Last year I wanted to attend the session by Julian Stodd at the Learning Technologies conference but ended up in the wrong room. So this year I made sure to arrive in the right room and at the right time. I’ve been following his blog in the meantime, writing about social learning, social leadership and trust. Julian Stodd talks about a ‘landscape of trust’. It is a landscape because when he asked for narrative accounts for trust, all were different, some talk about love and friendship others about technology. We don’t understand it to be the same thing.

We have to earn trust in organizations

34% of people have no trust, 20% low trust in their organizations. Why would I trust the organization? They don’t have my long term interest at heart. The Number 1 question in organizations: how do we get engagement? People will leave if opportunities sit elsewhere.

Socially dynamic organizations

An organization needs to become socially dynamic. We need high trust network and coherent community, for trust and engagement. True culture is co-created. We need to find unified values.  Why do organizations fail? They fail when their culture fails. Trust seems to reside in strong social ties, built through lived experiences.

Is the foundation of your trust invested in the contract of people? 65% thinks it is in the people, 35% in the contract. The type of trust between two individuals and an individual and the organization is different. We can look at different levels of trust:

  • no trust
  • functional trust (I know I’ll be paid)
  • invested trust
  • social leadership.

For social leadership, it is important how authentic leaders act. Charisma counts. There is a middle layer of managers which is sometimes seems as not trustworthy.

The dynamic tension

As always, social aspects dominate over formal ones. In the highly connected social age- this plays out in an even stronger way. There’s a difference between he formal and the social structure (see the slide here) – The two are superimposed on that. The formal system can never fully control the social system. That’s why tinkering with the formal systems often has little effect.

If you lack trust in organizations, you drive out people. They are less likely to stay, less likely to engage, less committed to help.

Organizations tend focus on systems and rewards, but in fact people appreciate the freedom (see slide below).








What is the influence of technology on this tension?

People trust formal technology less than social technologies. If they have an iphone 7, they will follow a technology differently if they installed it. They trust formal technologies less because for instance there is less space to experiment and to control it. It is very important who sets the rules for a social online space. If somebody takes a screenshot and uses it in a performance review- that lowers trust. There was a research with two different groups working with the same technology. The result was that if people get to set the rules, engagement was 5 times higher. It is important to know who can view: people decided managers that managers can participate only if they engage, not to just read on. Allow people to set their own rules.

I think there are some important point here about trust and the importance of trust. To me it reconfirms my idea that network (inside and outside organizations) and networks of independent workers will become more important, exactly because they can set the rules, there is higher social capital and trust. Ownership is high in networks which grow organically.

What I missed is the link between trust and honest practice sharing. I think you need trust to share what you really think and experience in your own practice, this is how you get innovation. If you share on a superficial level it doesn’t lead to real learning and innovation. How to get to this deeper level of trust?