Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The RUSTing of TRUST

Just been reading an article on Trust in HBR (This month’s – September 06 - Issue). Written by Robert Hurly and entitled ‘The decision to trust’.

The author says trust is more often than not the result of analysis and not blind faith or paranoia. He says there are ten factors that determine whether one resorts to trust or distrust in their dealings; 3 of which are related to one’s own personality and the remaining 7 to the situation one is in.


The three personality related factors are: (statements in parenthesis reflect my interpretation)


-          Risk-tolerance (are you ready to take a risk and trust someone?)

-         Level of adjustment (how much adjusted are you with life? do you believe no one can cheat you?)

-         Relative power (how much can you ‘get back’ at the person if he cheats?)


The situation-based factors are: (not necessarily in the below-mentioned order)


-          Security (is the situation that involves delicate security-based issues?)

-          Similarities between the two parties (similarity breeds trust)

-          Aligned interests (does the person want the same things as you do and will she do everything for it?)

-          Capability (is the person capable enough to carry it out)

-          Predictability and integrity (uncertainty never helped?)

-          Level of communication (frank, open and complete communication improves trust)

-          Benevolent concern (you will trust a person who is genuinely kind and lets you know that she wants you to have the best)




KM thought-leaders have for long screamed from roof-tops about trust being one of the most essential ingredients for it (KM) to be a success in any organisation. But how much of it can be influenced by the KM function/initiative? It is clear that trust is too fundamental, person-based and situation-based for KM to play the role of an influencer. Underlying enablers like communication, capability, risk-tolerance etc can be worked upon with adequate top management support but most of the factors on the list are out of control and hugely associated with the individual’s character and attitude. Knowledge sharing is truly effective only in teams where all the above barriers are crossed….and the situation based factors are difficult if not impossible to handle. Extending this topic a little further…into a slightly different direction, this is a selling point for K-Logs. A knowledge blog written on a personal note with details about the good and the bad (not just the former) is trustworthy and a good candidate for knowledge sharing mechanisms; One of the sure-fire ways to build trust in the online world, as there is a sure but gradual movement to online presence and interaction from conventional methods of interaction…

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