Trust management

Blog Post 3/9/2009

Winner of Charles H. Green’s Trust Matters, “Carnival of Trust” Top 10 Articles:

Last week about 20 individuals participated in a Kaizen event to re-design an out of control process that had been neglected for years. The mission of the event has become all the more critical due to the organizational changes which threw our already broken process into a tailspin.

A pre-Kaizen event meeting was held to lay out the scope of our process and provide guidance as to the rules of our event. This is a process of expectation leveling which is important to allow the redesign to happen more organically and to remove some pre-conceived notions about what we can or can’t do. So the rules we agreed to were:

  • Organization of staff can be changed as is necessary.
  • No new staff can be added.
  • No staff can be fired.
  • No new technology solutions may be purchased.
  • All participants are equal.
  • The new process will be implemented within 90 days of the event (starting day one after the event).
  • Have fun.

This is where the level of trust is first established. There is a level set in regards to how the event will proceed and what we expect to get out of it.

Entering any event which allows line staff to be on level with upper management requires a significant amount of trust to provide a non-political outcome. Likewise, there is a balance to any group that must be established through numbers where the group isn’t so large it cannot make decisions but not so small that a single individual can control the outcome.

For our group all of these components fell into place and we redesigned a 123 step (78 hand-off, 209 avg day) process into a 64 step 100 day process that even included a huge new value-add component on the front end. Unfortunately the participants all knew how political both the organizational and process issues were. At the eleventh hour we stared those political issues in the face. So which rules changed to allow this?

  • Organizational change can only occur if it occurs in the way part of upper management wants (in other words the outcome they had been hoping for before this event ran).
  • Not everyone is equal.
  • The new process may not be implemented.

Obviously this is a major break in trust. The sponsors (and upper management decision makers) had changed the rules to suit their needs.

The facilitators did what they could to restore order to the process and console those of us affected by the trust break. The problem is that trust management goes beyond risk management, or process management – a mistake in trust management leaves you untrustworthy and there is no quick recovery to that problem.

When making organizational change remember what your parents told you; “Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose, so protect it well.”