The Trust Fund

You’ve heard people say, “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” I’m not sure this is a truism, but it is certainly an accurate summing up of how investments are handled i.e. people with money spend it when opportunities for profit arise in order to create more money when those risks pay off.

Additionally, people like Seth Godin talk a great deal about the importance of trust in what he and others refer to as the “Connection Economy.” In short, it is an economy where value is created by connections we make rather than industrial efforts. In this economy, trust is currency.

A scrum team has an invisible “trust fund” from which they draw to fund their autonomous operations. These operations are many and varied but basically come down to self-organized activities that they feel solve problems, benefit the team and by extension the organization as a whole. Think of them as risks that have a return on the trust investment (ROTI).

Picture this, a team feels it will be hugely beneficial to set up automatic monitoring and real-time error logging / notification on the production server; however, they will have to take time out from developing new features to get this accomplished. If this kind of thing is a hard sell, they will have to draw from their trust fund to either convince or persuade their bosses that their time will pay off. If the team is not trusted to make sound decisions, they may be turned down flat. If the team has shown a pattern of making sound decisions that benefit the organization, they will more likely be given the go ahead.


When you have earned trust, how should you spend it?


To make more trust.

Take smart risks; trust is tough to earn and easy to lose. That said, don’t be too afraid of screwing up and losing trust; if your team is not screwing up from time to time, then likely it is not growing.


Jason is a developer, Scrum Master, writer, teacher, coach, husband, father, and community leader out of Tulsa Oklahoma. He's been delivering software since 2007 and absolutely loves the values and principles of agility especially as given form by the Scrum framework.