The Ufirst Project

From the Desk of Sean Jackson: Trust but Verify

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Executive Director

Sean updating the Ufirst Project kanban board

As I mentioned in my post last month, trust is a vital component of our collective ability to overcome obstacles. Trust is also at the heart of continuous improvement.

A commitment to continuous improvement helps to nurture trust by instilling confidence that a person or process is behaving in a predictable and appropriate manner. It is a commitment among all participants to be focused, transparent, and observant regarding what needs to be done and how we plan to do it. Inevitably, gaps emerge between what we expect and what we receive, either in terms of the result or in terms of the experience. We improve by resolving the gaps between expectations and results.

How do we do this?

We wonder why.

When we wonder why we catalyze our observations with our natural curiosity. To wonder why means that we trust enough to invite others to participate with us in challenging our collective assumptions to their very roots. We have to wonder, however, and not just ask why. Think about the difference between saying, “Why did they do that?” versus “I wonder why they did that?” While the difference may seem subtle, it is extremely important.

When we ask only “why?” we cease to wonder. When we cease wonder, fear steps in and begins to erode trust.

When we cease to wonder, we abandon truth for judgment.

When we are committed to continuous improvement, whenever results fail to match expectations, we wonder why, and experiment until we are able to produce the desired results in a manner that delights the participants in the process.

Trust, but verify. If there is a gap, wonder why. Experiment and change until all are delighted.

That is how we pursue perfection.