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Four Reasons You Can Trust a System

March 8, 2021

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“Trust me...” How many of us have heard that before? It could be coming from a friend who is suggesting a new restaurant we've never tried, or a team member who is embarking on a new project. If you are like me, that term makes you bristle in most circumstances. Why?

The truth is, there are different levels of trust. I have organizational trust when a long-standing, healthy company makes decisions as to have been in business for 20+ years, they must be doing something right. I have positional trust with a leader when I am confident that the organization has done their due diligence to ensure they've hired a competent individual into the role. Personal trust comes from experience with an individual over time. It is earned when we see demonstrated, consistent patterns of behaviour over weeks, months and years.

So, why then do we tell people to “trust the system”? How can we trust a system? Well, like personal trust, a system earns it over time. What makes a system trustworthy?

  1. Documentation: A system is clearly documented so anyone who interacts with or within it is clear about its purpose, aim/objective, metrics, and boundaries.
  2. Reliability: Think if like this. I can give the same cookie recipe (documentation) to several home cooks in different kitchens across the country. While there might be some slight variation, for the most part, we expect to see the same results. This provides us with predictability - we know it can work because it has been proven time and time again.
  3. Trainability: Because it is documented and reliable, a system can be easily trained and shared with many people. This allows more team members access to tools that can drive results.
  4. Repeatability: With a variety of people trained and leveraging the system in predictable ways, we can repeat the work of the system wherever and whenever it is needed. I can make that cookie recipe whenever I need snacks for lunches or if I'm just craving something sweet!

So next time someone at work comes to you with an idea or an approach and follows it up with a “trust me”. Ask yourself this, “Are they asking me to trust them personally, or am I being asked to trust a system?” If you are being asked to trust a solid system, you likely have nothing to worry about.

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