Trustless in Seattle and Elsewhere!



This is another blog on our company values (from our 10 ATBs), a series underscoring a more modern look at value driven organizations.

Story: I used to be able to walk on an airplane at the Edmonton Industrial Airport, five minutes before take off. In fact, I wouldn’t even have to buy a ticket because I used pre-purchased flight coupons. Imagine… No security line-ups when flying. Just walk on the plane and go. Then of course, 9/11 changed everything. We could no longer trust the intentions of others when boarding planes, and subsequently built the massive, worldwide security systems we have today. Inspection is always non-value added, yet unfortunately, too often a necessary activity. The risk of complete trust can sometimes be just too high. This situation has cost airlines/passengers trillions of dollars.

Key Point: For more than 40 years, I have been part of many cost-cutting activities. CFOs and/or CEOs, often lead these initiatives and typically end up cutting people. Unfortunately, it’s the easiest line item to attack. Yet rarely can I recall these same execs tackling their biggest cost: Mistrust. But when one thinks about it, the largest waste in almost all companies is based on this value missing in action. Any type of inspection, redundancy, and reporting there of, is costly inefficiency related to mistrust. Just think about how big the opportunity is.

One of our 10 ATBs is to “Trust and expect the same from others.” We know that if each of us works from the premise of trust, we will do our part and minimize non-value added work. Imagine if we could lend money out, and trust that customers would always pay us back? Imagine how different it would be if we didn’t have to physically and metaphorically “lock things up?” How great would it be if the commitments from other teams or departments were always met? Think of what it would be like if we could always be our true, authentic selves, and not hide things from each other because we could trust what others would do with that insight? What if we could say what we truly felt in meetings, not having to worry about how it might be interpreted? On the other hand, trust, as noted in the best selling book, The SPEED of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey, increases speed enormously because non-value added friction/duplication is removed. How great is that? How amazing would it be to work with others where you could genuinely trust first? Why not?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Think about processes, systems, tools, and policies that are based on mistrust. Ask which ones you might eliminate or change? (Base it on data).
  2. Think about where you have added rules for customers or team members because of mistrust. Often, the cost of maintaining these policies is much more than the occasional violation. Challenge the assumptions underlying these rules. 
  3. Make and meet your commitments, and expect the same from others. Trust first, rather than having others preliminarily earn it. Yes, you might occasionally get burned. And perhaps once in a while, you might have to verify. So what? Living without the friction is a much more gratifying path. 

Speed of Trust in Leadership,


One Millennial View: Unfortunately, I think we can all trust that the utopia of a “trust first” environment is very challenging. I sure know that I don’t want to get “burned,” (literally or figuratively). That said, we have things like TSA Pre, Nexus passes, and tough screening/hiring processes at many companies that give us the ability to prioritize trust over skepticism. Especially for we Millennials, it probably behooves us to lend some speedy trust to our teammates. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis