Who Did You Forget in Collaboration? Employees

Thank you Aaron Aders and Inc. including me in this article on collaboration

"..."Successful collaboration isn't just about providing the necessary tools and training for collaboration," she explains, "but also about building trust with employees." She suggests that collaboration develop in an organic way, rather than something being imposed on a team. "Watch how your people collaborate," Mills-Scofield advises. "Then translate that into a tool that will fit as naturally as possible into their day-to-day routine and behavior."



52 Ways to Build Trust

Many thanks to Barbara Kimmel of Trust Across AmericaTM for letting me contribute to Trust Inc.: 52 Weeks of Activities and Inspiriations for Building Worldplace Trust (Vol 3.).  My mantra, Experiment-Learn-Apply-Iterate, is a way to start building trust in one's own capabilities and one's team (pg 29).  Get the book, try out these various ways and you'll be surprised at how it works! (And if you want, buy Vol 1 & 2 as well (ok, i'm in Volume 1 too)).

How Uncertainty Can Actually Build Trust

Sometimes using what is ambiguous and unknown can build trust.  By experimenting, learning, applying and iterating we build trust in ourselves and each other.  Give it a try!  Thank you Barbara Kimmel and Trust Across America - Trust Across the World for the opportunity to be part of #TRUSTGiving2014.

"Taking risk requires trust – to discover, try, re-try, be okay with uncertainty, imperfection and even fail.  That’s why learning how to inexpensively and quickly Experiment-Learn-Apply-Iterate is critical to building trust."  Read on....

The Paradox of Trust, Vulnerability and Leadership

Thank you Switch and Shift for this series on trust!

"We usually think of great leaders as strong, unflappable, all-knowing, all-confident and ready to forge ahead.  They have all the answers, they know where they are going, and we trust them without doubt and question. Wrong! Great leaders are strong but don’t hide all their emotions. They know a lot but not everything, they are confident but not arrogant and they are ready to forge ahead – with the help of their team’s insights and inputs.  They want to be challenged and they want hidden assumptions brought to light and questioned." Read on...

Trust Trumps Everything

Innovation Excellence graciously shares my chapter in Luis Solis's book, Innovation Alchemists: what every CEO needs to know to hire the right Chief Innovation Officer.  

"Successful Chief Innovation Officers give their employees room to experiment, providing air cover for them, running interference, and in general respecting, trusting and supporting them...(read more)"

"The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them" Ernest Hemingway

The Energy Efficiency of Trust & Vulnerability

Note: Carl & I met at BIF9. As usually happens, a beautiful friendship and collaboration ensued.  Our conversations are like jazz...live, interactive, impromptu.  Eavesdrop on one here... 

Photo: Stephanie Alvarez Ewens

DMS: At BIF, you performed before an audience of over 400 people with two musicians you’d barely met before.  It was fabulous – resulting in BIF’s first encore!  The three of you had a common goal – a great performance.  You had aligned incentives – to create great music and not make fools of yourselves. This got us talking about trust – trusting people because of who they are personally vs. who they are professionally.

CS: Yes, I didn’t need to trust them personally, just professionally. If I’m going to fly, I have to trust the airline to have sane, sober, skilled, alert pilots.  We also need to trust systems.  If I have to go to the ER, perhaps a bad one is better than none.  If the alternative is worse, we might opt for no trust.  How much we need to trust others depends on the context, but also on how much we trust ourselves, our own resources and our ability to understand the context we are in; the more information and/or experience we have, the better we can decide whether or not to trust.  Trust is a tool to assess and manage (reduce and/or increase) risk, depending on the situation.

How much we need to trust others depends on the context, but also on how much we trust ourselves, our own resources and our ability to understand the context we are in

DMS: Trusting someone implies making oneself more vulnerable and finally it seems the world is recognizing that is what it takes to create great leaders.  Trust has big implications on our resources, as you’ve said.  When we don’t trust, we exert a lot of energy to keep up our guard, to continually assess and verify.  This uses a lot of energy and time.  When we trust, we re-allocate that energy and time to getting things done and making an impact.  As we let ourselves be vulnerable, we also leave ourselves more open to new ideas, new ways of thinking which leads to empathy and innovation.

Photo: Stephanie Alvarez EwensCS: Absolutely.  When we trust, we reduce hassles, bargaining and redundancy.  The more information and/or experience we have, the fewer buffers we need around our decisions and the more we can focus on the scope and achievement of our goals. Being vulnerable is a way to preserve energy.  Basically, we are saying, “I won’t use resources on this because the pain of being vulnerable ‘costs’ less than the cost of NOT applying my resources elsewhere.”  For instance, choosing an instrument (or a profession) is a kind of vulnerability. No instrument can play everything.  To create great music you need an ensemble — a trio, quartet,  basically a team of players with complementary strengths, skills and vulnerabilities and a willingness to listen to each other and a common goal.

When we trust, we re-allocate that energy and time to getting things done and making an impact.  As we let ourselves be vulnerable, we also leave ourselves more open to new ideas, new ways of thinking which leads to empathy and innovation.

DMS: Trust and vulnerability are keys to “Energy Management”. Not to sound too 19th or 20th Century, but trusting is efficient….and effective.  It lets us reallocate our resources to what matters and utilize our skills and those around us to increase effectiveness…impact.  Energy Management raises the issue of perfection. If we are working together, we need to agree on the meaning of ‘done’.  When are we done, what does that look like? And that’s in the eye of the customer/audience.  So we need to understand customers’ needs and how well we can meet those.   We need to recognize that ‘good enough’ can really be good enough.  The Lean Startup movement encourages a Minimal Viable Product (MCP), building what’s critical and leaving the non-critical for a later.  My daughter says, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of accomplishment.” Growing up in Bell Labs, I saw the need to know and control everything hold us back from realizing value.  Your wife’s phrase, “Control is for Beginners” is so a propôs.

CS: Knowing when to stop is key.  Strategic sloppiness is a way to preserve energy.  Don’t line up the boxes, disregard the typo’s, narrow the scope – Simplify!  The use of shared references is a big part of this.  Build on the same shared mental models (e.g., Peter Senge); use the same language (e.g., Hanna McPhee: Design & Science); make sure we hear and see the same thing (reduce buffers around our response); allow for larger margins of error in our response and our acceptance of others. This is especially true when we are working in real-time, where higher perfection slows down the tempo.  We have to eliminate anything that slows us down, which forces choices in real time. Think of when we’ve been on a stage giving a presentation (or running out of a burning building).  If we can´t think of a specific word, we skip it and make something up — we lower the bar as much as we can.  Being live forces us to be flexible, like a nerf ball instead of a steel ball. If we are too hard, we are still vulnerable because we will crack, not bend and flex and live.

DMS: We can’t minimize the need to be effective.  So much of the 20thcentury’s focus on efficiency over effectiveness ended up being inefficient!  If the outcome didn’t meet customers’ need, who cares how efficiently it was made?  Efficient systems are great at dealing with complicated things – things that have many parts and sequences, but they fall flat dealing with complex systems, which is most of world today. At BIF8, Brandon Barnettgave a great story about the difference between complicated and complex. Effective solutions to wicked problems rarely come about through efficient and linear thinking.  It’s usually messy… and increasingly effective.

CS: The Industrial Revolution was based on achieving efficiency by scale through replication – a frozen goal in a static context.  This led to managing people and machines as one and the same — striving for uniformity/conformity, precision, low deviance, repetition, predictability and static, strict standards.  Things could be complicated but not complex (because they were static and not interconnected).  Now, easy, repetitive tasks are being de-bundled and out-sourced or automated which speeds things up, from months to weeks to minutes. Add to this that more and more interfaces are standardized and subjected to competition (per Clay Christensen) and we are seeing an emerging alphabet — components that can be assembled in endless combinations as manifestations of unique ideas.  As the ability to replicate something has become more of a commodity, we are increasingly seeing that complex interactions are the way to create ‘value from difference’ (as opposed to ‘value from sameness’).  But again, the complex interactions require judgment, intuition, data, timing and experience.  Technology does not do much in a complex interaction (per McKinsey´s articles on interaction).

Trusting is efficient and effective.  It lets us reallocate our resources to what matters and utilize our skills and those around us to increase effectiveness

DMS: Which is why ‘soft-skills’ are so critical in our complex world.  The ability to look at things from many different perspectives, to discover, uncover, understand and empathize is critical.  While everyone says the Millennials are forcing businesses to focus on meaning and purpose for work (outcomes) instead of just money and profit (outputs), I think we’ve always wanted this, just haven’t vocalized them for a variety of reasons. This brings us full circle back to trust and vulnerability.  When we have a common goal of WHY we want to do something, we are better able to trust.

CS: That’s why complex interaction workers are the fastest growing and the best paid part of the labor force.  The Jazzcode governs how we can improve the effectiveness of these workers.  When we never do the same thing or have the same conversation twice, it becomes much more important to figure out why and what we do than how we do it (process, which is a given).  Personal leadership and character become more important.  As work moves from executing scripts to interactive conversations, the need for active listening and presence in the moment is increasing.  We have to challenge the industrial culture in our work places to enable people to have better interactions. Only then can we get the true potential for original ideas and real collaboration.  It is in the give and take of a conversation, which is needed in complexity, that understanding happens.  Just like playing jazz.

DMS: And, just like jazz, the conversation continues…

This originally appeared in Switch and Shift.

An "A" Made it to #1

Whoa!! I can't believe it.  The Switch and Shift post "Are You Just a Leader or a Just Leader" beat the record for number of views, previously held by the wonderful Ted Coiné (and he's not even upset with me!).  I hope it makes a difference for you, your teams, your people... because the difference can be positively profound.  Thank you! 

"There are so many important traits in making a great leader – character, integrity, honesty, authenticity, vulnerability, trustworthiness, conviction, vision, communication and others I’m sure you can name.  Let’s talk about communication.  It’s not just the right words in the right tone; grammar plays a role.  Where you place certain words has a big implication on what is important which impacts the culture. So let me ask you – are you Just a Leader or a Just Leader?"  read on...

Are You Just a Leader or a Just Leader?

A little 1 letter 'article' - "a" makes a huge huge difference - so what kind of leader are you??

"There are so many important traits in making a great leader – character, integrity, honesty, authenticity, vulnerability, trustworthiness, conviction, vision, communication and others I’m sure you can name.  Let’s talk about communication.  It’s not just the right words in the right tone; grammar plays a role.  Where you place certain words has a big implication on what is important which impacts the culture.  So let me ask you – are you Just a Leader or a Just Leader?"  read on...

Trust Inc. to be Released November 1st!

Very humbled and honored to contribute to the new book Trust Inc., edited by Barbara Brooks Kimmel.  This book is a collection of essays by internationally known thought leaders on leadership and trust...and then me! I share the story of one of my incredible clients, Menasha Packaging, who epitomizes integrity, character and trust in all they do.  Please order it - read it, share it, but most importantly, live it!!!

Trust Principles for Creativity and Innovation

I'm honored to have Jon Mertz (known to many of us @ThinDifference) guest post. Jon is VP of marketing in the healthcare software industry. He has an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and has worked for companies like Deloitte, IBM, and BMC Software. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a terrific community to inspire Millennial leaders (you should join) and close the gap between two generations of leaders.  Thank you, Jon, for posting here!!! 

Trust Principles for Creativity and Innovation

One of the great things about the generation ahead is that Millennials get trust. They have the trust in themselves and how their ideas can change the world. Embedded within this is a strong community and collaboration angle built into their digital DNA. Working across boundaries is natural. Combined, this generation is unbound from tradition while focused on innovation and creativity to construct better gadgets, apps, mindsets, and art. It is an open field.

While this is true, the principle of trust needs to be revisited. A balance between self and community is necessary. With this mix, trust enhances actions and collaboration. Millennials, along with all generations, need to embrace this blend.

Creativity and innovation requires a combination of Self-Centered and Community-Centered trust. An evenness is required to create and innovate in more meaningful and productive ways. Within each, there are two trust principles to use.

Self-Centered Trust Principles

Trust your voice. We have a voice. It can encourage or discourage us. It keeps us on track or off track. Which way our voice takes us depends on our self-trust. It isn’t over-confidence. It is self-confidence with a strong center of purpose-filled action. In other words, with a clear purpose, the clarity of our voice will grow and, along with it, our trust levels rise in what we have to say, do, and act upon. All gain strength with clarity of a purpose-driven voice.

Trust your voice in what you are creating and innovating. Trust your purpose.

Trust your strength. There will be critics in every balcony. Taking your creative work or innovative solutions outside can be harsh at times. To take the steps outside your comfort zone, a strong presence of trust in your ideas, innovation, or work of art is vital. Whatever you are working on has made it this far so continue to trust in what you have created.

Time is too short to be ignorant. Trust your concept but verify, enhance, verify again, and decide steps forward. With each step, your creation and innovation will gain in strength. Keep strength in your ideas and build insight.

Community-Centered Trust Principles

Trust others. At times, it feels easier to go it alone. We feel we can just maintain our focus and eventually we will win over others. However, it is equally important to remember how different perspectives can add value to our ideas and concepts. Involving others in the brainstorming and creating process broadens our own views. By engaging others, we can incorporate a more human-centered design, too. We can begin to empathize more and see how we can modify our innovations to better fit how people will actually use them.

Use the variety of opinion to strengthen what you are working on. Your views need to be balanced with broader perspectives. A community offers diversity, and diversity strengthens anyone. Trusting in your community will empower your ideas more than if you are all alone.

Trust in tension. Anytime we ask for feedback, we open ourselves up. We become vulnerable. In the vulnerable moments, a tension begins. It is a tension between acceptance and rejection. The reality is tension creates an enlightening force. It tightens our ideas and heightens our awareness. Embracing productive tension results in improved thoughts, better concepts, and enhanced innovation.

Healthy tension is required to refine and validate. We need to trust the feedback and trust in our vulnerable moments of placing our ideas and art out in our community.

Trust Simply Makes Art and Innovation Work

Trust makes everything work better. It is just that simple.

Trust is discussed often in terms of relationships, culture, partnerships, and agreements. It provides the foundation for human interaction to stand upon and conduct conversations, transactions, and education in a productive, engaging, and enjoyable way.

Just as trust is central in all of those things, it is also needed in creativity and innovation. Trust takes on a new role of being self-centered and community-centered. By embracing trust in his manner, it removes barriers and enables extension across boundaries, especially generational ones.

To get the best ideas and move our created works forward, trust plays an essential role. Millennials need to use trust as a principle in what they create, and we all need to engage in a trust-based way to support innovative thoughts and works.

What role does trust play in your ideas, innovations, and artwork?

Collaboration for the Long Term

I'm re-posting from the archives because the issue of real, authentic collaboration has been coming up a few times a lot lately, especially in light of the Vulnerability & Trust Leadership Paradox radio showJohn Hagel, Saul Kaplan and Mike Waite did with me a few weeks ago.  Menasha Packaging has a legacy of integrity and authenticity - going back 164 years. These posts demonstrate their commitment to team work, collaboration and how they value their people.... read on, re-read on and listen and learn - so many gems of wisdom in here.

Sustaining Collaboration for Decades: Part I
Sustaining Collaboration for Decades: Part II 

The Serendipity Machine

I met Sebastian Olma of Serendipity Lab through my friend Joe Pine. Yes, you can orchestrate serendipity!! Sebastian, an organization hacker, is the author of The Serendipity Machine - the inspiring story of the highly innovative, international coworking network Seats2meet.com. Sebastian and his partner Yulia Kryazheva travelled to many of the company’s locations worldwide (85+) to talk to stakeholders involved in the mesh on which the company is thriving.  This is a fabulous story - let's make it work here!

Transforming your Business into a Serendipity Machine: The Case of Seats2meet.com

Sebastian Olma

Step 1: Opening up

About 5 years ago, a then rather traditional Dutch meeting business started to scan its environment for innovation stimuli when it noticed a new group of professionals the company had never really dealt with before: independent professionals, aka knowmads, digital bohemians, free agents and so on. Mariëlle Sijgers and Ronald van den Hoff, owners of the company that was to become Seats2meet.com, knew instantly that they wanted this dynamic new breed of professionals within their company but weren’t entirely sure how they should go about it. So they did something that is actually against the law of business: they put a table into their lounge and invited them in free of charge. Van den Hoff recalls:

“In the beginning, we had this one table with 20 seats. I mean, we thought that would be the size of this thing, the number of people we could perhaps expect. And we didn’t want to register them or anything, or make them pay for their lunch. We just thought it would be great to have this new group of independent professionals around, give them some space to work and connect, and get some liveliness into those otherwise empty spaces in return… But we were literally overrun by them.”

By opening its lounge to the growing network of independent professionals, Seats2meet.com began to build an interface between its business and the wealth of social networks. The company understood that having 100 people sitting in your lounge tweeting, posting, texting and emailing about how great your space is is priceless. The power of viral marketing makes it sensible for Seats2meet.com to provide workspaces without asking for financial compensation.

Of course, this strategy only works because Seats2meet.com also offers a premium service: its meeting and office spaces. In the Seats2meet.com flagship location in Utrecht, for instance, the viral buzz in the open lounge leads to an average 95 per cent utilization of the meeting spaces. So formally, Seats2meet.com has created a freemium model that enables it to share a substantial portion of its physical assets with the growing number of independent professionals on a noncommercial basis. In return, they were able to get rid of their marketing department.

Step 2: Inventing a Currency

The next step was to use to find a way of formalizing the exchange taking place in the lounge. So Seats2meet.com invented a currency for nonmonetary, nontransactional exchange, aptly calling it social capital. What Seats2meet.com accepts as a payment for the use of its open lounges is simply the adoption of a particular attitude. It is an attitude of openness and sharing that anyone operating within a social network needs to have anyway.

For this purpose, Seats2meet.com requires its users to register via its app or website before they book a workspace. Each prospective user is asked to include a photo (or a hookup with his or her Twitter and/or LinkedIn account) and specify his or her particular skills and expertise. Every time a user books a workspace, he or she signs an agreement stating:

“As you are not paying with money for your workspace, we expect you to pay with social capital: to be open to unexpected and valuable encounters and to share your knowledge and talents!”

Clearly, paying with social capital doesn’t exclusively mean paying Seats2meet.com. It also means paying tribute to the social network physically present at the location by contributing to its strength and purpose. At Seats2meet.com, they have a term for this: “serendipity.” In the Seats2meet.com context, serendipity means the increased likelihood of an encounter that will add value to a user’s entrepreneurial activity. The company understands it as the fabric out of which value is created in the network economy. Serendipity is fed by the constant exchange of social capital. Seats2meet.com makes an enormous effort to develop the best technology available to support this serendipity. This is why it asks users to sign in to the system: doing so allows them to see the current state of the Seats2meet.com social network.

This is done via a real-time community dashboard, which lists the registered users and organizes their skills in a cloud. This enables the user to decide on the best Seats2meet.com location based on the skills of people available at each. A dashboard screen on the wall is also an integral part of every Seats2meet.com location, giving users the opportunity to always see who is present at every site. A web designer we met in the workspace at Utrecht railway station says, “This is a great tool! I always use it to Google who’s around before I start working.” For other users, it serves as a contingency tool, something they can use “to always find an accountant or a developer in case of emergency.”

Whatever its different modes of application might be, the dashboard screen visualizes the Seats2meet.com network at any given time, turning the open lounge into a veritable serendipity machine. As soon as one enters a Seats2meet.com open lounge, one is able to see the skills and competencies of everyone present at the push of a button.

Step 3: Building a Mesh 

By combining the traditional logic of money capital with the new logic of social capital Seats2meet.com has not just created a mutually beneficial interface between those worlds. The company has also created a platform for new kinds of value networks that together are co-creating a new economic playing field. There is indeed a “mesh” that has formed around Seats2meet.com, i.e., a constellation of networks of professionals forming a dynamic collective intelligence to which everyone contributes meaningfully in his or her own way. The mesh dynamically connects networks, raising their capacity exponentially. This is not your relatively static Facebook or LinkedIn group: people come and go all the time; networks connect, disconnect, and reconnect. Yet the mesh as an ecosphere remains intrinsically stable; it evolves, and this is the condition for its survival.

In mesh networks, people act as sovereign “nodes,” deciding for themselves whether or not to share information with other networks. Therefore, the networks themselves become extraordinarily dynamic and flow into each other, forming a mesh. This makes it difficult to determine the exact place of value creation within the mesh. It no longer happens between four walls under a single roof in a building with the company’s name on it. The actual site of value creation has, in fact, become a non-space, a mesh of distributed relations waiting to be engaged by an organization in order to do what the mesh does best: create value.

The future will belong to organizations that embed themselves within their “own” mesh. You cannot, of course, own or control a mesh. However, it is possible for an organization to turn itself into a serendipity machine by connecting to and sharing resources with potential stakeholders. This is the way to co-create a mesh, and the only way to construct a resilient guarantor of future value creation.



If You Aren't Scared, You Aren't Leading

Do you find leadership daunting?  Even scary?  I do.  Frankly, I think we should.  Leading others carries a huge responsibility.  It is not for the faint of heart, for those afraid of being wrong, for those who want comfort and stability, or for those who need external affirmation.

I’ve been doing more mentoring lately of C-suiters, those in line for the C-suite and entrepreneurs (serial, new, aspiring).  And then of course there are my wonderful clients who hire me to help them create living, innovative, actionable, measureable, adaptable strategies.  Whew! You know what? It’s scary! Seriously!  I don’t mean this to sound arrogant, quite the reverse.  It’s rather humbling! What if I mess up? What if I give the wrong advice and they follow it?

When you’re a leader, people look to you for direction, discernment and hope.  Leadership is partly a job of probability – the probability that you are right a lot more than you are wrong and the probability that when you are wrong, the consequences aren’t as profound as they could be.  I’ve been privileged to help (almost all) my clients grow – create profits that let them continue to delight their customers, provide meaningful jobs to their employees and better their communities.  When they don’t, people’s lives, families and communities are affected.

That’s why I think the best leaders are humble and vulnerable with a quiet confidence…enough confidence to ask “Why” and “Why not”, to say, “I don’t know” and “Will you help me?”  Authentic leaders are trustworthy AND competent.  These go hand in hand, creating a virtuous circle: 

  • You build trust because you know your stuff very well but not flawlessly;
  • You are competent because, aside from ‘book knowledge’ and experience, you are willing to learn, listen, be open-minded and trust other opinions as well as your own.

So, what about you and the leaders around you – who you work for, with and nurture.  Are you trustworthy AND competent? What can you do to help the leaders around you be more of both? And what can you do to make sure you are? Just a step at a time, a day at a time.

You've GOT to be Kidding!

Mark Twain said, "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." Fiction pales in light of the Patreaus fiasco. I am simply astounded at Patraeus' grievously poor judgment and lack of virtue.  The relationships and timing of all these events vis-a-vis the yet-to-be-revealed real truth about the Benghazi tragedy call so much into question - about our national security, decisions made about/in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc.  If you ever doubted how fast trust can be lost, doubt no more.  We have a legacy of distrust.

It seems like our government is out of control, out of touch...living on a different planet with a different set of mores and morals.  Are these the groaning sounds of a system at the precipice?  I keep hearing the creaking of metal in the process of failure before it crashes...failure and fatigue.  Can you name a significant government agency or department that has not been embroiled in a scandal in the past few years? And many of theses are ones entrusted with the safeguarding of our country.

Two of my sages, John Hagel and Steve Denning, have been warning us for years about the frailty and impending implosion of our institutions and institutional practices.  We have not heeded their warnings and on November 6th, we yet again preserved the status quo.  Why? Because...

  • Those are the types that run for nomination of their parties?  Why?
  • Those that are willing to tell the truth and call it like it is don't make it far enough to get nominated?  Why?
  • We citizens really don't want to hear bad news and see reality? We want our officials to make "it all better"?  Why?
  • We don't really want to sacrifice what's needed to buttress up the foundations of this country? Why?
  • The rewards of doing so are too far in the future? We no longer have a common vision of what America stands for to instill common sacrifice? Why?

I don't know the answer, only some of the questions to ask. But I do know this, Churchill was right when he said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”  America highlights the paradox of democracy and freedom.  And yet, despite all of America's issues, people still flock to our shores for survival, people still want to start their businesses here and we are still the beacon for freedom.  Yes, I can handle the paradox of being both horrified at the betrayal of trust and corruption of our government and proud to be an American and be free.

So, this Thanksgiving, while some of us sit at tables bursting with abundance, some in dark homes filled with sand, water and ruin, some in shelters, some by hospital beds, some in barracks in Afghanistan, give thanks for the gifts of trusting relationships and freedom.  Give thanks....and give those whose lives, well being, livelihoods are entrusted to you the same gifts...of trust, integrity, and freedom...from your spouse to the janitor in the plant.  Give thanks.

Thanksgiving of Trust

Tomorrow is a day of thanksgiving and blessing for me.  It is the 4th Open Innovation Summit at BW’s Center for Innovation & Growth (CIG).  My friend, Saul Kaplan from the Business Innovation Factory, is the keynote speaker and two other friends are on the panel. For the past 3 Summits, friends-clients-colleagues have taken a flyer (literally), trusting me, to come share stories, sacrificing a few days at the office.

I am honored and very humbled that these people would give up their time, other opportunities and fly or drive hours to share their stories with people they don’t know in a part of the country they have no ties to because I asked.

Why did they do this? Trust. Trust is a very precious gift –to give and to receive.  It must be treated with tremendous stewardship and care.  I have amazing friends and colleagues.  Some of these relationships started in real life and some started via Twitter or “cold calls”.  How these relationships started has no bearing on their depth and meaning.  What has bearing is their nurturing, transparency, vulnerability and sharing.  Yes, sharing.  Trusting relationships are gifts to share.

So, as you approach thanksgiving, take a few minutes to reflect on the people who trust you, who’ll take a flyer on you, who’ll support you.  Do you do the same for them? How have you positively impacted their lives at any level? Brought them wisdom? Brought them joy? Each and every one of them is a gift that’s been entrusted to you – treat those gifts accordingly…let them know.

Happy Thanksgiving.