Log bridge

Building Swift Trust

by Christopher Meyer on 12/18/2009

One of the challenges working wider brings is that for most of the time and most of the people, you’re not physically present.  This takes us right to the heart of the working wider challenge:  how do you extend your influence when you’re not there?

Influence starts with trust.  Without trust, only fools take initiative and risk.

When working wider, people are prone to operate on what we call Swift Trust. (ref:  Meyerson, Weick and Kramer, Swift Trust and Temporary Groups).  In swift trust, people act as if trust was present, even though there hasn’t been enough history to warrant its development.  Clearly launching a new project via an email stream or a video conference isn’t sufficient.   Swift trust develops when leaders attend to five factors:

  1. Compelling overall goals, rewards and penalties:  Start with a compelling cause and then put folks in the same boat such that they sink or swim together. (see earlier post Working Wider Starts with a Cause).
  2. Balanced interdependence:  Make sure the work requires interdependent efforts and balance these dependencies as much as possible.  When some are more dependent than others, power positions evolve that undermine trust.
  3. 3. Inject constraints: Time and resource constraints create the pressure that drives swift trust growth.
  4. Drive for incremental progress with evidence: Focus attention using a clinical investigator’s mindset. Keep people’s personalities and blame out of the conversation and focus on surfacing evidence to guide actions.
  5. Transparent Enforcing Leadership: Sets the standards for professionalism and deal with aberrations directly and quickly.  Trust grows when others see leaders address failures quickly.

Trust is central to innovation.  In the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg intended to shoot a fight scene with Harrison Ford using a sword in a battle with his opponent holding a whip.  That day, both Spielberg and Ford were ill so they decided to have Ford just pull out a gun and shoot his opponent.  This improvisation became a well-known scene that both drew on and reinforced the trust amongst the entire crew.

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student loan May 7, 2010 at 4:24 am

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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