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    February 2, 2024

    Organizational Trust: Establishing a Solid Foundation

    In today’s business environment, there’s a constant imperative to move quickly, maximize efficiency, and boost value delivery. When there’s a lack of trust among teams and leaders, all those objectives can be stymied. This post looks at why trust is so critical in an enterprise and it offers some key insights for cultivating trust across the organization.

    Trust is essential, and fragile

    Within an enterprise, building trust among diverse teams can be a significant undertaking. However, even after all that work, trust can also quickly and easily evaporate. Often, it can take just one broken commitment, one ill-advised initiative, or instance of using analytics punitively to raise doubt or erode trust.

    Particularly as the demands within environments continue to intensify, trust represents a fundamental enabler of business success. Therefore, cultivating trust remains a critical imperative for enterprise leaders. In fact, one survey by PwC found that 91 percent of CEOs pointed to trust as playing a pivotal role in their organization’s success.

    In working to cultivate trust, executives face a few key obstacles:

    • Lack of transparency. Teams and leaders need clear visibility into plans, work, and progress. Without this visibility, inefficiencies proliferate and mistrust grows.
    • Issues with tracking progress. In large enterprises, it represents a massive effort to track how teams are progressing in their delivery of value to customers. Often, teams and leaders have to rely on manually updated status reports and meetings to try to gauge progress. When trust in these labor-intensive, error-prone efforts is compromised, challenges can spiral, and trust can take a nosedive.
    • Difficulty in alignment and issue resolution. Trust and transparency are vital in keeping disparate teams aligned. This is often particularly problematic when it comes to business and IT teams, which have long suffered from disconnects. This lack of transparency and trust stifles collaboration and creates waste and inefficiencies.

    The gulf between organizations with trust, and those without

    When it comes to cultivating trust, organizations tend to fall into one of two categories:

    • Lacking trust. In one group, teams within many organizations are contending with unrealistic strategies and manually maintained spreadsheets. These teams fundamentally lack trust in their data, which makes decision-making more challenging and saps overall effectiveness. Given these challenges, these organizations are more likely to fall behind in their markets.
    • Complete, sustained trust. In the other category, teams are equipped with value-based plans and metrics. In contrast, these teams have absolute confidence in their data and can objectively track how their investments are performing. In this way, teams gain the ability to optimize value delivery and adapt more quickly.

    When teams are saddled with unreliable reports and constantly shifting targets, performance suffers. Leaders can’t accurately assess the true performance of their teams or their strategic investments. Ultimately, these factors stifle execution, and hinder the success of key initiatives.

    The solution

    Data represents the foundation of decision-making. When data becomes unreliable, trust can be fragile and easily erode. To combat these obstacles, enterprises need to establish cohesive digital operating models that are sustained by a singular, real-time data source.  This solid, reliable data source represents a strong foundation for trust.

    By establishing these optimized digital operating models, teams can boost visibility, strengthen trust, and provide more value to customers. This model requires teams to align both business and IT teams around customer value. By focusing on shared outcomes and objectives and establishing clear metrics, leaders can position their organizations for success.

    To achieve these outcomes, Value Stream Management (VSM) has become a powerful framework. VSM offers a key way to realize the establishment of these digital operating models. VSM helps teams create a set of practices that are centered on enabling software organizations to enhance the flow of value. VSM is focused on aligning processes and teams around the preferences, requirements, and needs of customers.

    At its core, VSM entails analysis and optimization of the end-to-end value flow within the organization. Through VSM, organizations can be better positioned to create superior products and services. VSM represents a holistic approach that promotes visibility and alignment, so teams can enjoy more trust throughout the organization, and deliver more value to customers.


    In the pursuit of strategic digital transformation initiatives, trust represents a make-or-break factor. Today, VSM is indispensable for fostering the trust required. Through VSM, organizations can establish the digital operating models that fuel seamless alignment and enhanced value delivery.

    To learn more about how VSM can help your organization boost trust, visibility, and value, please review our white paper, Improve Organizational Trust. This paper offers an introduction to the challenges teams encounter as they seek to build trust, and it shows how teams can overcome these obstacles. 

    Laureen Knudsen

    Laureen Knudsen is an award-winning senior business leader with 15+ year career that spans IT, financial and healthcare systems, and analytics. Co-Author of Modern Business Management: Creating a Built-to-Change Organization. Laureen leads a team of experts working to define the future of business to bring Lean...

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