy, layers of management, and overlapping structures designed to ensure control. It mostly grows out of the paradigm that people can only be trusted if they are tightly supervised.

2.     Bureaucracy: complex and cumbersome rules, regulations, policies, procedures and processes. It is reflected in excessive paperwork, red tape, controls, multiple approval layers and government regulations. Instead of focusing on continuous improvement, it adds complexity, inefficiency and costs to the status quo.

Low-trust breeds bureaucracy, and bureaucracy builds low-trust. In low-trust organizations, bureaucracy is everywhere.

3.     Politics: the use of tactics and strategy to gain power. Office politics divide a culture against itself by creating conflict within. It generates behaviors such as withholding information, infighting, hidden agendas, interdepartmental rivalries, and meetings after meetings. The results are wasted time, talent, energy, and money. It also poisons the company cultures, derails strategies, and sabotages initiatives, relationships, and careers.

Office politics thrive in low-trust environments. In fact, in many ways, “politics” is an antonym for trust.

4.     Disengagement: when people continue to work at a company but have effectively quit, only making the effort to not get fired and get their paycheck, and not giving their talent, creativity, energy, or passion. One of the main reasons for this is that people don’t feel trusted.

5.     Turnover: Performers like to be trusted and they like to work in high-trust environments. It is usually a result of bureaucracy and politics.

6.     Churn: it is the turnover of stakeholders other than employees. Low trust generates high turnover among customers, suppliers, distributors, and investors.

7.     Fraud: dishonesty, sabotage, obstruction, deception, and disruption. Requires rebuilding the ethical structure of the company to enforce cultural values.

When cultural values are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when cultural values are insufficient, laws are unenforceable.” (Emile Durkheim)

Rules cannot substitute for character.” (Alan Greenspan)

The 7 high-trust organizational dividends

  1. Increased value: high-trust organizations earn four times than low-trust ones. “Employees treasure the freedom to do their job as they think best, and great employers trust them.” (Fortune magazine). High-trust organizations are consistently able to create and deliver more value to their customers. The customer value, in return, creates more value for other key stakeholders.

  1. Accelerated growth: “Trust is our number one asset…As customers learn to trust us, they generate a surprising amount of growth.” (John Brennan, CEO, Vanguard Investments)

  1. Enhanced innovation: high-trust companies are innovative in the products and services they offer customers, and have strong cultures of innovation, which only thrive in an environment of high trust. Innovation and creativity require information sharing, absence of caring about who takes the credit, a willingness to take risks, the safety to make mistakes, and the ability to collaborate. All of these conditions are the fruits of high trust.

  1. Improved collaboration: high-trust environments foster collaboration and teamwork required for success, to achieve the benefits and possibilities available in the knowledge worker age.

  1. Stronger partnering: better and stronger partnerships and alliances are the result of higher trust relationships. Trust is earned through performance.

  1. Better execution: High-trust companies are better able to execute their organization’s strategy. “It is better to have a grade-B strategy and grade-A execution than the other way around.” (Harvard Business School).

  1. Heightened loyalty: high-trust companies generate far greater loyalty from their primary stakeholders –coworkers, customers, suppliers, distributors, and investors.


In the end, all you have is your reputation.” (Oprah Winfrey)

If an organization strengthens its 4 Cores and demonstrates the 13 behaviors with its stakeholders, you will be able to measurably increase the value of your organization’s brand, image, name and reputation.

Employees with integrity are the ones who build a company’s reputation.” (Roberto Goizueta, former CEO, Coca Cola)


The overriding principle of societal trust is contribution. It is the intent to create value instead of destroy it, to give back instead of take. And more and more, people are realizing how important contribution –and the causes it inspires- are to a healthy society.

Executives tempted to take shortcuts should remember the dictum of Confucius that good government needs weapons, food and trust. If the ruler cannot hold onto all three, he should give up weapons first and food next. Trust should be guarded to the end, because without trust, we cannot stand.” (Financial Times editorial)

Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” (Albert Einstein)

Commerce dies the moment, and is sick in the degree in which men cannot trust each other.” (Henry Ward Beecher, XIX Century American author)

To beat back the threat of openness, terrorists have, quite deliberately, chosen to attack the very thing that keeps open societies open, innovating, and flattening, and that is trust.” (Thomas Friedman, “The World is Flat”)

The idea of corporate social responsibility is not new. In fact, it was originally the conceptual framework behind the whole idea of the free enterprise system. Adam Smith, the father of free enterprise and author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations, 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 intentional virtue, there was an “unseen hand” that would guide society in a way that would create prosperity and wealth for all.

The evolution of capitalism has been in the direction of more trust and transparency, and less self-serving behavior; not coincidentally, this evolution has brought with it greater productivity and economic growth. That evolution, of course, has not taken place because capitalists are naturally good people. Instead, it has taken place because the benefits of trust –that is, of being trusting and of being trustworthy- are potentially immense and because a successful market system teaches people to recognize those benefits.” (James Surowiecki, Forbes magazine)

Global citizenship is an individual choice of you and me making the conscious decision to value and invest in the well-being of others. It is you and me carrying out that decision in every dimension of our lives.

One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

The success of big business and the well-being of the world has never been more closely linked. Global issues cannot be removed from the business world because business has only one world in which to operate. Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail.” (Jorma Ollila, chairman and CEO, Nokia)

Global citizenship is an individual choice and a whole-life choice. And as we make that choice in our own lives, we influence those with whom we work and live to make a similar positive choice in theirs. Together, we build organizations and families that contribute to the well-being of the world.

Summary of societal trust

1.     The 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors are the tools to establish or restore trust in every context –in organizations, families, the marketplace and society, both national and global.
2.     The main principle of establishing Organizational Trust is alignment –ensuring that all structures and systems within the organization are in harmony with the cores and behaviors. This is what builds trust with internal stakeholders.
3.     The main principle of establishing Market Trust is reputation or brand. It is using the cores and behaviors to create the credibility and behavior that inspires the trust of external stakeholders to the extent that they will buy, invest in, and recommend your products and services to others.
4.     The main principle of establishing Societal Trust is contribution. It is demonstrating the intent to give back, to be a responsible global citizen, and it is becoming both a social and an economic necessity in our knowledge worker age.


Propensity to Trust: intuition or tendency, inclination or predisposition to believe that people are worthy of trust and a desire to extend it to them freely.

Analysis: knowledge or ability to analyze, evaluate, theorize, diagnose and prognosticate logical decisions and solutions.


1 Gullibility
Judgment 2
High propensity/Low Analysis
High Propensity/High Analysis

Blind Trust
Smart Trust


No Trust

Low Propensity/Low Analysis
Low Propensity/High Analysis
3 Indecision
Suspicion 4



Zone 1: (High Propensity to Trust; Low Analysis) is the Blind Trust zone of gullibility.

Zone 2: (High Propensity to Trust; High Analysis) is the “Smart Trust” zone of judgment. Ideal risk-management. The synergy of both instinct and intuition elevates the realm of good judgment.

This is the zone with lowest risk and highest return. The risk is always real, and here it can be wisely moderated and managed. You have the personal analysis to carefully evaluate and consider issues and the propensity to trust that releases, encourages, and generates synergy with the creativity and judgment of others.

The propensity to trust becomes the catalyst in creating that same propensity in others, and they want to live up to that trust. While not necessarily extending trust to someone, it will almost always build trust.

Zone 3: (Low Propensity to Trust; Low Analysis) is the “No Trust” zone of indecision. With low analysis it is even difficult to trust oneself. Characterized by indecision, insecurity, protectiveness, apprehension, tentativeness, and immobilization.

Zone 4: (Low Propensity to Trust; High Analysis) is the “Distrust” zone of suspicion. No trust on anyone but themselves. People in this zone tend to rely almost exclusively on analysis (usually their own) for all evaluation, decision-making and execution.

This is the zone with the highest risk. When you are highly suspicious, you cut off collaboration and synergy, you miss opportunities, and the only analysis that you have is your own, which may be limited or wrong; but you may not even realize it because you cut yourself off from access to the valuable thoughts, ideas, wisdom, and perspectives of others.

Ultimately, leaders who only trust themselves can lead their organizations only as far as they can take themselves. They are demoralizing to work with. They run on high risk driving away their best and most talented people who simply won’t work in a restrictive environment of control.

Additionally, the risk for leadership is extremely high because it gives limited perspective, lack of collaboration, alienation of talent, and lost opportunity. In the modern global economy, not trusting people is often the greatest risk of all.

Three variables of analysis:

  1. Opportunity: situation or task at hand
  2. Risk involved: possibility, probability, importance and visibility of outcomes
  3. Credibility: character and competence of the people involved

In extending trust, the general guideline is to extend trust conditionally to those who are earning it and abundantly to those who have already done so. Keep in mind that even when you extend trust abundantly, there should still always be accountability because that is a principle that actually enhances trust. The decision to extend or not extend trust is always an issue of risk management.

Delegation is intellectual, and entrusting is intuitive. The number one job as a leader is to inspire trust. It is to release the creativity and capacity of individuals to give their best and to create a high-trust environment in which they can effectively work with others.

Regaining Trust

When trust has been lost, put yourself in the others’ shoes. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t automatically assume that a failure of competence is a failure of character. Many mistakes are not intentional.

Forgive quickly. We must cleanse ourselves of feelings of anger, guilt, vindictiveness, blaming, accusing, or retribution towards anyone that has caused us offense, intentionally or accidentally. Whether or not we choose to trust, we always need to forgive, both for our own sake and for the sake of others. Until we forgive, we are really not free to exercise Smart Trust. The emotional baggage we carry around jades our analysis and our propensity to trust. We forgive to bring clarity and peace to ourselves.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Propensity to Trust

Leaders who extend trust to us become our mentors, models and heroes. We are overwhelmed with gratitude when we think about them and about the difference they have made in our lives. Companies that choose to extend trust to their employees become great places to work.

Trust brings out the best in people and literally changes the dynamics of interaction. They are inspired, they run with the trust they were extended, they want to live up to it and they want to give back.

Paraphrasing Emile Durkheim, “When trust in sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when trust is insufficient, laws are unenforceable.”

Extending trust to others rekindles the inner spirit –both theirs and ours. It touches and enlightens the innate propensity we all have to trust, and to be trusted. It brings happiness to relationships, results to work, and confidence to lives. Above all, it produces an extraordinary dividend in every dimension of our lives: the speed of trust.

[1] Cover your ass!