‘Trusted Observers’

Trusted Observers

Global Guilds must act like TRUSTED OBSERVERS by which organizations gain an undistorted overview of globally-defined threats without breaching confidentiality

FOR A GLOBAL Guild to act as a figurative Sat Nav for its members it must fulfill three distinct roles. The first is as ‘Trusted Observer’. In effect, this role behaves like an undistorted mirror that accurately reflects current reality. A Global Guild needs to provide an unbiased and trusted insight into what exactly is going on with regard to globally-defined threats to economic stability. At the moment, no individual corporation (or government) knows these things – although between them they hold all the keys needed to unlock the answers. Members of a given industry need a shared ‘head-up display’ of where the international community truly is, not where for political and commercial reasons members have to say that they are.

Yet different corporations cannot learn the full truth directly from each other, any more than countries can, because so many of the facts provide commercial and diplomatic leverage that none of the interested parties wants to give away. No profit-oriented organization, for instance, is going to tell another organization the whole unadulterated truth about topics such as peak-oil or overfishing any more than different governments will tell each other the whole truth about what they know.

That is why corporate members within a given Global Guild need an alternative way for them to learn the full facts and appreciate the complex uncertainties, free of spin. To be fully effective, the whole integrated set of industries within a given Guild needs to see the same unobstructed view. For members to benefit from an undistorted reflection of what is truly going on (in, for example, global warming or banking abuses or finning or water depletion or cyberterrorism), they need a trusted inside third-party to gather potentially-sensitive data and then share the patterns that can be synthesised from such otherwise-confidential insights.

By analogy with the fleet of competitive oil tankers traversing a sea of shifting icebergs, the Trusted-Observer role is like an accurate Sat Nav display that shows both icebergs and the GPS-locations of rival tankers but without any of the tanker-names being attached. And there is a further very-important element to the Trusted Observer role: It provides a mechanism for members and others to understand the motivation behind apparently-unreasonable actions taken by different industries and governments. Only in this way is it possible to find aligned solutions to otherwise intractable standoffs.

Across innumerable examples, and consistent with decades of prior analysis, I have found no examples whatsoever of national or corporate group-behavior – however seemingly irrational, unfair or ultimately dangerous – that did not in reality turn out merely to be the result of ‘enlightened self-interest’ for the most-influential players. However confusing or objectionable the resultant actions are to outsiders, what all such groups do makes sense, at least to those people who are on the inside.

Whether it is the insistence by successive US-governments of the rights of its citizens to consume profligate quantities of low-duty fuel despite the environmental impacts, or the maintenance by the EU of unsustainable fishing quotas for heavily-subsidized fleets, or the attempts by some religious groups to deny women and gays basic human rights, or even the adoption of terrorism by some Islamic extremists – there is always an understandable (though typically hidden) logic that justifies the behavior in the minds of those groups involved.

To decode such hidden logic, and then convey it to outsiders in a sufficiently comprehensible way that they can temporarily get inside the heads of those who think that way, is a crucial contribution for Global Guilds to make. Without it, the all-too-human interpretation by other industries, governments and the general public of the behavior of those whose actions exacerbate global crises is to dismiss the perpetrators as being supremely selfish, dangerously stupid or fundamentally evil. None of those assessments tends to be correct. As a result, the counter-strategies taken by businesses, governments and others risk being precariously misguided.