Trust is the core quality of any collaborative partnership.
Companies with high degrees of trust can spend their energies leveraging each other’s core strengths and creating value, rather than on compliance, enforcement, or worse, fighting metaphorical fires as a result of poor performance.
To trust or not is a choice. Individuals choose to trust each other and act in a trustworthy manner or not. It is that simple. It is also a choice to expect that partners will act in the best interests of the partnership.
The absence of trust adds to the cost of doing business.
Think back to a recent interaction with an untrustworthy person. A certain amount of what is done before, during, and after that interaction is likely directed at ensuring that there is no deception by the other person. This activity is wasteful, as it does not directly create value for anyone.
The key to successful collaborative business relationships lies in negotiating the relationship based on trust. To establish trust between business organizations, both have to agree on a set of fundamental social norms or principles. These norms are the same ones that govern successful societies. Once businesspeople accept this precept, collaborative relationships will flourish.
In the book Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships, six social norms, referred to as guiding principles, are described that serve as the foundation for collaborative relationships. They are reciprocity, autonomy, honesty, equity, loyalty, and integrity. These principles, so important in our personal endeavors and interactions, also drive collaborative business behaviors and sustainable business partnerships.
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