As has already been highlighted, the right level of trust is imperative if we wish to win the knowledge game. However, in saying this, we also need to accept that relapses are a fact of life, whether changing diet, giving up smoking or building trust. ˜Why? you might ask. Well, like any habit it often takes many goes before we can perfect the art of the new skill. So instead of seeing relapses as a problem, we should see them as a perfectly normal part of the personal growth process.
So, if you wish to help build trust, spend your time and energy rewarding the desired behaviour and remind people how their world will change if they are successful in cementing a different habit. From experience, it is far better for a manager to give praise and build confidence than lay blame. We need to remind people of why the effort is necessary and encourage them to continue. This also goes for changing our habits as well. We need to be kind to ourselves when we experience relapses and struggle, and prepare to steer ourselves back on course. Where possible we need to learn the lesson of why a relapse may have occurred, stop being angry or frustrated, remind ourselves of our goal and get back on track. It takes a special effort to acknowledge our feelings and to make sure we give ourselves the time and space to take corrective action.
Also we need to understand that building trust can create a win “lose tension, particularly if people feel they are losing power from changing the nature of their personal relationships and how knowledge is shared. This vulnerability is common, especially if a person is used to being an independent contributor or feels that the status of someone else is above or below their own. Most of all, we need to let people know that they are accepted for who they are, and that you want them to be part of a new way of relating. In this way you have a much better chance of building a shared purpose that will stimulate greater levels of commitment and responsibility. The beautiful thing is that when trust exists the process of knowledge and innovation is so much easier.
One technique, which demonstrates many of the qualities of high trust is ˜open space . Open space is a group technique practised by Harrison Owen, a North American consultant . The open space technique draws on the wisdom of indigenous groups, notably from the village of Balamah in Western Africa, the Native American tradition and the Far East. Owen shows how a simple group process can be used to help build trust, shared purpose and higher levels of awareness.
The open space process asks people to address concerns and actions on a specific issue. To be successful the people involved must feel passionate and care about the issues being discussed. For example, reducing wastage, ideas for a new marketing campaign, fund-raising issues for a school fete could all be topics in the right context.
The hypothesis of open space is that people can quickly and instantaneously create solutions without massive amounts of preparation and external assistance. In this process people are allowed, over a period of one to three days, to work through issues without the imposition of fixed agendas and tightly controlled presentations. Typically, people stand or sit in circles and engage in dialogue, which leads to a higher level of understanding and clarity. In doing so, they normally follow a number of simple ground rules:
Give maximum opportunity for each person to contribute.
If a person feels that they are not learning or contributing, he or she can leave.
All issues raised will be discussed unless it is decided not to do so.
No prescribed outcome is allowed to dictate the process.
At the end of the meeting, the proceedings are produced in a hard copy format or, better still, published on an easily edited e-version on the World Wide Web, intranet site or business portal. This commitment to action often leads to the establishment of action groups and areas of activity, which in turn lead to breakthroughs in knowledge, insight and action.
In recent years , more sophisticated advances in technology have been used to encourage further collaboration and teaming via advances such as virtual chat rooms, file sharing, video-conferencing, web cams and search engines capabilities. However, the traditional enablers such as face-to-face conversations, e-mail, telephone and fax are still the most common modes of communication.
Interestingly, the most value in open space is when things are not easy to resolve and there is no simple solution, and there is a high potential for creative tension and exchange. It is in this domain that the chances of landmark discoveries and innovation can best occur.