#WorkingOutLoud on The Projection and Flow of Trust

Some more early stage #WorkingOutLoud around the Landscape of Trust today. I’ve been thinking about culture, and the influence of trust within this: does high trust hold a culture static, or make it dynamic? Recently i shared some early work on complexity and scale, which explored the notion that trust, unlike structure, does not scale infinitely, but rather clumps, and falls into smaller, tightly bound, tribal units. So in global organisations, we exist in many local and global tribes (technically local, geographically global). Connectivity and scale in social contexts may be an ability to gain access to, and effectiveness from, these tribes.

The Projection and Flow of Trust

Within the Social Leadership work, i explore the notion of Communities, looking at where they are, which you should join, which you should leave, the role you take within them, and the purpose that they serve: but what is the mechanism of connection?

Perhaps we can see two states: there is an in-group function, where we are fully accepted, trusted, integral within the group structure, but then there is probably a second degree connection, where we sit within a projected frame of trust, but are not yet fully in-group.

How Trust Fails

I recently introduced the notion of ‘the projection and failure of trust’, in an attempt to explore how trust is cemented, or fails, by what mechanism is potential trust framed, and how is it validated or assessed. This was really a response to the strong narratives within the research around the failure of trust being to do with the breaching of implicit rules.

The Projection and Failure of Trust

So, if i combine these ideas, we can see functioning groups within organisations that have three spaces: in-group, who are tightly bonded first degrees of trust, then near-group, who are within a projected frame, who have the potential to be accepted, if they validate the trust frame, and then finally out-group, who are third degree, outside anything but functional trust.

I am using ‘functional trust’ to describe contracted trust, sometimes thought of as institutional trust: if we are both legally contracted, we have some assumed shared trust space, but only 35%of people felt that trust could be held within a contract in the preliminary research. In 65% of cases, trust sat with other people, so i don’t think you can get very far with functional trust alone.

The Landscape of Trust - people or contract?

The second part of this it to understand the mechanism, and consequence, of moving fully in-group. What happens when the projected frame of trust is validated, and you assume a position within the social structure?

Elsewhere, i’ve talked about ‘primary cultural alignment’, the dominant cultural alignment that we feel as we are assimilated into dominant local culture: it’s the first hours and days of our time in a new community and space. I suspect that primary cultural alignment is strongly held in social ties, whilst global organisational alignment is held more in structure and hierarchy, so less emotionally bonded, more formally so.

Landscape of Trust - Triangle of Trust

As we move from near-group, to in-group, we probably develop stronger primary cultural alignment with the group, but at the cost of the global cultural alignment: we cannot be bonded equally to two masters. In the work around the ‘triangle of trust’, i look at ‘organisational pollution’, which is what happens when we try to reconcile social pressure and consequence, with organisational imperative and influence. To be ‘in-group’ requires a certain conformity: to allow ourselves to be too influenced by organisational pollution and pressure would invoke social consequence, and, ultimately, exclusion.

I’m really using this framework as a conceptual view of how culture forms, is held, evolves, and what the relationship is between the strong social pressure and consequences that exist within the Landscape of Trust, and the strong formal imperatives that exist within models of organisational change, and organisational understanding of institutional trust. Apologies for the long sentence: i’m playing with this language still, and #WorkingOutLoud as i do so.

When organisations change, they may do so in unequal ways, so that one sub group is empowered, enabled, becomes strongly socially tied and effective, whilst others fragment off and fall to opposition. It’s that dynamic that i will explore further in the near future, and it relates to ‘Constraint’, and ‘Resistance’, as i describe it in the Dynamic Change work.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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6 Responses to #WorkingOutLoud on The Projection and Flow of Trust

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