Remote Trust: Making strategic decisions when your team works remote

Tommy Jamet and Gautier Hartzer


The benefits and beauty of face-to-face communication are clear

Face-to-face makes it easier to tell what someone else is really thinking. We know that because what we say accounts for less than 10% of what we communicate. Body language does the rest. You can’t read the body language of someone you can’t see.
But how can you factor in trust when making strategic decisions if you can’t meet face-to-face?
We all know how easy it is to misinterpret a text or email. We like to look someone in the eye when they’re sharing important information that can affect how we think about the important decisions we make in life and at work.
A lack of in-person communication can mean we miss out on the reasoning behind decisions. It can make those that advise us feel less accountable, what Nicholas Nassim Taleb calls “skin in the game.”
Just think about all the times you rely on the physical presence of another person to make a decision. Let’s take signatures, for example.
The most trusted way to authenticate a document today is a handwritten signature, which is extremely easy to falsify. Even children do it to their parents all the time.
Signature forgery is one of the most common types of forgery. Cheques, money orders, investment documents, corporate documents and identification documents are all routinely created with and fulfilled with falsified signatures.
It is, obviously, one of the simplest types of forgery to commit when you’re not in the physical presence of the counterparty to witness the signature first hand.
We can’t expect every document to be fulfilled through a notary, so what’s the answer?
Humans have relied on face-to-face communication forever, partly for a lack of a better alternative, but mostly because it works. For organisations to function at scale, remotely, leadership needs to trust the data they’re given to make reliable strategic decisions.
Imagine you’re discussing sensitive data over a conference call that’s vital to determine how best to move forward with an acquisition, a marketing strategy, or how to restructure the team. You need to rely on the quality of information, the people giving it to you, and that no one outside the call is privy.
Today, for the first time ever, the technology we need to make strategic decisions in a remote world has emerged.


The potential role of Blockchain in a ‘trustless’ world

Blockchain enables the emergence of ‘trustless systems’ where we can rely on data given, without requiring physical presence.
Here’s how the binance glossary defines a trustless system: “A trustless system means that the participants involved do not need to know or trust each other or a third party for the system to function. In a trustless environment, there is no single entity that has authority over the system, and consensus is achieved without participants having to know or trust anything but the system itself.” [Source: here]
As a simple example, with Blockchain, you could use zero-knowledge proofs as a verification tool for entry to conference calls. That way you would know, immutably, that the people on the call are who they say they are.
We could easily imagine companies operating completely remotely where employees are only required to perform relevant actions in the validation chain, whilst management maintain overview at all times, and remain able to escalate any blockage and make effective decisions.
The primary benefits of Blockchain in corporate governance is that it increases efficiency by removing administrative burdens, mitigates the risk of fraud through an immutable audit trail, and generates greater transparency.


Blockchain opportunities and applications for remote strategic decision making

  • Audit trail / Record keeping. Using Blockchain technology will allow an auditable trail of verifiable information to ensure correct data for decisions.
  • Digital Identity. Blockchain facilitates the concept of trustlessness, meaning someone can prove their identity without being physically present.
  • Real time accounting. Finances affect decisions. With a Blockchain-based solution, you could trust the real-time integrity of your financial data.
  • Intellectual Property / Property ownership. If a strategic decision requires knowledge of any specific IP or property, Blockchain uses a timestamp which no one can tamper and records all transactions for ownership verification.
  • Smart Contracts. A smart contract can monitor, execute, and enforce an agreement automatically. You could securely and automatically transfer anything of value like cash, for example, without the risk of fraud or extra middlemen, thus reducing cost, too.
  • Voting. If your strategic decision making requires a boardroom vote, you can execute them securely and transparently, wherever in the world the board members are.

We can imagine a world where senior management can make effective decisions based on reliable data, with minimal risk of fraud, no matter where in the world each individual is.

Blockchain Reply is currently working on a number of client projects to implement infrastructure and strategies that achieve these benefits.

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