Agile at the Speed of Trust – Organizational Trust

This content is syndicated from LeadingAgile by Peter Callies. To view the original post in full, click here.

This post is part of a series focusing on the synergies between Agile and trust.  The book The Speed of Trust forms the definition of trust and the framework for this series.  The Speed of Trust uses a definition of “organization” that is relative to the reader.  If the reader is part of a team, that could be the organization.  If the reader is in charge of a department, that could be the organization.  If the reader is the president or CEO of a company, the entire company could be the organization.

We often talk about needing to focus on three primary areas when adopting Agile: people, processes, and organizational structure.  Organizational structure is the grouping of people and relationships between those groups.  The approach to this is critical because it provides the environment for shared accountability and alignment.  However, establishing the environment clearly isn’t enough.

The “third wave” of trust in The Speed of Trust is organizational trust.  This is the wave that deals with developing and maintaining trust with internal stakeholders of an organization to assure alignment.

As a way of communicating the importance of organizational trust, the book lists the following “taxes” that are paid in a low-trust organization and the “dividends” received in a high-trust organization.

Taxes Dividends
  • Redundancy
  • Bureaucracy
  • Politics
  • Disengagement
  • Turnover
  • Churn
  • Fraud
  •  Increased value
  • Accelerated growth
  • Enhanced innovation
  • Improved collaboration
  • Stronger partnering
  • Better execution
  • Heightened loyalty

Organizational trust builds on the 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors from The Speed of Trust, many of which are described in previous posts of this series.  As the book says, “[The cores and behaviors] are the keys to creating organizational alignment and trust. They empower you to…speak about trust in a way that promotes understanding, dialogue, and problem solving, and to behave in ways that build trust.”

The book asks the reader to question whether the organization’s behavior in relation to the four cores (integrity, intent, capabilities, and results) supports trust.  An Agile organization has a leg up in this area because agile principles and practices reinforce the cores.  Here are some examples.

  • Agile enables organizational integrity because it helps create a culture of making and meeting commitments.  In a Scrum environment, commitments are made and met with every sprint.
  • Agile validates organization intent via cross-functional teams and frequent check points that ensure that the output of the team is what the team intends and what the organization needs.
  • Additionally, it’s really hard to have a trust-destroying hidden agenda (nefarious intent) when results and plans are being inspected at frequent, regular intervals.
  • Agile reinforces the caring, empathetic aspects of intent by emphasizing a sustainable pace of work, helping individuals trust that the organization values them as people, not just as expendable resources.
  • One of the core tenants of Agile is continuous improvement.  By allowing teams time to focus on improving their capabilities (processes, tools, and skills) the organization builds trust.
  • Attention to organizational results is achieved by ensuring everyone is aligned with a shared vision.  Agile achieves this at a low level via cross-functional teams and frequent interaction between the business, often represented by someone playing the role of Product Owner, and the teams.  When Agile is scaled, this is achieved via cross-functional program and portfolio management.

The book then asks the reader to consider how the organization’s culture encourages the 13 individual trust behaviors.  A previous post talked about how Agile impacts these behaviors, but these behaviors can be put to interesting use in terms of a retrospective.  Try using the Satisfaction Histogram technique from Agile Retrospectives with some of the behaviors forming the evaluation criteria to determine where your organization stands and what you might want to focus on to improve trust within your organization.

The post Agile at the Speed of Trust – Organizational Trust appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × one =

There are 101 ways to do anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”



To explore how we can help you, please get in touch