Without Trust…

October 27, 20082 min

…you cannot have collaboration.

My first stop at the SD Best Practices 2008 was a tutorial called “Collaboration Works!” by Ellen Gottesdiener.  I am familiar with many collaboration techniques, but I was looking for some additional tools and tricks (which I will include as separate posts later) and maybe sometime insight on some tricky issues from work.   Ellen asked everyone what their personal goal for the workshop was and mine was: “learn how to foster commitment in an environment of jaded people” (which might speak more to the goal owner than the actual people he works with).

I have spent a lot of effort lately trying to help people act more collaboratively, but they often hold back and are tentative.  True collaboration is elusive.  It seems as if there is often something (or someone) else “in the room” acting as an obstacle to collaboration.  Maybe it is me – ya never know, so I asked Ellen what she might identify as the problem.  Her answer was that a prerequisite for collaboration is trust.  That if there is no trust among the team member and\or between the team and management, there will be no collaboration.

Duh!  Trust – you have to have trust first! The issue had been staring me in the face for a long time, but Ellen finally gave me a word for it –trust.

We had a further dialgoue trying to dig deeper on how to overcome this obstacles.  She suggested that one needs to build safety within the team first before they have the capacity to share with management.   If the team did not feel safe with each other, they will not give management their candid opinions.  Her recommendation was to use visioning, chartering and retrospectives as tools to bring feedback to management that the team has issues around trust.  She also mentioned that incongruent behavior from management, i.e. “no overtime, but stay late to get it done”, will also further erode trust.