Agile 2007: The First Thing to Build - Trust on Agile Teams

Diana Larsen is a special sort of nut.  She's an organizational development and communications expert, not a technologist.  Her sessions touch on many of the softer skills necessary to thrive on a team (any team, not just an Agile team). 

I've been seeking out and attending Diana's sessions since my first experience with her and her toys back at ADC 2004 when she ran a Discovery Session that explored self-organization.  (Speaking of the toys, I didn't see them this year.  Where were they, Diana?)

In this session, Diana explored the concept of trust, starting with a quote from Brad Appleton:  "The first thing to build is trust."  I took several pages of notes during the session.  But, of everything, one point stood out for me:  individuation.

Individuation is the process of getting to know someone as a person, finding out what differentiates them as an individual.  Without individuation, all you have to judge someone are the stereotypes and prejudices that you carry with you.  (And, I with me.)  In order to truly trust someone, you must get to know them personally.

It seems so simple that it's almost silly.  But, I'd never thought about it before.  And, it explains a lot about my own behavior and that of others with whom I've worked.

During the course of the session, Diana recommended several books, including:

And, one of the folks at my table highly recommended another, related book:

There was much more to the talk than I'm mentioning here.  I recommend looking through Diana's slides if you are interested in more information.  The slide on symptoms of distrust (12) is work the click alone!