Monday, February 4, 2013

Do you trust this formula?

There is an Italian proverb: “fidarsi è bene, non fidarsi è meglio” (“trusting is good; not trusting is better”), but for those attending the Prince Mahidol Award Conference last week in Bangkok , trust was seen as key to effective cross-sectoral solutions, to unite against infectious diseases.

Trust: nebulous, subjective, individual, situational, contextual, relational, cultural, multi-dimensional.  

Trust: we know it when we see it, feel it.

However for an audience consisting mainly of scientists, they were keen to have something more definable, and as a panel contributor, I offered them the trust equation created by Maister, Green and Galford as a perspective. 

Developed as a formula for building sustained partnerships with others in a business advisor role, it may also apply to our leadership, organisations and in our personal lives.

It goes likes this:  Trust = C+R+I/SI

Trust = credibility + reliability+intimacy divided by self-interest.


  • Credibility: is in our words and is revealed in our credentials and honesty.  Can I believe what you say?
  • Reliability:  relates to our actions and is revealed by keeping our promises and commitments. Can I depend on your actions and your word?
  • Intimacy:  relates to our emotions and is revealed in our relationships and communication.  Can I feel secure and safe sharing with you?
  • Self Interest: relates to our caring and is revealed in our focus.  How much are you operating from your own ‘agenda’ or ‘self-focus’?

Perhaps consciously or subconsciously we all have our own ‘trust formula’.  How does this fit with yours?’


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