“It all comes down to trust – if I give you my money, can I trust you to be a good custodian of it? And that’s ultimately the difference between alumni fundraising vs. development – one you ask for money, and with the other they want to give it to you.” -Steve Lopez, Chief Business Officer, Dept. of Bioengineering, UCSD”
Trust is a funny thing, in that one screw-up can undo all those years of work you’ve put into developing it.
From my interview with Steve, this point came up in reference to the development of a good alumni base for the University of California, San Diego, which I have had the pleasure of calling home for almost four years, and which he’s been at for over 35 years.
Relationships built on trust are ubiquitous, and are not only between two people, but permeates into the technology we consume and purchase. And this is a point that has been at the core of many recent events.
- Can we trust Apple to manufacture our items in a way that’s ethical?
- Can we trust Airbnb to help us out when people trash our homes?
- Can we trust our apps with the information of our friends and family (which is not even ours to give)?
- Can we trust Twitter to not go down when we need it most?
- Can we trust Google, Facebook, et al with our personal information?
Some may argue that privacy is a thing of the past – whether it is or isn’t is an entirely different issue. What I want to bring up here is the issue of “trust.” From dictionary.com, the definition goes as follows:
Trust (noun): reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
As a leader of any sort, on whatever arena it might be on, trust is something you must work to develop. Consistency of execution, coming out with good products that don’t scam users, admitting when you’ve screwed up, and more importantly, doing something about it, is part of developing and keeping user trust.
Increasingly, screw-ups are treated as matter-of-fact. As a normal part of procedure. As part of the evolutionary process in making a great product.
From evolutionary biology, those screw-ups are side-products which are ultimately eliminated from the ecosystem, and it’s those with consistently beneficial mutations which survive (yes, I have an exam in 2 hours on this stuff, sigh).
Apologies of the “we’re sorry” form only go so far, and should not be the way by which companies iterate upon their product. Sure, us users can be forgiving, but ultimately it goes like this:
Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.
So if I give you the money I’ve worked hard to earn, use it well, be a good custodian of it, and don’t screw me over. Because I trust you.