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The Agile Trust Factor

I’m always pleased when we get the chance to help clients who are utilizing or implementing agile methodologies to their development. It may be based in software development, but the principles and values inherent in it are applicable to any workplace. The focus on measurable results, emphasis on client communication, and efficiency of time all strongly resonate with the work environment we strive to maintain here at Morton.


One principle/value I’ve always believed is an essential part of any agile methodology – and really to any teamwork scenario – is the trust factor. When we look back at the original 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto we see in the fifth principle, “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” This goes to the core of what our purpose is when working with clients and candidates – we want to place people who will be motivated and are worthy of the trust that will be put in them to.


Spend some time in the “agile blogosphere” and you’ll hear about the importance of trust plenty. Any agile practitioner worth their salt, be they Scrum Master, a team member, or an agile coach consultant, will stress the importance of trust within the team. Rachel Davies knows all about this. She makes great reference to The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford. Brian Schmidt too believes trust to be a key value – and one that has been underemphasized at times. On his blog, he discusses factors that can hinder trust such as geographic separation, a difficult corporate hierarchy, and tight profit margins.


Venkatesh Krishnamurthy takes this trust principle in a different, but very valid, direction. He discusses the trust requirements to creating a work and payment contract based on continuous delivery, as well as the cooperation necessary from the client. While you are basing continued payments off delivered value, there is still a large element of trust from the client that your team will continue to deliver through the completion of the project.


Do you see trust as a make-or-break factor of an effective agile team? How, in your experience, has trust impacted the effectiveness of a workplace for better or worse?