This is a guest post by Bernd Nurnberger. The original on his blog – Community of practice and trust building

A few days ago I shared my crude model how we go from words to trust. I strung it along: word, definition, context, grammar, meaning, concept, understanding, salience, insight, trust, reputation. I believe each prior step must be present and perceived by both partners in an interaction before the next step gets good traction.

Being in the people business of establishing technical trust – as I am – is an interesting combination of challenges: engineering, salesmanship, diplomacy, organization and administration, combined with awareness for the needs of future users of what we test and certify, and the needs and expectations of society.

Seeking a competitive edge in this usually means working without a model, or just making one up and test it, see what sticks and build on that. We might see whether we get closer to the goal. That matters. Insight into what’s best comes with routine, where do we have that at the edge?

Trust is a non-negotiable essential in business. (via ingenesist blog)  So, being in business is basically about trust. Establishing and verifying trust, documenting it, so it can be shared, swiflty, without every business partner having to redo what led to the trust.

To me, competitive edge is all about faster, yet secure trust building, towards more intense knowledge flows and learning from each other.


  1. open personal profiles (self-declaration)
  2. shared conversation, activity stream, searchable (enabling independent verification)
  3. recommendations, awards, certifications (independent third-party opinion)
  4. co-action, collaboration (co-creating work products)
  5. success , and sharing it (experiencing demand for work products, or admiration)

Trust destroyers

  • Making excuses or blaming others.
  • Jumping to conclusions without checking facts.
  • Avoiding taking responsibility.
  • Sending inconsistent or mixed signals.
  • Acting more concerned about your own welfare than anything else.
    Source: The Challenge Network Whom Do We Trust?

Out of self-preservation our minds are programmed to scan for suspicious signs to prevent having our trust betrayed, and if it happens, we almost automatically score the loss of trust. If it is about a product or an organization, we may drop it. If it is about people, we may react with deep emotion.

Losing trust is much faster than building it, which could be a reason for feeling that trust is eroding everywhere. What if this is a cognitive bias? What can we do to accelerate trust-building?

Image credit: Map of Online Communities , (CC) by D’Arcy Norman

German by birth, graduated electronics engineer, B2B salesman for electronic measurement equipment, some design and programming experience, product safety inspector, management system auditor, department builder, coach, seminar lecturer, collaborative learner.

follow Bernd on twitter @CoCreatr