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Swift Trust


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Characteristics of temporary systems | Key factors that make for swift trust


Sometimes there is no time to build a trusting relationship, such as when group of people are thrown together and must start work immediately. A classic example of this is on the movie set. Make-up artists, key grips, stunt-men and many others are all on the job from day one, with little or no ‘getting to know you’ sessions. They must work out their differences on the fly and blindly trust one another to do their jobs.

Characteristics of temporary systems

Temporary systems such as the movie set or organizational task force, where people are brought together to complete a given task, have common factors which may include:

  • Many different skills, assembled by a contracting organization to perform a defined task.
  • Limited history of working together and unlikely to work together ever again.
  • Complex and on-standard tasks which are only partly understood.
  • Interdependent tasks that require a high degree of collaboration.
  • Tight timescales and high cost of failure.

Key factors that make for swift trust

Swift trust does not just happen. There are factors in the environment which are preconditions by enable and encourage trust to be given and used well.

Aligned activity

Linked overall goals, rewards and penalties. By putting people in the same boat, such that they share the glories of reaching the shore and sink or swim together, they are forced to develop a system of trust.

Interdependence. If they are independent, no trust is needed. If some are more dependent on others, then power positions are created with a much less trusting environment.

Constrained environment

Time. If there is no time to develop trust slowly, the pace is forced. Slack time also give space in which idle hands can be turned to selfish or non-productive activities.

Just-enough resources. There should be sufficient resources to do the job, otherwise battles for resource will erode trust. Too much resource is simply wasteful.

Non-person focus

Professional role focus. A focus on acting as and treating others as professionals leads to trust in their professional capabilities.

Task/process focus. Focusing on the task or process removes focus on the people. If there seems to be a personal problem, refocusing on the process and context that caused the problem is more productive and supports trust.

Trust broker

Hires, fires and leads the charge. A central person who recruits everyone is responsible for ensuring everyone is professional and can perform as above. If they are the chief ‘designer’ of the system (such as a movie director or project manager), they are a single point where issues of difference are clearly resolved.

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