In HOW we trust…
Today I had a privilege to listen to a keynote of my colleague, Karsten about “A day in a life of a firefighter”. Apart from Karsten’s impressive experience - years of military training, centuries of being a firefighter, farmer and software developer – he said something really inspiring today.
As a head of the team, he needs to decide what needs to be done within 30 seconds. It’s often about life or death of people in the burning object but also extremely risky for the firefighters themselves. He shared a risk matrix, how they prioritize the moves and how the temperature goes up – he used an example of a room on fire – from a room temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius to 800 degrees Celsius within 3 minutes. And he said, that at this temperature, everything in the room starts burning.
The crucial 12 minutes
Karsten shared the crucial 12 minutes, with a minimum and maximum time passing for each phase in minutes:
The fire starts.
Minimum 0.5 maximum 3.0:
The fire is detected. Temperature 20-75°C
Minimum 0.5 maximum 0.5:
The fire is reported. Temperature 30-120°C
Minimum 1.0 maximum 1.5:
The firefighters are called and informed. Temperature 50-200°C
Minimum 2.0 maximum 3.0:
The firefighters arrive at the station. Temperature 100-800°C
Minimum 1.0 maximum 3.0:
The firefighters arrive at the fire. Temperature 200-1000°C
Minimum 0.5 maximum 1.5:
The firefighters analyze the situation and decide. Temperature 800-1100°C
Maximum 7.0 left to rescue people alive.
The HOW again…
You may ask yourself: How is it possible to analyze the situation – remember it’s burning – and make decisions within 30-90 seconds?
Here is the trick, also used by modern armies and successful companies:
The base for everything are the shared values, the WHYs. Why do we do it?
First element is the matrix of risks and subjects exposed to them. It has a built-in prioritization scheme. The WHATs. What do we do? It is defined.
Second element are clear roles. Who does what? It is defined.
Third element is the HOW. How do we do this? This is left to those who do the work. It is based on TRUST.
Trust is the way to be extremely efficient and effective, to be super-fast in deciding and acting. However, it leads to chaos if the WHAT and the WHO are not clear. That means that, as a leader, you have to do your job first. You have to make sure that it is clear what you as an organization want to achieve, and who has to play which role. Only then you can use trust to empower your people to act and to decide how they do it.
I have seen cases, where a leader left it to the team what to do, who shall play which role and how they do it. It didn’t go well.
And I am sure that you know cases, where a leader hasn’t stopped controlling before the HOW but kept defining it and micromanaging the team. What a waste!
Mistrust compared to trust is inefficient even in writing as it needs more letters than trust. It is also very costly to maintain as it is kind of taxing your mind - you spend lots of time and energy to analyse, control, prepare for the worse, maintain different networks to prevent it, not to forget the constant fear of being cheated. That makes you ineffective because 30-40% of your energy is lost.
It’s the biggest waste humans or organizations produce. And this one you cannot even recycle…
May you have also experienced an outcome like that one: you and the other party were both satisfied and happy about a perfect result, a win-win success.
Trust is not an expense. It’s an investment.