At the Effectiveness lab, the credibility of people and society is built on the firm foundation of individual integrity and, subsequently, trust.
That, when we say something to someone, it should be considered the truth. The trust of others that you are truthful is your alibi in society. Freedom from suspicion/doubt by the other side that we are engaging is the rent we pay for seamless, constructive and win-win engagement and transactions. We call the latter the ‘alibi’ in this blog.
We have been back in Uganda for a few years now – and we have learnt, painfully, that before we trust, we are expected to doubt those with whom we relate and work in our daily life and, in turn, those that interact with us should also doubt before trusting.
As a society, we don’t have the alibi that facilitates trusting-relationships be it personal, but especially business. The contagion that has resulted is very concerning and undermines the effectiveness of everything we do.
The contagion is debilitating because the sheer cerebral bandwidth required to start and close even a simple transaction makes doing business mind-boggling and ineffective.
The unusual drain on our cerebral bandwidth is because we must ensure the efficacy of whatever we choose to do against all the suspicion and negative energy surrounding transactions. Yes, we all want good results for our effort, and the brain power needed to avoid rip-off, loss, and feeling stupid is too much to sustain.
We deploy our best effort and brainpower by trying to be effective in the face of all the negative externalities of a culture of malfeasance and normalised fraud. But here is the catch, we end up diverting cerebral bandwidth away from getting the highest quality outcome in what we originally intended to do/achieve to managing all the anticipated fear of the other party stealing from you.
No wonder, many times, we have ended up a very ineffective lot. And not inadequate because we are inept at what we do, but because we don’t have the values-driven critical mass of people to neutralise the deviants on the opposite side and help us focus on what matters.
It appears to us at the Effectiveness lab that what is ‘right is wrong and wrong is right’. Those who try to live by their souls and hearts are disdained for being forthright and truthful. To those on the opposite side, this is exhibiting the wrong and unusual behaviour of being straight and sincere.
The sheer number of people that choose to be unfaithful or doubtful of everyone they deal with means that the culture of doubt, and therefore no alibi, is well established. Is it now behaviour and okay behaviour, not to be truthful or trusting?
The contagion effect
The situation is so bad that everyone doubts everyone – and what results is doubt and increasingly, avoidance of human-resources that would have been the most qualified/efficient to do work for you – or even the nuclear option of simply avoiding doing business in the ‘pearl of Africa’.
We assume it’s a rare accident to be honest and that sooner than later, the honest shall revert to the default – deviance and taking away from others and giving less or nothing in return.
We are, in effect, party to sustaining the status quo. But what choice do we have not to? Have our guard down and be eaten for breakfast by the opposite side?
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