Getting Started with Trust and Ownership
In today’s incredibly fast-paced and competitive markets, how do we deliver products and services that delight? By unleashing the talent of every person in the organization and focusing them on shared ideas that generate meaningful business value and by trusting them. This creates a place where they want to be, not have to be. As leaders we can then step aside and let them do their work.
This sounds nice and possibly easy but many organizations fall short. We have seen them fail many times—too many times. The key to success is to create a culture open to the possibilities of change and innovation, one that can respond quickly to customer needs and wants, one that is agile.
What does this type of culture look like?
- Continuous definition of what is of value to customers and what will delight them, involving the customers and the entire organization.
- Delivering the right stuff when it is ready, when customers want to take it.
- Learning, learning, learning. Mistakes are accepted, not punished.
- Innovation is the accepted norm, not the exception.
- Everyone has what they need to succeed.
- Shared vision with all goals aligned with the business goals of the organization.
This works when the team has ownership of the solution (the “how” not the “what”) and when leaders trust the team and support processes that demonstrate that trust. That’s where we begin.
One look at the Trust-Ownership Model (Figure 1.1) makes it is clear where everyone wants to be: Energy and Innovation. But are you there? If so, you may not need to read further.
Figure 1.1 Trust-Ownership Model
But most of our teams and organizations sit in the Command and Control state, because living in Failure or Conflict cannot last for long. If the team is in Conflict, they will eventually get tired of the fight and start doing what they are told, moving to Command and Control. In Failure, leaders are afraid the teams will not deliver, so they increase control, again moving to the Command and Control quadrant.
Because we find most cultures in Command and Control, if we traverse the diagonal in Figure 1.2 from high control/low ownership to the high trust/high ownership state, we create a culture that maximizes delivery and innovation. The further along the diagonal your organization can move, the more successful the business is in delighting customers, delivering value early and often, and increasing revenue.
Figure 1.2 Moving to the green
Integrity is the foundation. Where is the integrity in telling the team they “must have all this done by this date” when you haven’t asked the team if it is even possible? Or saying, “I want it done this way” without discussion and without considering there may be another, perhaps better, way? Setting unrealistic goals is dishonest and lacks integrity. Teams are very aware when this happens, and it leads to distrust and demotivation. Without integrity, you cannot create a high trust/high ownership culture.
However, the goals and purpose of all teams must align with the business goals of the organization. And to be a healthy organization, you must deal honestly with ambiguity and uncertainty. With these things in place we have a high-performing organization, working together to provide value and delight customers.