Make Sense of Trust

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Consciousness, Safety | One Comment

Trust is a subjective quality of a situation. It is closely related to our feeling of safety in that moment. And it’s influenced by many other factors, some of which are inside, some outside of us. Some we can control, some we can’t. Some are measurable, some less so… How can we make sense of trust?

Trust Workshop: Berlin, June 22/23 !

With Alexey Pikulev. First of its kind 🙂

Trust is messy and complex. Like many qualities of our experience in a complex adaptive system, trust is dependent on the situation, the context and our intention.

microTOOL published a post by me today (in German) where I give examples of trust and how to evaluate it. One exercise I mention in that post is this, which I currently call “Messy Canvas”. Canvases are becoming increasingly popular: there’s the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and others… My favourites are:

In contrast to these canvases, the MessyCanvas does not come with a model, and it looks less ordered. It’s supposed to help us make sense of messy concepts, which are understandable in a given situation yet not fully knowable in general.

Get Started

MessyCanvas Empty

MessyCanvas Empty

Draw about a dozen fields of roughly equal size on a whiteboard. I chose to orient them clock-wise so that we have less sense of one being more important than the other. Notice the big empty space in the middle – this model is not going to be comprehensive. We will miss something!

Collect Ideas

Trust MessyCanvas with Team

Trust MessyCanvas with Team

Collect ideas on post-its or Stattys. Just stick them on the wall. Then do some affinity grouping and let people group those together that for them belong together. Allow conversations, questions…

The final result might look like this:

Trust MessyCanvas

Trust MessyCanvas

The main benefit is in the conversations. Running this with your team will create interesting dialog around the words used and their specific meaning for your team.

Evaluate Trust

Make sense of trust is a good start. Now we have some shared understanding of what it is. What do we do with it? One way I have explored so far is using red/green/yellow post-its to indicate

  • where we are lacking (where we wish for more)
  • where we are healthy (where we want to give appreciation)
  • something else … (remember this model is not complete)

and then see what comes up. Once you have the shared awareness of what trust means to you, you will find options to deliberately increase it. Enjoy!

Make Sense of … Engagement

Last week I ran a session at AgileCoachCamp Denmark, where we used this method to map engagement.

Engagement Canvas

Engagement Canvas

Feel free to run your version on contextual topics that are important to your team. Please share your experiences!.

1 Comment

  1. Trust Artist How to use 1-10 Scales to Raise Awareness - Trust Artist
    September 17, 2015

    […] is a quick and short version of the same integration and sense-making process that happens with a messy canvas exercise. We reflect on how we arrived at that number (we make that up, we can’t know how we picked a […]


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