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The Speed of Trust

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.


Try this…

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.

Improving trust

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.

Repairing trust

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...

How a pointy stick became a magic stick


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

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