Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Of all Human emotions, I find "trust" to be a really strange concept. We talk about trust as a concept in our every day life, from the dollar bill that declares "In God We Trust", to the notion that we, as individuals, "trust" in the legal entity and validity of the US Government to ensure our bank accounts. Because if you think about it, our paper money could be like monopoly money. The only thing that gives it value, is because we endow it with meaning, and we "trust" that the government would be able to back the value. Originally this was backed by the value and holdings of Gold Reserves, but since we walked away from tying the the US Dollar to the Gold Standard, our financial system is dependent on the trust we place in the US Government.

When we go grocery shopping, we "trust" that we get what we paid for, that we expect that there is a minimum standard of quality and freshness.

Duracell has spent a lot of effort to brand this idea in their batteries - that it's

A stable society can only flourish with trust in the individual responsibility - that people adhere to the same set of rules. Personal relationships work only when individuals trust in each other. That there is something dependable and reliable between two people. Parents trust that their kids will do the right thing. When that trust is broken, it always makes things harder to keep the same open trust in someone new, that trust issues from a past relationship doesn't color the new one.

I struggled with this concept recently, which is why it's so much on my mind. I struggled with a new person I had recently met, particularly after being disappointed by my last long term relationship, but I also run into this trust issue at work all the time. It's been my experience, that no matter what process or system we implement to help us attain some business result, it's success always depends on trusting that everyone conducts their tasks as required, that they stick to the guidelines or rules that have been set.

What's interesting is the culture in my company is very much centered around individual ownership and accountability. That there is this trust that people will perform and do what they are supposed to do. Funny enough, the reality is, it's actually a lot harder assume this "trust". Because while one person might be trusted. It's a lot harder to control for a larger group. Can anyone really expect the same level of consistency?

Normally I consider my self an optimistic person, always willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. But the reality is, that I have a strong tendency to want to control situations and people, because I don't trust that people will do what is right, what is expected of them. Ironically, I railed at this very issue that made me want to bang my head against the wall today. In a nutshell, the global function essentially does not trust the local countries, so when I told them that they would no longer be signing off on the end product, they balked. My argument to them was that they, at the global level, set the standards. It's up to the local countries to follow and execute to those guidelines. It's this whole notion of "Think Globally, Act Locally". They have to trust that the local organizations will keep to the original intent as much as possible, while at the same time using their judgment to make changes to support their market. So I was demanding that they trust the countries, but oddly enough I would struggle to also place this same trust were I in their position.
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