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Trust Issues

Veteran international investor John Corey comments

The software industry has a well-earned reputation for a failure to manage complexity. The complexity is fierce, and the software engineers are very optimistic about being able to get the job done. History tells us that the promised software arrives late, over budget, and incomplete. 

The industry that reminds me the most of my years in the software sector is real estate (property). Projects miss deadlines, budgets are blown and the attention to finishing the small details is lacking.

The software industry can claim it is inventing the future. In contrast, most building projects are replicating what has already been done multiple times in multiple cities. Cash investors backing developments and land projects are often left wondering what happened when things go wrong. There is just enough success out there to cause fresh attempts by many people to get rich quick. And then there is leverage, oh, the leverage. 

Robert Cialdini released Influence in 1984. He intended the book to be a guide so people can avoid intentional manipulation by sellers of goods and services. What happened? The public did not take to the book but the people who wanted to sell more loved it.

The book spells out exactly why six fundamental principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity, cause you and me to do things we would not otherwise do. It turns out that society benefits most of the time because of these automatic behaviour triggers.

If you have attended the pitch-fest type events in property you will see this in action and you will feel a powerful tug to succumb to the triggers. The manipulation is useful in many or most situations. It gets out of hand of course when used intentionally to deceive. There is a fine, moral line. Not everyone at the front of the room has a functional, ethical compass. And there are times when the person at the front of the room honestly believes that what they are saying on the stage is right or suitable for you. 

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