How People And Companies Succeed In The Connected Age

Of all the key open business concepts that have been promoted, trust and transparency give business leaders the most heartburn. It shouldn’t. Our hyperconnected, digital, and morally interdependent world is the standard operating system for business today. For companies that are not mindful of their products or services brand promise and careful about their fulfillment, the “interconnected” tribe of employees, customers, trust advocates, and other key stakeholders will express their negative opinions.

The socially-connected and the digitally empowered customer will communicate their negative perception of how you operate to their friends and peers. This word of mouth will do harm to your reputation at the speed of the sharing economy. This is as a dangerous position for any company to accept today.

But openness and transparency isn’t just a matter of Public Relations. It is also a significant driver of productivity and innovation. Openness and transparency can bring a greater sense of responsibility and context to the teams. Giving staff clearing understanding of the value of their efforts and the difference that it has on the rest of the business organization gives them a greater sense of purpose.

This starts with clear job descriptions that are aligned with their responsibilities. Each employee needs to know that “they are in control of this machine. It’s up to each individual to keep it running and to share their ideas to improve its performance.

As the business culture elevates and advances because of greater purpose, stronger results, and higher relationship capital trust, this positive cycle repeats. In order to fulfill their responsibilities, employees request for more information, knowledge, and training. The empowered employees seek more openness and transparency about the business organization, its strategy, objectives, and challenges. This is the foundation by which the value of transparency — and the value of a business — get created.

If building an open and transparent organizational culture of high trust or proactive trustworthiness is a competitive advantage in the global hyper-connected and transparent marketplace of today, it must start with the senior leadership. Those relationship capital leaders demonstrate open and transparent behavior on a daily basis and create and attract high performing leaders that sustain this virtuous cycle of high performance.

Social Behaviors of a Relationship Capital Leader

  • Talk authentically. Let people know where you stand. Use simple and understandable language.
  • Demonstrate respect. Genuinely care and show it.
  • Generate transparency. Tell the truth in a line that can be confirmed. Always practice full-disclosure.
  • Correct Offenses. Apologize quickly. Make amends where possible.
  • Show trustworthiness. Give credit generously. Talk about people as if they were present.
  • Deliver results. Under-promise and over-deliver. Be 100% accountable.
  • Continuously improve toward mastery.
  • Reinforce Candor[i] Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables”.
  • Clarify expectations. Disclose, reveal, discuss, validate, renegotiate if needed.
  • Say “Thank you”.
  • Practice accountability. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate.
  • Listen first. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others.
  • Keep commitments. Make commitments carefully. Don’t break confidences.
  • Extend trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned it. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning it.

A business case is being made for more tangible and open measures for the value the relationship capital assets of:

  • High Performance
  • Purpose
  • Values/Guiding Principles
  • Credibility
  • Reputation
  • Influence

The Benefits of Relationship Capital (RC) Measurement

Relationship Capital (RC) as an industry standard will be an important metric in distinguishing one leader from another and one organization from another. Quantifying the quality of trustworthiness amongst your team and with your stakeholders in this hyper-connected and transparent world is to be expected.

How you behave is as important to your business success as what products you create or services you deliver. By accounting for these commitments and perceptions you gain the following benefits:

  • RC is a social & peer-to-peer reward for your stakeholders (i.e. employees, partners, suppliers, and customers/clients) that motivates new levels of performance.
  • RC quantifies the “Golden Rule”.
  • Provides real-time appraisal.
  • Relationship Capital (RC) demonstrates the quality of a person’s character.
  • Contributes to the creation of a real-time, dynamic, common global vocabulary to be used by all members of the community.
  • Creates a social community of companies and individuals dedicated to the promotion and adoption of Relationship Capital (RC) in their business interactions.

By leveraging industry standards of Relationship Capital (RC) we will provide leaders more understanding of how to lever these intangible assets of culture to meet and exceed expectations with all stakeholders that are good for business and the overall community.

Standards of Culture — Four Organizational Community Mindsets

Research by Standard of Trust Group working with organizations across the globe show 4 Levels of Organizational Culture.

The Standards of Culture Maturity Matrix® is a framework for categorizing an organization’s cultural attributes from Level One to Level Three Community Mindsets. Level one is a community characterized by a “conformityHow People And Companies Succeed In The Connected Age” mindset up to the Level three community mindset of “Do The Right Thing”. We define community in our framework as a social group of any size interacting with common standards of Knowledge, Behavior, Relationships, Acknowledgement, and Striving.

There are no fixed dividers for the level one to level three cultural communities. Since an organization’s culture is dynamic, categorizing its community level is a snapshot in time. Organizational cultures are living ecosystems of purpose, values, and behaviors.

Community Mindsets:

  • Level One Conformity Mindset — Complies to top-down commands
  • Level Two Acquiescence Mindset — Informed Acceptance to Authority
  • Level Three Do-The-Right-Thing Mindset — Purpose & Values-driven

Organizational Descriptors:

  • Level One Silos & Fiefdoms — Silo specific Skills/Capabilities
  • Level Two Structure & Control — Functional Expertise
  • Level Three Flourish — Self-Governing Governance

Most organizational groups have attributes of Level One, Two, and Three community levels. For example, larger organizations may have a number of different community-level mindsets. For example, the sales function may have community-level three mindset of Do the Right Thing while at the same time manufacturing has a level two mindset of Acquiesce to get the product out the door.

For example, Sales may be making promises of customization based on a customer’s specific requirements while manufacturing is focused on efficiently controlling production in its culture. As the leader, understanding your current standard of culture as well as the levers to shape it across by function and community level will create strategic value. One option is to adapt your strategy to meet your current cultural maturity. A second option may be to better align the Five Standards of Culture across two or more functions based on an immediate requirement. Because of the necessity to get closer to the customers for competitive reasons; the information technology function and marketing functions must collaborate together at a higher level leveraging the business analytical capabilities of “Big Data”.


For too long, individuals and organizations have not had an operational process for capturing the value of social relationships from a financial perspective. Every consulting firm has their own perspective on the problem and the measurement. The global relationship economy is becoming more horizontal or Peer to Peer (P2P) in its interactions and all stakeholders are requiring more openness and transparency. As business leaders, employees, customers, and all stakeholders continue their journey towards ever greater levels of openness and transparency, the demands for capturing, measuring, and utilizing the digital trustworthiness or relationship capital of an individual, workgroup, and/or product/service will only increase. It’s about winning with talent, trust, and innovation.