How To Build Trust

Mike Brown, author of Brainzooming, publishes a weekly guest post on his blog. His guest post this week came from Carol Kobza, the head of Kobza Creativity and a dear friend. Carol’s topic was How to Build Trust in Organizations. The first suggestion Carol listed was “Allow and reward people for discovering problems.” She went on to say: “Identifying a problem is not a criticism. It’s often an honest attempt to creatively improve the way things are done.”

When I teach teams Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats process, I get a favorable reaction to the Black Hat. In the Six Hats process, when Black Hat thinking is called for, everyone looks for the faults, risks, and cautions involved in whatever situation is being discussed or thought about.

Participants, particularly those who are quite good at finding problems, find the Black Hat a breath of fresh air. Too often they have been ostracized from the rest of the team because “they are too negative.” But as Carol points out, these folks are genuinely concerned about their organization and want to make it better. They know platitudes such as “don’t speak of problems, only speak of opportunities” is not only silly but dangerous. Failure to think about what is or can go wrong can cost an organization time, money and customer loyalty.

Once problems are found, they have to be eliminated or gone around (Green Hat Thinking). This also requires trust. All members should at least try to find alternatives to the current situation and trust their ideas will be given fair consideration. Without the willingness to search for alternatives, the person who excels at problem finding will be labeled, whether fair or not, “negative person,” a “whiner,” or a “complainer.”

The great thing about The Six Thinking Hats process is that it reminds all members of the team that both negative thinking and creative thinking have their place. Both are necessary. The Hats enable participants to express themselves wholeheartedly at the appropriate time and place with the knowledge that their remarks are called for and will be respected. The Hats can assist team members in building an environment of trust.

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