Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sorry is a word

John Varley The Chief executive of Barclays Bank says that the banking industry is going through what he calls a public relations crisis, that it must apologise for what went wrong - because banks will not regain the vital trust of customers unless and until they own up to the sins of the past and say sorry.

Apart from pointing the finger at the failures of the banking industry (see my last post), one can ask what he really means by sorry.

He has a long way to go.

People confer trust on organisations. To do that they need some form of relationship. Progressively such relationships can become a trusted relationship based on experience of behaviours.

Banking behavious in all manner of relationships has a track record. It is diverse. It is networked between different publics and stakeholders. Relationships are not always two way and many relationships are formed beyond the control or wit of organisation.

For example, of the 42 new web pages about Barclays Bank today, only two were directly under the control of the bank perhaps a further ten included content mediated by the bank and all the rest were prompted by a community commenting in various ways about the bank.

At this stage, one might ask if John Varley means the banking industry is sorry for corrupting relationships because by looking at the range of people and institutions commenting about just one bank, close scruteny suggests that there is a long way to go before effective working relationhips (two way semetrical?) have been established and even further to go to identify trusting relationships.

The sinners of the past whose practices created toxic relatiohips are still in post and will have to change a lot if they are going to have any impact on relationships (first) and trust.

Perhaps they could start with transparent engagement.

One thing that they are going to have to come to terms with is the nature of wealth. John Varley made me wince when he said that:

"As soon as asset prices stabilise, then we will see the financial economy recover. And when will that occur? That will occur some time over the course of the next 18 months."

One can only wonder what he means by asset price.

An asset price is the measure of the value of an exchange between a willing seller and willing buyer.

There are lots of stable asset prices like the price of photo assets on Facebook. The price is measured in the enhanced value of relationships brought about by the photo.

A hyperlink in Delicious is an asset and such assets have a value and a price. The asset price, once again based on relationships has not changed much this month - or even this year and so there is asset price stability.

Looking at the asset price of a steel works or houses also depends on relationhip networks.

So is John Varley suggesting that he is really looking for stable relationships?

Good man!

Who is his relationships manager?

The relationship management model may also be of some help too.

Picture: The William Heath Robinson Trust