Measuring Trust

I attended a Social Media Roundtable yesterday morning and the question of trust came right to the forefront of the cultural debate of why companies should use (or don’t use) social media. A lawyer can poke holes into any argument for or against social media but leaders need to instill a culture of trust in order to see success with social tools and collaborative processes. They need to understand the risk attorneys point out but, ultimately, it is a business decision as to how and when these tools can be used.

A fascinating study was presented at this Roundtable: Edelman’s Barometer of Trust. I never thought trust could be measured but this study shows that people are tending to trust “People Like Me” more than their leaders. I find this shift of placed trust very interesting. Is this phenomenon a result of social media or have people always trusted their peers and social media enabled that to happen?

I would argue with the dawn of social media, people suddenly feel like they have a voice…maybe for the first time at least in consumer circles if not at work. This feeling of desired empowerment is trying to make its way into the business world and so a great struggle ensues in some companies. People want more say and responsibility and some leadership teams are hesitant to trust their employees with decision-making and expertise sharing.

Presenting this barometer of trust idea to leadership may help fuel the business case for why we should integrate social tools into our work processes and communication flows. The command-an-control, top-down method of operating is fading. In the years to come, “People Like Me” will be influencing our decisions and shaping the way we work and share. What an exciting time to be in the middle of knowledge management and collaboration!

Want True Collaboration? Wikify!

The most common question I get about web 2.0 tools is when should we use a wiki? I find this question most interesting. Even though Twitter has been around a lot less time than wikis, it seems like companies have figured out Twitter’s place in their tool box but wikis are still a head-scratcher.

We are so document-centric that it is difficult to understand how wikis could or should fit into the content management – collaboration puzzle. With most wiki software, you can attach files to a page within a wiki but I would not recommend using a wiki as a primary document storage vehicle. Instead, wikis are the ultimate collaboration tool, in my opinion.

When we think of the word “collaboration”, we think of working together, co-creation, teams and even innovation. Wikis are the perfect tool to enable the process of collaboration but require TRUST. To change others’ content, the users of a wiki need to trust each other that if something he or she wrote is deleted or edited, that the person making the change knows better. We also need to have thick skin to accept those changes. Most of us have come a long way from getting deflated at the sight of intimidating red ink our school papers, but one needs to foster a culture that can handle true co-creation just in case!

There can be no ego when using a wiki. Titles are checked at the door when you log in and every person’s opinion counts. If your culture does not accept this then wikis will be difficult to implement but not impossible. Sometimes, it takes new tools like this to prove efficiency and creativity to actually change a culture from being overly hierarchical to more collaborative.

The process requires commitment; the satisfaction is realized in the end result of a great piece of work co-created by many qualified minds. Below are some great applications for wikis:

  • Company Policies: collaboration on a small team (usually Legal and/or HR)
  • Training Guide: collaboration among a specific discipline or management level
  • Lessons Learned Repository: collaboration among one or more project teams
  • Best-Practice Language: collaboration among a project team (document assembly on the cheap)
  • Knowledge Capture/Transfer: collaboration among retiring / exiting population and future population
  • Institutional Knowledge Base: collaboration across the enterprise (great for acronyms, definitions and resource sharing)