On trust

Building a great workplace, Trust, Culture, Values

After describing how Futurice operates completely on trust, I'm nearly always asked a question: "How often does this trust get abused?". The question usually arises after I describe how everyone at the company gets a company credit card on their first day, how expense reports are not approved and how people are given the power to make decisions about just about anything themselves.

Answering this question is difficult because the issue is just so foreign. When you place your trust in a person – and I mean true, absolute trust – the threshold to misuse it is extremely high. Unfathomably high. Doing something that would result in you losing that trust isn't even an option.

The situation is different when you only "trust" someone. "Yeah, I trust you, but can you send it to me once you're done so I can go over it...". I'm sure many have heard something similar. That's not trust, that's a skin-deep appearance that shows that, deep down inside, you really don't trust the person.

In order to be trusted, you have to start by trusting others. Bringing trust into an organization starts at the leadership level. Start trusting the people you lead, and they will start trusting you. This is the first step in building a culture that is based on trust.

Back to the original question. I've always replied that, yes, mistakes sometimes happen – which is fine – but there has never been a case of this trust being willfully abused. And as long as people continue truly trusting each other, I believe this will continue being the case.