Trouble in the Kinship Economy

Starling Team
By: Stephen Scott

As we move into an election year, the data is clear: the public has lost trust in the government and, indeed, in a majority of our key social institutions.

The history of the last two centuries is one that features the establishment of institutions which served to create the basis of trust among strangers, at scale, as a presumed norm.

I may not know or trust you, nor you me, but if we have a contract and we both have faith in the courts to keep one another honest, we can do business together. But if either or both of us believe the judge to be corrupt…? Then the fabric of our “trust infrastructure” is rent. And when that happens, we return to a norm of dealing only with those whom we know well. Trust at scale is lost, along with the economics of scale.

As the public’s faith in our shared trust infrastructure has eroded over the last decade, we see everywhere a tendency to place trust only in “a person like me.” However, the technologies of the day have enabled us to identify and connect with peers in new ways. It is, therefore, not an accident of history that we’ve witnessed the birth of the “peer to peer” business model quite recently. More on that here.

New, digital platforms are allowing “peers” to self-identify, self-organize, and collaborate at scale, courtesy of the “digital trust infrastructure” established by companies like Airbnb. Let me say a bit more about all of this and then close with a few thoughts about what it implies going forward.

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Obsessing About Rules Won’t Improve Culture

Starling Team
Stephen J. Scott and Jeffrey Kupfer

The topic of culture filled the late-summer headlines following a New York Times piece critical of the “bruising workplace” at Amazon. How workplace environment can drive good or bad behavior has also occupied the bank regulators’ time for a while now. Starling was recently featured in an article by the American Banker where we lay out our approach to how to improve culture in the financial industry.

Here’s the link to the feature article – www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/obsessing-about-rules-wont-improve-culture-1078412-1.html . If you have any comments or would like to learn more about Starling Trust, you can always reach us here.

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Follow the Leader: The Effects of Situational Power and Control

Starling Team

In 1971, a team of researchers from Stanford University embarked on what was to become the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. The premise was simple: split the participants into two roles, prisoners and guards. The participants were placed into a prison environment. None of these participants had backgrounds of violence. How would they react to their new roles? While you hoped it would be with civility, you would be wrong.

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In Trump We Trust

Starling Team

According to Rasmussen Reports’ latest Trump Change survey, 62% of likely Republican voters expect Donald Trump to be their nominee for the presidency next year. Back when he announced his candidacy, only 29% held that view.

I’ve been pondering the Trump phenomenon in the last few weeks. Despite his often-bizarre commentary on topics ranging from Mexico, China, and Megyn Kelly, Trump has picked up steam and held on to front-runner status.

More importantly, as The Economist notes, “It is not just Tea Party Folk and whites without a college education who like him; so do a lot of evangelical Christians, who might be expected to look askance, and many self-described moderates.”

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Starling presents at the 2BAhead conference in Germany

Starling Team

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