Exploring the Triangle of Trust

Last week I introduced the Triangle of Trust as a way of looking at how we can apply the Landscape of Trust work: it’s intended to be used as a developmental framework where we explore the relationship between values, intention, actions, and impact. Today, I want to just take a look at the types of relationships that exist between the separate elements.

Landscape of Trust - Triangle of Trust

We start with intention: any given situation what is it my intention to achieve. My intention may map closely against my own individual Landscape of Trust, certainly it is closely informed by it. There is a gap between intention and action: intention is internal, moderated by our values and views of trust, whilst action is subject to external pressure and cultural pressure. Our intention can be swamped by these dominant factors before it reaches actions.

For example, I may intend to do something one way, the pressure from the organisation, either in terms of processes, rules, or tacit understanding, may direct me to take different action, action which is unaligned with my core values and intent. I may be entirely aware that this is the case, for this is the cost of being within a culture. There is therefore no direct correlation between intention and action.

Landscape of Trust - Triangle of Trust

Actions are broadcast into the world, and they have an impact. The broadcast nature of action directly impacts the individual, so action is causal of impact, but not deterministic. Impact is internally moderated: how I feel about something is the impact that it has, or at least part of it. Whatever action you take, you can never fully control the impact it has, hence, it is not deterministic.

The relationship between impact and intention is decidedly loose, indeed we could argue there is often no link whatsoever. Values feed intention, intention informs action, but does not determine it, action causes impact, but equally is not deterministic of it, so quite clearly intention is not deterministic of impact. There is no causality necessarily, because intention may have been entirely derailed by external cultural pressure before we even get to action.

In some instances, intention may directly cause impact, whilst in others, there is no causation at all. Essentially, what we see, is that this is unpredictable. Within the Triangle of Trust work, this is really the point: being well-intentioned may have little or no correlation on impact. We sometimes work on the notion that our values are connected to the values of other people, whilst in fact it is our impact which is directly felt by other people, and it is the impact of other people that we feel most directly ourselves.

A mistake is to believe that impact relates to intent.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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