Steve Iman

en*thu*si*asm \in-'th(y)uze-az-em\ n [Gk enthouslamos, fr enthouslazein to be inspired, fr entheos inspired, fr en- + theos god] a 1 : belief in special revelations b : fanaticism 2 a : strong excitement of feeling : FERVOR b : something inspiring zeal or fervor syn see PASSION


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Trust and Simplicity

 Trust is a huge issue with businesses right now, whether they 'get it', or not. I don't remember a time in my life when public trust in top managers and institutions was lower.  Obama's call for transparency and openness is striking a chord with the public, and the widespread derision of chief executives flying corporate jets to Washington to ask for bailout money, or dishing out the billions as the public covers corporate losses -- the issues may continue to build and corrode the faith needed to sustain us. Recent surveys in December of 2008 showed that among 1,200 adults in a national survey, trust in banks, mortgage lenders and brokers plunged 40% in less than a year. Things have gone down precipitously from there. Corporate strategies which assume that "customer beware" ought to be the rule of the game, and that manipulate through advertising gimmicks, are likely to worsen the common situation. 

Fully 63% of respondents to one recent survey feel that business flagrantly makes things more complicated in order to  hide risks. Firms which simplify products, services, and communications may benefit in this climate. Corporations need more than capital infusions and better governance. They need to move away from unintelligible service packages and bundled packages which make you buy things you don't need. Who know what's in their phone bill? Government could generate trust by simplifying too. One ought not require an advanced degree in accounting in order to pay one's taxes. And one ought not to need a lawyer in order to understand their commercial contracts. Few organizations have made an issue of simplicity, though those who have have surely benefitted. 

Think of Nordstroms with generally good customer service far ahead of the pack -- emerging as it does from simple principles and not complex rules. Think of Apple, the citadel of simple, engaging design. Warren Buffett has always stayed with ordinary words, and his annual reports are read by many thousands for wisdom and pleasure. Simplicity and transparency could lead us to a new honesty as we reboot America. Openness strengthens relations among people, and we need that trust. If we even try to go through the mess we're in at the current levels of mistrust, I suspect we'll be more quite a long time. Let's keep things simple.