The biggest one of these is the fall in trust, and particularly trust in traditional, hierarchical, status and authority based relationships. The bank managers, accountants, solicitors, judges, politicians, newspaper editors, CEOs and maybe even consultants. All those people we used to look upwards to and be deferential to basically - and whom we don’t do so to anymore.
This is partly a Western trait but whenever I’m away in Asia, Africa and South America I make a point of asking about this and the answer’s basically the same - deference is falling - maybe from a higher starting point, but it’s still falling. I’ve not seen this work its way through into any surveys of national culture, eg to Hofstede’s or Trompenaars’ power distance scales, but I’m sure in time we will.
The survey which does capture the trend is Edelman’s global Trust Barometer which firstly shows the decline in trust, and particularly in authority based trust over the last decade and beyond. And which suggests that one of the relationships which has become most important during this period is what Edelman call a PLY - a Person Like Yourself.
The good news about this is that becoming a PLY is a pretty easy thing to do - you just need to find some connection that brings you together as people and reminds you that the other person is a human being too. This can be as simple as having come from the same home town or having been to the same place on holiday, or both supporting the same football team or having the same taste in music, or, or, or…
This PLY based trust is the basis for so much of what is required in today’s world of work - social communication, social learning, social anything at all really.
And it means that everyone needs to communicate in the new social way. Ie a CEO can’t rely on influencing his or her organisation by simply getting the Internal Comms person to include scripted, bland messages inside the monthly company magazine (partly because nobody reads it and also because it they do they won’t believe it anyway.) So instead smart executives will blog and vlog, unscripted and unrehearsed, and will sometimes write or talk about what they’ve been doing as people, not just as CEOs (so they’re helping present themselves as PLYs as well.)
There’s more to it than this of course, and we’ll come to some of these other factors later on.