Plenty has been written about how to develop an innovative culture. One word frequently thrown around is trust – something that can be difficult to define and even more so to put into practice. Trust extends in many directions; one must trust and be trusted both on an organizational level and the individuals that make it up. Even in partnerships that are built upon a healthy amount of mutual respect and confidence, there is usually room to improve. Consulting firm Accenture recently posted a report on managing trust, calling it a scarce commodity. The report emphasizes that while trust is often seen as emotional, it is actually quantifiable and actionable. Organizations need to have a solid understanding of how their stakeholders view them, rather than making assumptions, since many leaders overestimate the level of trust others have in their organization. This is best assessed by getting a range of opinions.
Because trust is everyone’s job, “Managers and leaders have to make it legitimate for people to share ideas, which means creating a climate where people can trust one another,” says Raymond Miles, author of Collaborative Entrepreneurship. “Trustworthiness extends to equitable treatment. An atmosphere must be fostered where all are so committed to equitable treatment that no one has to worry that, when they ask you a question or for assistance, you will steal or claim ownership of their idea.”
Some questions leaders can ask to do an internal assessment of where there might be issues with trust within the organization include: Do you (an individual or an organization) deliver what you promised when you said you would? Do you manage expectations well? Do you understand your partner’s best interests and work towards meeting them?
As Kevin McFarthing writes on Blogging Innovation, “if you want to be successful at Open Innovation, pay close attention to trust, and ensure your actions don’t give your partner any reason to doubt you. It will make the collaboration run more smoothly.”