I joined the Trust hacking group as part of my participation in the Management 2.0 Hackathon. We have gone from a long list of characteristics, down to a set of four (first week summary care of Chris Grams):

A few highlights from the first week:

·       In the Openness group, our most active group, Vlatka Hlupic started the conversation and we already have 12 mini hacks submitted by five different contributors.

·       In the Trust group, Santa Clara University professor Terri Griffith has shared some key thinking on organizational trust from the academic world to give us a solid foundation for our hacking. [pdf of review article on Trust]

·       In the Autonomy group, Susanne Ramharter has started an interesting discussion about what we mean by autonomy that has generated interesting thoughts from Josh Allan Dykstra and Deb Mills-Scofield.

·       The Experimentation and Serendipity group is our most popular group with Todd Fitch leading the way and hackathon coach Steve Denning already joining in on the discussion.

I joined the Trust group as I think it's the foundation for all the others. I grabbed the definitions from the other perspectives:

§  "Openness: Organizations should openly engage employees and external communities in new ways, including sharing information transparently and involving more diverse groups of people when making decisions. "

Without trust, people won't do this. Show stopper.

§  "Autonomy: Organizations should shed rigid policy guidelines, tight spending limits, and lack of self-directed time and encourage local, grass-roots initiatives." 

Again, without trust that those with freedom won't turn against you, autonomy is unlikely to be supported.

§  "Experimentation | To evolve more rapidly, organizations should experiment more cheaply and more frequently, creating an environment where fast-paced, strategic experimentation thrives. Serendipity | Organizations should increase the odds of value-creating happenstance by encouraging diverse groups of people to make more diverse and more frequent connections."

I sound like a broken record, but people won't experiment if they aren't willing to trust the results, nor will they be comfortable with happenstance.

To round it out, here is the starter definition for trust in this context:

§  "Organizations should strive to build high-trust, low-fear work cultures where risk taking is encouraged, information is broadly shared, and conflicting opinions are expressed in an environment of mutual respect."

I believe that the most effective organizations have high-trust, low-fear settings where information is shared and conflicts are taken on as puzzles rather than battles. I've had the pleasure of talking with execs who put these ideas into action and have yet to hear a story where they wish they had trusted less.

So a few thought questions:

1.   Does trust come first as I claim above?

2.   What organizational examples show the value of trust?

3.   What organizational examples show the risk of trust? On that one I'll refer us back to the pdf link above. Schoorman, Mayer, and Davis (2007) offer us "An integrative model of organizational trust: Past, present, and future.

Two of their points especially resonate with me. The first is that trust is a "willingness to take risk." The second is about being realistic. There will be situations where the risk is too high to rely on trust. There we can look to organizational control systems to bring the risk to an acceptable level where trust can again be relied upon.