The Magic of Safety | How Trust Enables Great Collaboration and Innovation
April 24, 2018
It is not earth shattering to say that collaboration and innovation are key business assets whatever industry or sector you are in. But less has been said about the foundation on which effective collaboration and innovation rest. Trust, and the psychological safety it creates is THE great enabler of collaboration and innovation.
Google says there are 8 pillars of innovation while Innovators 360 purports to have struck on 5. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology teaches that there are 4 such pillars, and the software company, SAP, suggests there are 3. It would seem that when it comes to innovation strategies and models, the leading architects of organisational culture agree that a classical style is best, but disagree on just how many supporting columns are needed.
But whether innovation should be understood as having 8, 5, 4 or 3 pillars, there is general consensus about the nature of those key supports for proactive innovation strategy: The common theme across the literature on innovation (and the same goes for expert opinion on collaboration in fact) is that cultures that thrive are characterised by the following things:
- Open sharing of information;
- Trading perfectionism for the view that it is ok to fail; and
- Strategic partnerships
“When innovation is the aim, the ability to cultivate trustworthiness and build appropriate levels of trust are not just a soft-skills; they are the foundations on which the success of any innovation strategy rests.”
The above ingredients for business success can be arranged into however many different pillars you like, but it is these things that must be in place if an organisation is to bring about positive change through collaboration and innovation. This is because innovation is a collaborative process, and collaboration will fail unless information can be shared, perspectives can be challenged, and there is room to learn from mistakes.
But, as already mentioned, something critical is missing from the received wisdom about how to develop an innovation strategy.
In sharing their insight about the pillars of innovation, groups like Google have demystified the workings of the greatest changemakers. But they have said less about the key ingredient of positive change: trust.
- Without trust, the ‘open sharing of information’ will not happen.
- Without trust, it is difficult for groups to shed cultures of perfectionism.
- Without trust, strategic partners will be stunted by ‘checking up’ on each other and fail to collaborate effectively.
In short: if you want to enable great collaboration and innovation in your company, trust should be THE priority. Because, when innovation and effective ways of working together are key aims, cultivating trustworthiness and building appropriate levels of trust are not just soft-skills; they are the foundations on which the success of your business strategy rests.
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