Swift trust - observation of temporary work teams

As an organizational form, temporary groups turn upside down traditional notions of organizing. Temporary groups often work on tasks with a high degree of complexity, yet they lack the formal structures that facilitate coordination and control (Thompson, I967). They depend on an elaborate body of collective knowledge and diverse skills, yet individuals have little time to sort out who knows precisely what. They often entail high-risk and high-stake outcomes, yet they seem to lack the normative structures and institutional safeguards that minimize the likelihood of things going wrong. Moreover, there isn’t time to engage in the usual forms of confidence-building activities that contribute to the development and maintenance of trust in more traditional enduring forms of organization. In these respects, temporary groups challenge our conventional understandings regarding the necessary or sufficient antecedents of effective organization.

These observations come together in a fascinating puzzle. Temporary systems exhibit behavior that presupposes trust, yet traditional sources of trust — familiarity, shared experience, reciprocal disclosure, threats and deterrents, fulfilled promises, and demonstrations of nonexploitation of vulnerability — are not obvious in such systems. ln this respect, temporary systems act as if trust were present, but their histories seem to preclude its development.

…temporary groups and organizations are tied together by trust. but it is a form of trust that has some unusual properties. In other words, we propose that the trust that occurs in temporary systems is not simply conventional trust scaled down to brief encounters among small groups of strangers. There is some of that. But as we will show, the trust that unfolds in temporary systems is more accurately portrayed as a unique form of collective perception and relating that is capable of managing issues of vulnerability, uncertainty, risk, and expectations. 

Proposition - Reputation

…people in a small labor pool have a higher chance of interacting with one another again in the future. which means their reputations as competent or incompetent people whom others can trust or distrust will follow them and shape these future contacts…

Proposition - Accountability

Inconsistent role behavior and “blurring” of roles will lead to a slower build of trust…This presumes that role blurring heightens uncertainty…

Proposition - Time pressure

…people under time pressure in temporary systems make greater use of category-driven information processing, emphasizing speed and confirmation rather than evidence-driven information processing that is focused on accuracy. 

SOURCE Debra Meyerson (via Stowe Boyd)

Related

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform…but what about Swarm

Organisational design as a Holacracy