The Speed of Trust

by vernsanders on November 19, 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had the chance to do some much needed reading lately. I say much needed because I’ve found that if I don’t read something in addition to all the “business” reading that I have to do (new books to review, blogs, articles for the magazine and website, etc.), I get stale. A wide-ranging reading discipline not only makes me interesting, it makes me happy.

Last night I started in on a 2006 book by Stephen (the son) Covey entitled The Speed of Trust. The premise is that a low trust quotient between any two parties results in slower speed and higher cost when it comes to getting things done. Covey says that the reverse is also true. I’ll quote his first example for context: 9/11. In 2000, you could get to an airport 30 minutes before a flight left, buy a one way ticket at the counter and still get on the plane. Now,  you have to arrive significantly earlier, and deal with a process that involves very expensive machinery, and many more personnel just to get in the door. Think for the moment about the cost of implementing our security screening system. Now think about the cost of the aggregate “lost” amount of time that is semi-wasted (it was worse before smart phones) while you are standing in line with no shoes.

Here’s another example. A week or so ago, I spoke at the Church Musicians Summit conference in Seattle. My room assignment was in the children’s ministry area of a large church campus. There were many speakers, and 4 of us had rooms along one corridor. Each pair of rooms had “dutch” doors installed between them, with no top half to the door. Each room also had all floor-level electrical outlets disabled. I completely understand and agree with why these modifications are needed. But it got to be a joke in one session, as the two of us sharing a pair of rooms started talking louder and louder to be heard over the other one. Safe for children, but not the best learning environment for adults.

Back to the book. One of the stories (about a negotiation between Warren Buffet and Wal Mart) centered on the fact that a simple handshake was enough to close a complicated deal in 30 days. It reminded me very much of watching my insurance broker father do business with his clients. If they shook hands, the deal was done, and each side trusted that the other would hold up their end of the bargain. Now I know that things have changed significantly since the 1950s and that most people feel that they have to “CYA” with legal counsel in more cases than not. But it has been my experience that I can handshake almost any deal with people with whom I have a trust relationship.

Back to real life. A trust relationship in a business or ministry situation is, I believe, critical to moving forward at almost any speed. In this generation of the worship wars, the lack of trust between pastors and church musicians has been a real barrier to ministry and worship. The “transaction” between the two “warring” parties has become more important than what worship and the ministry is about. Most often, in my experience, each side wants to make sure that the other “pays a price” for getting agreement on anything. Covey says that any less than trustful relationship can be improved, and my experience is that he is right. It does take work, and, often, it takes someone to reach out to try to work together.

Good reading material. Even better “thinking about it” material.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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