Posts tagged ‘trust’



In early January I found myself in the strange position of telling my father I had faith in his recovery and that he needed to have some too. Constantly faced with set backs due to infections that are inevitable when in the hospital for four months, he was weak in body and thus weak in mind. He would have let himself go at that point and as he told my brother, his heart was too strong to let him. So I found myself at his bedside after work telling him that I believed he would recover to the point that life would be worth living.

What is faith? Is it believing in capital g, God, or Allah, or the pantheon of the Norse? Is is choosing to believe that there is nothing beyond this life, that this mortal coil is all we have? Faith is any and all of those. Faith is believing in something and holding it as your very core. When you believe in something, it becomes your lamp post in the forest. From that place you can map out the world, and cling to it when the maelström surrounds you.

Life is chaotic. No matter how hard you try, life will always be unpredictable. You can make choices that swing the odds towards good things happening, and in the end all you have is your choices. So what do you do when bad things happen? You have to believe. That’s it, believe. You could believe that the world is out to get you, that it is never your fault and I don’t think that leads to a happy and fulfilling life. Believe in something positive and make that the foundation of your happiness.

When your faith is the foundation of your happiness, nothing can take it away from you. When you stripped naked before the world you can say, I believe, and I know I will be happy. It doesn’t mean you are always happy, it just means you know happiness is in you and you will be happy again. I think where people fail is they externalize their faith.

When you believe in a capital g God, you believe in an entity that is external to you. So you can attribute all actions, good and bad, to this external entity it leaves you foundering when things happen that make you unhappy. You can choose blind faith where you believe all their actions are good because, well, they’re God and that doesn’t tell you why so you will remain unhappy.

So what happens when you accept that you don’t know “WHY”? You are released from searching for answers that don’t exist and the unhappiness of a fruitless pursuit. And the only true why you can’t figure out is the big two, life and death. Pretty much everything else has some sort of answer and it is up to you to choose whether it is gods will, or because a butterfly flapped its wings. If you accept that life and death happen then you can stop asking why and start focusing on happiness.

I believe in me and I believe I will be happy, maybe not now but again soon if not now. I have faith. Do you?


More on Trust

I wanted to share this presentation by Rachel Davies (@rachelcdavies) on trust. Rachel did a presentation in November 2010 on building trust that is worth watching. You can find the presentation here. I also wrote about trust here, here, and here.

Tags: ,

Measuring Trust

How do you measure trust? This was not a question I expected myself to ask. Isn’t trust one of those things you have, or you don’t? I know there are degrees, or levels, to trust and I didn’t think I would ever need to measure it. Working with my colleague Keith Cerny and others on how to build high performing Scrum teams, we came to the realization it would be useful to measure trust. Without trust, the teams are not likely going to become high performing, so how can we help them with building trust?

So we need a starting point, a measurement of how much trust there is in our organization. That is trust between team members, and trust between teams and management. With a starting point we can measure the effect of changes on trust. I think the bigger question is, how deep do we want to go in measuring trust? We could keep it simple, like Net Promoter Score, and ask on a scale of zero to ten, “how much do you trust X?”. Or we could create a complex questionnaire that really digs into trust.

A quick search with Google reveals that measuring trust is a new model for some businesses. The big name in the business is Steven Covey Jr., and his new book “At the Speed of Trust“. According to the Speed of Trust web site this is a complex issue because they are”…measuring not simply a trust level but the specific trust components that make up the trust score.“. Wow, that is a lot more complex than “how much do you trust X?”. Then there is a Canadian company, Trust Learning Solutions, which also offers to measure your “organizational trust index”, and/or the individual levels of trust. Again, it sounds like measuring trust is a complex art that requires a PhD to understand. That is perhaps not far from the truth when you look at the Harvard study found here, or at the white paper published by the Institute of Public Relations.

Personally, I am a fan of simple solutions. We might not be able to come up with an eleven point scale of trust similar to the Net Promoter Score, however perhaps a six point scale will work. Starting at zero, which would correspond to “I don’t trust X to tell me the time of day”, to a five which is “I trust X to to always say what they are thinking (without being either defensive or offensive) and do what they say”. And I hope we never see a zero on a survey.

Tags: , ,

Walking the talk

I have a weekly meeting with the staff in my office, open to all in our business unit as well as my direct reports. In this meeting I update the staff on what is going on at other campuses and within the company. In the meeting following my attendance of Agile Open 2011 session hosted by the Toronto Agile Community, I shared some of my thoughts and referred the staff to my blog on the conference. And much to my surprise, not only did some of them read it but they went through the site and read the rest of what I had posted. I then received an email challenging me to ‘walk the talk’.

I posted that one reason for starting this blog was because there was a lack of dialogue about agile and other topics in our office. The email I received challenged me to bring one topic to every staff meeting for discussion. The sender offered to support the dialogue and would bring their own topics for discussion by the group. Ok, now I had to come up with a topic for our first session. The very next day, following posting of notes from the Scrum of Scrums (SoS), I received an email about one of the points in the meeting notes. At the SoS, the group discussed making managers Scrummasters. The email I received indicated that the employee thought this was a very bad idea. Excellent, a topic for my first session.

Actually, ‘walk the talk’, or the say-do gap, comes up on a fairly regular basis. Trust is a big factor in agile. Without trust between team members, and teams and management, agile doesn’t really work. Closing the say-do gap is an easy way to build trust. It isn’t always easy thing to see though. For example, our group has a policy of no meetings on Wednesday’s for the staff. However, the managers trying to book meetings with staff across at least two different time zones and sometimes 3 or more locations, found the empty space on Wednesdays very convenient. We started to book meetings on Wednesdays until the topic came up at a SoS. We, the managers, were breaking down trust because we were not following the agreement to not book meetings on Wednesdays. This didn’t actually occur to us until a colleague in another group pointed it out. We needed to close our say-do gap by leaving Wednesdays meeting free.

And our first ever open discussion about agile in a staff meeting was a success. It was a success because almost everyone contributed to the discussion. The overall sentiment was that managers as Scrummasters is a bad idea. There were a few suggestions on how to improve the role of Scrummasters which I shared with the other managers. I look forward to our next meeting and discussion.

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: