Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trust--The Cornerstone of Collaboration

This started with a conversation on Facebook, that went to Buzz and came back to FB again. This was a conversation between Paul (Twitter name: @simbeckhampson) and me. The conversation started with his comment to my link/post on Collaboration in a complex business environment, which incidentally I had put up on Amplify.

I will begin this post with Paul's comment on FB and then track the conversation we had. The post is an attempt to begin an analysis of what is required to build and maintain trust and thus facilitate collaboration.

Paul on FB: Just made a comment back on Buzz - interesting conversation developing about trust, collaboration et al... :-)

Paul on Buzz via Twitter: simbeckhampson: Question... What is the recipe for success when you need people to implicitly trust each other? #lrnchat #edchat #collaboration #trust

Me: This really is a difficult qs. Even as we talk of collaboration and sharing, trust is fast becoming a scarce "commodity". It seems to be vanishing. I would really like to know if there is a recipe for it.

I believe communication is the basis, cornerstone of building trust. But then, what makes for good communication? Listening skills, ability to ask the right questions...seems to be a spiraling set of needs...

Paul on Buzz: In order to face head-on the challenges of enterprise collaboration, informal learning and other change related terms, this question needs thoroughly investigating from a variety of perspectives with the desired outcome a mutual acceptance of the challenges that will invariably lie ahead.

I'm following the Dalai Lama on FB & Twitter and love reading his wisdom. In relation to this topic the phrase 'compassionate attitude' sprung to mind; these are the words of the Dalai Lama some six hours ago...

"If people have compassion, naturally that's something they can count on; even if they have economic problems and their fortune declines, they still have something to share with fellow human beings. World economies are always so tenuous and we are subject to so many losses in life, but a compassionate attitude is something that we can always carry with us."

A compassionate attitude helps to create the environment where trust can be nurtured.

At this point, I picked up the last line and posted it on Twitter because it resonated with what I believe too. This led to further conversation, this time on FB.

Me: Read the comment and picked up the quote on compassion and posted on Twitter. Compassion is so important in trust. There are so many emotions involved in the building of trust and trust itself is so important in collaboration...In the complex business environment today, collaboration i.e., trust becomes a necessary recipe for success. Don't you think so? No one can go all the way alone. But you cannot walk with someone w/o trust.

As the Cluetrain says quoting Elvis: "We can't go on together with suspicious minds..." Manifesto #29

Paul on FB: Love the Elvis quote... I often wonder how it would be if you could start a brand new company with 'like-minded' (@Scott Gould) people who understand instinctively what we are talking about here. Whether we were selling ice-cream or insurance policies I reckon we would be very successful and have a lot of fun along the way... something to bear in mind - at some point theory should enter the practice phase ;-) i.e. practice what you preach.

End of conversation yesterday...

But this set me thinking as usual about what is needed to facilitate Collaboration. And the tools come last in the list. Unless, to use the garden analogy from 5 Tips for Knowledge Gardeners: How to Grow a Collaborative Learning Community the garden is prepared lovingly and carefully, flowers won't bloom even when the season arrives.

And as I reflected on the conversation pasted above, a conversation started most randomly, I realized the importance of building TRUST.

Quoting from 5 Tips for Knowledge Gardeners: How to Grow a Collaborative Learning Community:

Imagine your workplace as an award-winning garden — a place where you nurture knowledge and success. A place where people grow and learn from one another by sharing best practices. A place where training content expands and improves through crowdsourcing. A place that’s self-sustaining, dynamic, and always fresh.

Trust is the bedrock of such a garden, the fertile soil needed to make it grow. How do we ensure we build it, retain it, grow it, nurture it? How can we make people think in terms of WE and not ME? How do eliminate the weeds? How do we remove the insecurities that beset people in this crazy rat-race age where everyone is trying to climb up the corporate ladder? How can we show that no one can go all the way alone? How do we make people realize it is ok to ask for help, to not know, to learn, to feel like an expert at one point and like a novice at another, to alternate between being a teacher and a learner?

And the solution is definitely not only tools. Collaboration tools come last in the list. Tools are the ship that will facilitate the sailing but the desire to set sail must already have been born...


  1. Perhaps this entire conversation should have been conducted via Google Wave? What do you think?

    I liked your post thoughts and reference to ecosystems and gardens, it's how I think too.

    I was also thinking this morning about the moral aspects of trust, the word "God" even appeared in one of my tweets :-o

    Catch up soon...

  2. Hi Sahana. Just read this comment on FB and it made me think of our conversation...

    "Dalai Lama: Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Even tiny insects survive by mutual cooperation based on innate recognition of their interconnectedness. It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence. Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others."


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