I've been thinking about issues related to trust and risk ever since Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant's unsession on their forthcoming book, Humanize, at #ASAE11.
During the session, Jamie made a really interesting point: trust and risk are correlated. As trust goes up, risk goes up. In order to lower risk, we also end up lowering trust.
Ever wondered why staff members have such strong reactions to new policies at your association? Voila. That reads, on some level, like you don't trust them.
Here's the thing: we can't just throw out all our policies and skip merrily along trusting everyone completely and all the time. First of all, my many lawyer friends would be out of business if we did. They're all smart people, so I'm sure they'd find something else to do. But the unemployment rate is high enough right now.
But also, it's not realistic. There are people out there who, through ignorance, accident or ill intent, can harm our associations. Our members and the other communities we serve have the right to expect us to do what we can to protect our associations, by preventing what risks we can and being prepared to ameliorate those we can't.
On the other hand, our staff members deserve respect and professional courtesy. After all, if we can't trust them even a little bit, why did we hire them in the first place?
I don't have the perfect answer to this. In fact, there isn't one. Different organizations have different levels of tolerance for and exposure to risk. If you deal with credit card or HIPPA protected data, you know exactly what I mean.
I think this raises and important consideration for us as part of our own risk calculations. We often focus on the downsides of being more open, more trusting, etc in assessing risk. Do we think about the other side: what is the risk of reducing trust? Now that social media is, to quote Jamie, "kicking our asses" maybe we need to weigh that side of the calculation a little more carefully.