Designing for Trust

My work focuses on building trust into the system to create a trust-based way of working. I will help you to apply design criteria to elements of the organization such as structure, processes and policies. If the criteria include trust, for example, then a trust-based culture is likely to be one outcome of the organization design process.


I learned a lot from Nilofer Merchant’s video series on Skillshare, Why Trust Matters: Increasing Creativity and Innovation at Work.


I’ve always thought of trust as being between individuals. However, trust in organizations is not as simple as that. Everyone agrees it's important, but some organizations struggle to create a culture of trust.


Nilofer explains that management systems are historically based on efficiency and consistency. But for innovation and value creation, we need to focus more on variety. We need to value diverse points of view. She argues that trust is a prerequisite for allowing everyone to bring their unique contribution. This makes so much sense to me! Nilofer suggests that leaders should create the conditions that allow everyone to share their ideas in a safe environment.


This advice is super valuable for organizations trying to be more agile and innovative. It requires leaders to share authority with their teams. It's often a huge cultural change for teams to distribute authority, requiring a strong trust environment.


If you are a leader who is willing to share authority, you could start by focusing on trust. For example, you could take a back seat in team meetings and encourage team members to voice their own ideas. You could share your own mistakes, so people know it’s OK not to be right every time. It’s all about creating an environment of psychological safety.


Building trust is not just about your integrity as a person, although that’s important of course. It also means changing the way of working in the team to create a different culture that will remain after you leave. This is designing for trust.


If you are would like support for an organization (re)design project, contact

Go back