Trust and the Dalai Lama

Yesterday I went to an event run by Action for happiness, an organisation that seeks to increase happiness by understanding and applying psychology and neuroscience, and was lucky enough to hear the Dalai Lama speak. One of the many inspiring things he said was that friendship is based on trust and trust based on honesty.   


In one of those coincidences that the universe throws at us, we’ve been thinking about trust at 100%Open recently. Successful open innovation depends on a trusting relationship between large and small companies but this is not easy to establish. A large imbalance of power and a mixture of objectives makes creating such a relationship hard.  And as the Dalai Lama said you don’t create trust in one day, or one week but over many months.

Another way of putting this is that  Co-operation is time and consistency-dependent. Academics call this the Ladder of Trust Effect. What this means in practice when innovating with partners is that it pays to start off with smaller projects and graduate to large ones as the relationship is established, based on real experience of each other. This doesn’t mean that you should choose projects that aren’t real or important. Just smaller with lower risk.

One of the important things about generating trust is that it’s context-dependent. Whether you trust someone depends on what you’re trusting them with and on your relationship.  So when companies start the open innovation journey it can pay to first cooperate with people they know (such as their staff!) and to build up networks gradually as they build a reputation as an open and honest partner.

Once you’ve done that you’ll be in a good position to reap the rewards from an engaged network for years to come.

David Simoes-Brown

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