Trust in a Smart Way

trust A couple of days ago I posted about 'candor'. In that same issue of HBR another article was written about 'trust'. Roderick Kramer wrote "Rethinking Trust" (June 2009) - summary pdf here.

The open source, web 2.0 and knowledge management domain talks about trust a lot. We should be opener as people and as companies. We should trust our customers more. Etc.

However the economic turmoil we're in and how we got there puts a question mark behind 'trust'. Isn't it naive to trust? And to be open? If you don't watch out people will run off with your product ideas and, even worse, your money.

Kramer wants to 'rethink trust'. We can learn who to trust and how to trust in a more disciplined and sustained way. Even though "human beings are naturally predisposed to trust. (...) We're born to be engaged and to engage with others, which is what trust is largely about."

Kramer defines several rules to help us trust in the 'right' way:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Start small
  3. Write an escape clause
  4. Send strong signals
  5. Recognize the other person's dilemma
  6. Look at roles as well as people
  7. Remain vigilant and always question

Of course he elaborates on these rules. I thought number 3 is interesting. Research says when "people have a clearly articulated plan for disengagement, they can engage more fully and with more commitment." Never thought of that. Is this true to you? I'm not sure it is to. But maybe I don't "know myself" (number 1) well enough... ;-)

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