When trust is high, things happen faster and at lower cost, than when trust is low.
Stephen M.R. Covey’s book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything, contains a great set of ideas that bring clarity to some of the often paradoxical parts of our relationships. It’s also a framework that holds exciting potential to be explored using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
Covey advocates that trust is the one thing that changes everything. He quantifies it as a tangible asset, one that affects every individual, relationship, team, family, organisation, nation, economy and civilisation across the world. Viewed through this lens, it suddenly becomes a very appealing concept to understand more deeply.
Put simply, if trust is high, things happen faster and at lower cost, than when trust is low.
According to Covey’s thinking trust has four cores, which are like the parts of a tree:
The roots are Integrity (Are your congruent?)
Integrity is deep honesty and truthfulness - it is walking your talk and being true to who you really are. For many this is the most familiar aspect of trust. Like the roots of a tree, it underpins everything and is vital, without it we see people as dishonest or unprincipled.
The trunk is Intent (What's your agenda?)
Intent is your fundamental motive or agenda and the behaviour that follows. Trust grows where our motives are straightforward and based on mutual benefit. If we do not believe that someone’s intent is to act in our best interests, we become suspicious of them.
The branches are Capability (Are you relevant?)
Capability is your capacity to achieve results.It's your ability to inspire confidence.The means by which we produce tangible results.Included within capability is our ability to establish, grow and repair trust. Without capability the tree is a stump, it has no means by which to produce results.
The leaves are Results (What’s your track record?)
Results matter enormously to your credibility. If we don’t deliver what is expected trust is reduced. Past, present and future results all matter, but disregarding the other three cores and achieving results by any means will seriously damage trust.
13 behaviours universal to high trust people
Covey also outlines 13 behaviours that he believes are universal in high trust people.
Talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, right wrongs, show loyalty, deliver results, get better, confront reality, clarify expectations, practice accountability, listen first, keep commitments & extend trust.
Take a moment to evaluate one relationship in your life where trust is low, using the four cores of credibility above. You can probably pinpoint, where the gaps are. The framework provides the knowledge and language to quantify trust and serves as a great tool for self reflection - we can start to understand how others may trust us.
The 13 behaviours are a simple way to focus our thinking and understand how we can inspire greater trust from others. We need a blend of all of them (rather than several to excess) and Covey provides detailed insight into mastering each. In short he provides a guide of how to behave yourself out of problems you’ve behaved yourself into.
In understanding trust, one of the natural questions is how to repair it. Fundamentally this depends on the areas in which it is lacking, overcoming a perceived deficiency in character (integrity or intent) is much more difficult than a deficiency in competence (capability or results). Covey advocates that it is absolutely possible to repair trust given the right opportunity. To learn more (and how!) you really should read the book…
The Speed of Trust and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
I’m excited by the potential of running a workshop using the ideas within The Speed of Trust and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. I anticipate it could be used to explore multiple axes. A few ideas:
The 4 cores of credibility
As integrity underpins the four cores this is a useful starting build when talking about trust. IN SAFE environments you could invite team members to “Build a model to show who you truly are when you are at your most congruent” with the objective of deepening the group’s understating of each others integrity.
On pages 51-53 of the book Covey provides a rating system to quantify trust across the four cores of credibility. Using this metric, participants could be asked to “Build a model to show what you might do to strengthen your weakest core.” It would be best for participants to start with themselves and declare their intent with this build / model. (NB think hard about the reflection stage and the value this can bring.)
The 13 behaviours hold rich potential. Using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to explore what they look like, the barriers to creating them, or identifying what the right amount of them looks like could bring huge value within a workshop setting.
If you have run a workshop using the speed of trust as a framework - we’d love to hear about it...
In shared model building we teach our students to: “Lead the discussion through the brick” or "Mediate the conversation through the model".
At last weeks LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator training in Stuttgart, this idea all-of-a-sudden developed to the next level!
While practicing facilitating the first round of Build Level 2 Shared Model Building, a participant forgot to talk as they were touching or moving the model.
Without words, the other participants pushed and grabbed the pointy stick (you can see a pointy stick being used the photo above - it's the beige and white one being held and pointed at the model) and made it a magic stick... All-of-a-sudden... only the person holding the stick was allowed to speak! This spur-of-the-moment idea really helped the group mediate the conversation through the model... and as a result the shared model building experience was better.
It was great to see what group dynamics can do as a team suddenly starts to agree to new rules of communication. The process kept on for the following day and it worked very well and helped the participants understand the this key idea in shared model building.
Even as trainer you never stop learning! - Jens Dröge is SeriousWork Training Partner in Germany
SeriousWork training graduate Rebecca Godfrey shares her observations from a live workshop
I had the great pleasure of joining Sean for a full day event bringing together a large team (approximately 45 people) to look at their vision for the future. I was invited to observe and to serve as general helper for the day. This was a great opportunity as I was a helper before I had held any workshops myself; it was a fantastic to stand back and watch him in action as when I was training I was very much focusing on learning the process myself so watching on this day I spotted things that I would like to bring into my own practice and would like to share with the rest of the community here so that we can fulfil Sean's dream of us being the best LSP facilitators in the business.
4. Having something in your back pocket
The 4th stage of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process is reflection. This note sets out guidance about how to use this stage effectively and offers questions you might ask when you facilitate.
The objective of reflection to make meaning from the preceding build and share stages.
- Ask ONE question at a time
- Form questions that are guided by the session objective
- Ask questions that try to get underneath / illuminate insight
You might guide the group through the four stages of the ORID framework, by asking one of each of the following 4 kinds of question:
1. OBJECTIVE QUESTIONS
What have we just seen? (in the presented models)
What ideas/messages stands out?
What really caught your attention? (from the presentation of the models)
What are the facts (about the presented topic) we have just seen?
What patterns/ themes are now visible to you?
2. REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS
How do you feel about the presented facts/ models?
What was exciting in what you just heard?
What made you nervous or concerned about what you just heard?
What was inspiring about what you just heard?
What new possibilities might we now see?
3. INTERPRETIVE QUESTIONS
What can we now see that we did not see before?
What is being recommended (or implied) here?
What appears to be the central issue/idea/problem being shown by this?
What key insights are beginning to emerge here?
4. DECISIONAL QUESTIONS
What decision is implied by this?
What is the step you/we now need to take?
What does this now mean?
What have you just learned?
Get out of jail free question: If you are blank, you could ask the group: “What is the reflection question we should now be asking?”
Do Not: Ask multiple reflection questions simultaneously or mix up the SHARE stage with the REFLECT stage.
Download this as a PDF Cheatsheet
Phillipp works at a large consulting firm in Abu Dhabi. He flew to London in October 2018. A week after completing his training and certification Phillipp ran his first workshop. His objective was "to understand different meanings of 'identity' and create a common, group understanding".
I’m Philipp Rosenthal, a Sustainability Consultant that supports clients in the development of Sustainability Strategies, the implementation of associated programs and the reporting of non-financial disclosures. As a Clean-Tech engineer by background, I understand the importance of clear definitions so that everybody is on the same page. For years, however, I have struggled as many times clients have different levels of understanding of “Sustainability”. It could simply mean too many things. The term is too large, too all-encompassing. With LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, I want to tackle the problem that there is a lack of mutual understanding.
In my work helping develop of sustainability strategies, we ask our clients and thier stakeholders to prioritise which sustainability topics are the most important. It is here that the differences of understanding of a sustainability topic creates suboptimal outcomes.
In my view, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is especially powerful in this context as companies face a wide range of requirements and expectations that are sometimes hard to clearly define. Creating small 3D models can bring the topic to life, bond participants to a shared understanding and help bringing this important topic to the top of a company’s agenda.
Facilitating these workshops is an art that I was happy to be introduced to by Sean and Caroline from SERIOUSWORK. But similarly to other skills, facilitation is a muscle that needs constant training.
As suggested by Sean, I chose to conduct my first group session in a low-risk environment. My wife and son, who I have tested the methodology with before, are already adamant believers in this powerful approach to communication and they did not want to miss the opportunity to join in as well.
My first workshop: Exploring meaning and identity
I started with the usual Skills Build 1 & 2 and then chose to ask the participants to build a model about themselves, disclosing something that the others 'don’t know about you'. The group consisted of two pairs from different friend circles. They had met before only once but generally do not know each other well. I chose a more personal question for the Skills Build 3 so that it gets a little bit more personal before we dived into the main topic. After everybody built and shared, I encouraged curiosity by asking a few questions.
We then moved on into the main topic. I posed the build question: “Build a model of what “identity” means to you.” and gave 5 minutes building time. I was then very surprised by the some of the sophisticated answers that were shared.
We reflected briefly on some of the common themes before I asked the group to build a shared model of the group’s mutual understanding of the term. It is here, where things really kicked-off. I could see the “analytical” personalities opening up, everybody leaning in and they jointly created an impressive model of what “identity” means to them.
At the end, I asked the group for some feedback and was stunned. “This is an amazing approach to bring every view into a discussion.” This was mentioned by a usually more quite, analytical character. “I loved to see the different representations of the other participants and by building a shared model and co-creating, I have learned not only about “identity” but also got to know new people.”
Below timelapse shows a social gathering with the objective to create a shared understanding of what "identity" means to the group.
This was, of course, only the beginning. I have created the Facebook Group (“Abu Dhabi LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®”), a focused Instagram account (@Philipp_plays), am sharing content on LinkedIn and am currently setting up the Abu Dhabi Meetup. Then, I am creating Go-2-Market materials to bring this to my clients but before that, I will run a session for my team to update our team’s vision. There is lot’s to do.
Thanks, Sean and Caroline. It is not only this innovative methodology but also your mastery in teaching – from curating a group of excellent individuals to executing a thoughtful training experience – that has made this an exceptional first step in a journey.
Note from Trainer Sean Blair: Well done Phillip - It's great to see you helping groups exploring meaning. This really is one of the power features of LEGO Serious Play. It's never the words that matter (written or verbal) but always the meaning. An inspiring story, thanks for sharing.
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