Trying to trust

I was brainstorming with BDT’s coach (yes, we call her Coach), and she mentioned the importance of feeling like you can trust everyone in your group. And that totally reminded me of a bunch of stuff I’ve learned about trust over the past years! So this week’s post is about Trust.

Ross Smith, a Director of Test at Microsoft, took a bunch of theories about trust and now regularly puts them to the test. I had the good fortune of working in his organization for a short time, and it was pretty amazing to see the transformation he achieved in a short period of time. Ross is tricky. He uses crowd sourcing and game techniques to improve results. In other words, he turns things into games that encourage people inside and outside his organization to play and compete. The genius of it is that people end up spending extra time on projects that they aren’t even responsible for–because it’s so fun and personally rewarding for them.

Here’s an article about when Ross first created a game framework that encouraged trust behaviors inside his group. Click the link, and then first scroll down to Benefits and Metrics and read that dense paragraph. Here’s an example of some of the results:

“Our retention numbers were 20% to 50% higher than our historical numbers”

“We saw between a 10% to 60% improvement in productivity, as measured by a number of different metrics”

Okay, now go back and read that dense article to learn the specifics. Since we’re talking about software here, it was all done in a systematic way that he could measure. Out of the process, his group came up with a list of 150 trust building behaviors that they would track and turn into a game.

In another interview, Ross lists the sources of his inspiration on Trust. Scroll down to the very bottom of the interview for the list of sources.

So as musicians in a band with a couple members, we probably don’t have to be all systematic and scientific about it. My only reason for linking to those interviews is to build the case that organizational trustworthiness has been measured and it’s a huge pile of awesomeness. You can even take the next logical step: an increase in productivity should help make an increase in income. Of course income doesn’t matter so much if you’re stressed out and burned out–but again the numbers show that happiness increases just as much on average.

So it’s pretty clear that Trust is going to make a significant impact on the success of your band.

And by the way, back when I was working for Ross, he created the environment that produced a tool called the Conversation Analyzer. It analyzes your IM conversations (using a communications program called Lync) for trust building language, and gives you a score. You can track how you progress toward being someone who is trustworthy and encourages trust building.

Now, go back to that list of 150 trust building behaviors and actually take a look at it. It’s something we could spend the rest of our lives working on. So, in addition to everything else we’re working on, let’s just spend the next year focusing on maybe one or two off that list. And then move to the next, and so on. As the data shows, we’ll be happier and more productive.

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