August 1998 / Special Feature : An Issue Of Trust
Trust In Whom
by Peter Block
Emergency Room Physician
Air Traffic Controller
Dan Oestrich on Trust
When Dan Oestreich talks about trust he concludes that
having faith, believing in others and taking risks are essential ingredients.
Oestreich found that positive relationships within the
team and with other teams were critical to success. People were doing their
best technically but also needed a high level of trust for the project to
be completed by the year 2000. Each member had to follow through on personal
commitments and had to trust that others would fulfill their commitments
as well, in an environment of rapidly changing decisions, unforeseen problems
and a very high-stakes deadline.
The project team answered this question withenhanced collaboration.
Simply telling others what to do, arguing over the best
solution to problems, failing to acknowledge others work demands and
not trusting that others really wanted to help all surfaced as barriers
to success. Collaborationworking properly through challenges togetherwas
viewed as the pragmatic alternative.
Unfortunately, many people feel they have been burned in
the past and that theyd be naive to trust people at work too much.
Creating more trust means letting go of this cynical baggage and behaving
in ways that break through the negative assumptions, including surfacing
sensitive undiscussible issues.
This isnt as much about human nature as it is about cultural norms. Human nature is what people agree to believe it isthis is about culture, not absolute truth.
Oestreich points to an example from his work. A common
norm in many organizations is to assume low trust is caused by somebody
else and there is nothing you can do, so no one takes the first step.
He says that the first changes often reside in the deeper levels of self-knowledge
and integrity that enable personal risk-taking.