Trust is the lubricant for transactions.

Trust is the lubricant for transactions. ~Don Peppers

Growing up with three older brothers on a farm, I was more than encouraged to learn a thing or two about auto mechanics. Of course I needed to know how to check my oil, change a tire, and I was also given a thorough course in how to change my own oil (which I never actually opted to do). Understanding the importance of well-maintained lubricants so engines run efficiently is something I’ve been familiar with for quite some time.

For decades, business academic curriculum and organizational practices have focused heavily on transactions – systems, production, processes, policies, project management, etc. All of those transactions represent the metal parts of an engine, which are necessary, but without any grease, oil, or lubricant, it’s just metal rubbing against metal. Not efficient, and a really good chance the engine won’t even run. Don Peppers, with thoughts by Faisal Hoque, describe the new era of organizations.

Trust is the lubricant.

Trust is the lubricant for transactions. We no longer work in an era in which we try to make everything as efficient as possible; rather, we’re trying to be more agile and more innovative, to move more quickly with our iterations. Relationships are the bandwidth within an organization, which means we need to be deliberate in forming them.

I spend a great deal of time working with organizations on strategic planning. I’ve learned, maybe the hard way, that effective strategic planning is supported by deliberate and intentional leadership development and coaching. Or, said another way, forming the relationships (i.e., bandwidth) so the strategic plan can gain traction and move the organization forward.

It’s still very common for individuals with innate strategic thinking and analytical skills to move into leadership positions within organizations. Strategy is still critical. However, strategy without attention to relationships and culture—the lubricant that builds trust and enables the transactions to take hold—is short-lived with only minimal success. It’s like metal rubbing against metal; inefficient and many times painful. 

Relationships are the bandwidth.

Trust is the lubricant for transactions and relationships are the bandwidth within organizations. Trust is the lubricant for transactions and relationships are the bandwidth organizations. That’s not a typo; I intended to repeat myself because I think it’s worth repeating. 

I frequently watch executives study numbers, charts, and data in an effort to create a business strategy to turnaround or re-invigorate their organization. They do this with the belief that if they can make the numbers make sense, then everything will easily fall into place. And the numbers are important; I’m not intending to discount sound financial and analytical management. However, that’s simply not enough, not today. The real bandwidth of today’s organizations is not balance sheets and cash flow statements. 

Just in case you missed the point I was trying to emphasize: Trust is the lubricant for transactions and relationships are the bandwidth within organizations. It’s another paradox of leading with bold grace.

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