Speed of Rule Trust


Mark Lonsway


A while back, we got to attend a workshop that referenced the “Speed of Trust” by the other Covey, Stephen M.R. not Franklin. It was a great eye-opener in conveying how strong relationships and trust are primary drivers to productivity and efficiency. I chalked it up to the “good to know” file and moved on with my day-to-day. Sometime later after being involved with a number of client implementations, I got to thinking, what is the difference between a good number of these projects that go awesomely as compared to a few others that go…meh, not so much.

What are the root causes when things don’t go so well?

Is it the sheer technical complexity?

Is it over-whelming business process obscurity?

Or maybe some dark-force conjuring project entropy?

Certainly, these can all be contributors, but one lesser-known consideration that I have seen first-hand is when there is an inexplicable hesitation from team members to embrace, adopt, and run with a rule-based solution, even when it’s working. I’m thinking…”what’s the hold-up? This is good-to-go, now git on your rule authoring horses!”…but then…crickets, and progress stagnates. You begin to get the vibe that the rules are held captive in the aura of the dreaded “black box.” But it isn’t a black box, it’s all right there and probably more open than the majority of the platforms they have worked with. Where’s the love? the understanding, the…trust?”

Zingo! there’s that word again…

And I think it resonates here big time. The team has not developed the level of trust they need in order to work with the solution effectively. There are too many grumpkins and gremlins abounding in the inner-recesses of the rules, and they cannot be trusted! But what to do? Why was the precious trust eroded or not even forged in the first place? Again there can be many contributing factors, but time and dedication to familiarize oneself with the rules is way up on the list. Trust needs to be built over time, so no matter how elegant the solution or powerful the tool, the trust cannot just self-manifest, it must be earned incrementally through meaningful involvement.

Can this cycle be reversed? Absolutely!

It all starts with making the investment of time to analyze and organize the rules. Once a working rapport with the rules is established, the benefits can be exponentially realized. Suddenly, where there was trepidation to make the most basic of rule changes there is now downright bravado to take on more challenging enhancements. This is possible, because the confidence and efficiency brought on by the trust in the rules makes it so. It is truly rewarding to see this transformation along with the number of “ah ha” moments that can occur when real rule ownership takes root. It’s the essence of what Loren’s Magic of Self Service post is referring to.

In closing, I think Stephen M.R. Covey’s principles of trust can apply to technology and rules in the same manner as they do organizations and teams. It may not be something that is listed on the project plan, but it is an equally important aspect of the project to be aware of and nurture, because it drives how fast and how well things get done. So maybe putting “In Rules We Trust” along with the matrix below up on the sprint room whiteboard might not be such a bad idea.