The 2014 CEO Retreat in Cartagena marks the 25th major meeting since the Global Business Polilcy Council was established in 1992. While keeping with the traditions and format of the sessions as intimate, off-the-record discussions, a few A.T. Kearney leaders will be sharing insights about the key topics and themes throughout the event. Please register to add your comments to this discussion.

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Another Perspective on Trust in a Digital World

The buzzword word at our Global Business Policy Council CEO Retreat in Cartagena has clearly been “trust”—which we looked at from all angles. There’s a growing lack of trust in our companies, governments, and societies. There’s the ongoing risk of losing it, even at the first hint of a mistake—and then the tremendous challenge of regaining it. For leaders, there’s the imperative to do what’s necessary to restore and protect it, almost at any cost. Trust, in short, is a relationship currency that is always at risk of being depreciated. 

One of the questions raised is where technology helps or hurt trust-based relationships. As the forever-young 82-year-old French philosopher and Stanford Professor Michel Serres explains, the digital revolution has redefined our relationships across the board—with time, space, knowledge, work, and, of course, other people. With information (right or wrong) fully and instantly available at our fingertips 24/7, we will always find a source for distrust and skepticism. So, we have to invent new and proper ways of dealing with this transformation, ways of ensuring that technology doesn’t erode but rather helps build trust.

Just like any other relationship, trust requires two parties. Yet, we tend to look at it solely as the accountability of those in leadership positions: executives, government, or other organizational leaders. What about our responsibility—as employees, citizens, partners, friends, followers—to give trust to those we have elected, selected, or otherwise decided to join?

Of course, following this direction would require that we embrace the concepts of presumption of good and forgiveness, and have the confidence that people in leadership positions will learn from their mistakes and therefore need our active support. It’s quite a change from the way Western civilization is going! Yes, there will be mistakes and setbacks, and the leap of faith is undeniable—but what if this was the price to pay for, or rather the beauty of, tomorrow’s world starting today?  

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Contributors Contributors

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Johan Aurik
Johan Aurik
Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board
Paul A. Laudicina
Paul A. Laudicina
Chairman Emeritus and Chairman of GBPC
Erik R. Peterson
Erik R. Peterson
Partner and GBPC Managing Director
Daniel Mahler
Daniel Mahler
Head of Americas
Maria Eugenia Fanjul
Maria Eugenia Fanjul
Head of Colombia
Xavier Mesnard
Xavier Mesnard
Partner
Alex Liu
Alex Liu
Partner