InnovatingSMART Interview: Building Trust

No Surprises

Posted by Sue Lebeck  (This story was originally posted on InnovatingSMART)

Trust is at the core of what I care about.

Trust is the sustainable-design-quality behind the "T" in "SMART" innovation.  Trust is also at the center of our work at StarNet, where we create conditions for leaders across an industry to come together to lift their shared innovation platform, creating higher ground on which to compete. 

Indeed, trust is the most needed where the goal is the most ambitious.   So I was especially pleased to sit down with Susan Lucas-Conwell, successful CEO of SVForum who last year took the reins at the Great Place to Work institute, whose very mission is to help organizations build trust that could lead to Fortune (Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For, that is).

Before our chat, Susan gifted me with a copy of The Trustworthy Leader, hot off the presses, by Institute co-founder Amy Lyman.  Drawing on twenty years of research, Amy observes the process of trust as a circular one -- an evolving cycle based in Honor and capable of Moving through Uncertainty, applying the practices of Inclusion, Engaging Followers, Sharing Information and Developing Others.  These trust practices are discussed in detail, and demonstrated through stories of great workplaces in her book.  Ultimately, Amy summarizes Trust as "integrity between actions and words."   Or, as my partner at StarNet likes to say, "No Surprises".

To that end, I'd like to let you know now that changes are ahead for InnovatingSMART.  I am committed to sustaining and building this living narrative of sustainable innovation and practice.   Yet in light of the exciting demands of working at StarNet, and the desire to keep InnovatingSMART fresh and relevant, some shift will need to emerge.   What shift?  We hold that as a question for now.   In the meantime, we will take our space in July, and return to you with hints of this narrative's next chapter in late August.Have a great summer, full of adventure and wonder, but if possible "No Surprises".  Enjoy!

Building Trust at Great Place to Work

Any Company can be A Great Place to Work 


Helping startups and existing companies to create great workplace cultures – with Trust at their centers -- which can drive exceptional business results.

  • I like to say that we are the Wizard of Oz behind the "Fortune List [of Best Companies]"....We have a great social mission, able to change people’s lives...with a great name, [but] with little branding recognition.
  • We help companies benchmark against [Great Place] “Olympic athletes”... Where are you on the journey to become a great workplace culture? ... It's like being a company coach, with all the stats in mind... There’s lots and lots of data.
  • Robert Leverin was asked by "Fortune" [magazine] to write a book about great workplaces, to which he said "There aren't any".  .... So he on his coauthor went on journey to interview companies....
  • What were the key ingredients?  What distinguished a great company?  Trust came out.
  • [We conduct] a quantitative study, then the culture audit, the qualitative piece.
  • In many cases we have stories of wonderful companies. They come out on top of their industries, because of what they created and installed.  It is the soft stuff that is the tough stuff.
  • Today the theme of Trust has become mainstream.   What if it were trulymainstream? and every place was a great workplace?
  • Advice: Stop and listen to the people -- your people.... In Silicon Valley, we are very good about thinking about the technology, and not thinking about the people.... Life isn't about a line of code.  It's about the people.