Blog series: Trust - Key ingredients for innovation

How does TRUST fit into all of this?

“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.” – STEPHEN R. COVEY

Innovation does not happen though one person. If you were to interview, ask or read/ hear stories of how innovations happened, the common theme is team, partners, collaborators. There are many great quotes from Steve Jobs -- one of my favorites is “We hire brilliant people so they can teach us how to create.” Many of the applications or features that Apple has created were built through partnerships. What I am getting at is that it is very difficult, time consuming and costly if you try to innovate on your own. Therefore, there's a great need for trust. And as Stephen Covey said, “Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, elusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create.”

Who or what am I supposed to trust?

A client I work with very often, an Innovation Lab in Toronto, is a great example of how trust can help and how it CAN be created (read more about it here. Many people know trust is important but they feel confused about who or what they are supposed to trust. Well, let me help you out on that front.

What to trust? The process, the approach! In this case, the Design Thinking process, even though it may seem, at first, that it is too good to be true (I mean, games, activities, crazy ideas = FUN?) because it invites you to come out of your shell and have fun at work and connect with people and notice the human side of the business. The results are valuable; this has been proven over and over again. Many organizations use this process: Apple, Amazon, IBM, SAP, Disney -- something in there works. These organizations create products, services and experiences that the majority of the humans on this planet have enjoyed. I bet there's something coming up in your memory archive. See?

Who do you need to trust?

  1. If you are a manager or a leader of an innovation team, trusting your team is vital. This means that if you or your organization chose those people, you should give them space where they can create and have fun, while you TRUST that they are heading in the right direction. If they chose to be part of the innovation team, trust that they know themselves well enough that they felt fit for the job. By trusting them you will give them room to breathe and that is already a great door for innovation.

  2. Yourself. We've all heard it before: Believe in yourself. You've been appointed innovation manager, coach, team member, chief officer, director, etc. If you were appointed because you asked or because someone saw you as one, embrace it! Clearly there is something in you that inspires, motivates and delivers. The time when trust is most crucial is when we fail, and we know in innovation it is a requirement that we not only fail, but that we do it fast. It is here that your trust is most useful. Know that you failed because it is part of a process and part of the learning; it is not personal. Trust that it is not YOU that failed. And most important -- trust that you will take a lot of value from the entire experience, especially the failures.

  3. The customers. Once you identify your customers, trust what they tell you. THEY DO know what they value. Notice that I said what THEY VALUE, not what they need. These are two very different things. None of us iPhone users KNEW we needed an iPhone before it was available. What a lot of us mobile users knew was that there were now mobile devices and there were mp3 players to replace the Walkman and CD players and that we now used email a lot. What we as users also knew was that we liked listening to music and we liked having a mobile device to call or text our friends and family. And through those likes, it was clear we valued time, speed, fun and ease of use. But it was only through listening, paying attention and the observations of people from an organization such as Apple that company was able to create something we now enjoy having. In fact, the iPhone was so popular that it prompted numerous competitors to build their own smartphones. So, trust your customers; they will tell you what they value and what their pain points are. If you can listen to that and respect it and build a solution that supports those values and alleviates those pain points, then you can bet you have gained their trust.

  4. Your genius inner child. If you've attended a sprint, a workshop or have heard me speak, you know I talk a lot about your inner child. Notice that this child is so important, I even separated it from the current “you.” The current adult “you” understands and knows organization, the topic, the industry, KPIs and investment, but your inner child operates on another level. The inner child knows FUN, creativity, unlimited resources and all kinds of possibilities;, your inner child knows it's okay to ask for help, knows it is okay to try and keep going. I am talking about the three-to-five-year old inner child, the one that has not yet been programmed by the adult reprimands and the school board’s high expectations that forbids dreams, play or silly ideas. That's the inner child you need to trust. Why? Because this inner child will take you to places and will give you visions and ideas that are innovative: Ideas that may seem crazy and impossible, ideas that will aim for the moon -- and that is what you are looking for. Did you ever imagine you could do your grocery, book, electronics and clothing shopping all at one market by using a screen? Or that you could have it all delivered to your door? How about self-driving cars? Or streaming live content anywhere in the world? Thank an inner child for those ideas. Give yourself permission to trust that little genius -- it's okay. And if you've been waiting for permission, you have mine.

How much trust do I need?

A lot, to be honest. Again, this process is not easy unless you trust in it. As adults, given the way we've been spoken to and the way our culture or society sets expectations for us, it is very easy to get lost and force ourselves to become captive of the boxes in which people place us. We need 100 per cent trust and conviction to step into adult playgrounds (creative labs), and only by bringing that amount are we able to deliver. But most important, only by bringing that amount of trust are we able to enjoy the experience, fulfil a purpose and learn.

Self-work: Time to reflect and grow

I've shared my thoughts based on my experience and knowledge on the importance of trust. I'd like to invite you to reflect on it. Below are some questions for you.

Step 1: On a scale from one to 10 (1 = no trust; 10 = full trust) how much do you trust your:

  1. Team?

  2. Self?

  3. Customer?

  4. Inner child?

  5. Process?

Step 2: Using the template below, see how these areas compare

Step 3: Take few minutes to really notice what stands out for you in the template above.

  • What surprises you, if anything?

  • What caught your attention first?

  • If you could identify the one area that, once increased, would have the most positive impact on the other areas, which one would that be?

Step 4: Now that you've identified the area that will be most beneficial to tackle, what are the top three commitments you will make to start that change?

If you are an innovator or you are interested in the topic of Innovation and would like to work with us, give me a shout.

Until next time!


Your Innovision Coach

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