Trust me – let’s collaborate

Trust plays an indispensable role in how we collaborate. Confidence in the integrity of partners is essential for good outcomes, especially in an era when interaction is increasingly online. However, networks in themselves don’t guarantee trust, says Venessa Miemis, who blogs about the intersection of culture and the digital world. “We’ve been through the binding phase, which was all about getting linked,” Miemis says. “We delighted in relatively low-risk interaction and sharing, finding our tribes, forming communities of mutual interest and learning. But now we’re moving into the collaboration phase, and there are some different requirements.” More trust equals more risk, she says. “Each of us sees the promise of a new way of working, living, and Being. And yet there is still fear. Are you gonna steal my idea? Are you gonna follow through with your commitments? Are you gonna take the credit?” On the corporate side, an Economist Intelligence Unit study found that high-trust companies were still relatively rare. “Few companies,” it found, “are focused on collaboration itself as a capability, or on instituting the kind of trust standards that can speed and ease collaboration, or on properly aligning corporate culture, processes and technology around the collaborative strategy”. Bad news for innovation? Not necessarily. According to researchers Francis Bidault and Alessio Castello, “as mutual trust increases, innovativeness also goes up — but only to a certain point, after which innovativeness declines, even though it stays at higher levels because of greater commitment”. Bottom line: When inventing together, trust is good; but avoiding too much trust is better.

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