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  • Writer's pictureLolly Atherton

Trust In Me: An Exploration of Agile & The Concept Of Trust



This is a response to Marjan Venema’s essay Myths and Misconceptions About Trust, published in the collection, Best Agile Articles 2017 (edited by Michael de la Maza, CEC & Cherie Silas, CEC).


Trust is usually described as an abstract noun, a concept which exists beyond the physical but can be found represented through tokens or actions. It is often given freely, without thought, such as trusting a teacher to educate a child in their care.


Trust in itself, has many childlike qualities, a wholehearted belief in an idea or person. It is often almost immediately associated with the idea of taking flight in Peter Pan. However, as a person grows up, the idea of trust being fragile, nimble and glasslike comes into play, especially with romance and broken hearts. And yet, trust remains, as a concept, a rather unspoken part of relationships.


But, in reality, the concept of trust is everywhere; it’s just not always represented tangibly. You promise yourself to lovers with engagement jewellery or wedding rings, just as you provide a physical for of trust in the act of sharing items such as a house key. By giving a friend, or significant other a key to ones’ space, you are giving a physical demonstration of trust in them. After all, you wouldn’t allow access to your home to someone you thought could steal from you.

Then again, it is also universal and abstract; You trust your fellow drivers on the road not to rear-end your vehicle as you change lanes, just as trust is given to emergency services to do the right thing by people, put out the fires they’re called to, or to treat the injured that they are faced with on a hospital ward.


You also put trust in your colleagues. There’s a pre-existing expectation of those you work alongside that if they are in a role, they will fulfil it and pull their weight on group tasks at work. Nobody wants to have to pick up the work of someone falling behind, and yet, it isn’t uncommon to see. After all, you would rely on your fellow teammates to do the same if you were struggling.


Marjan Venema explores trust as a verb, an action, describing the growth of dependence and belief in another person, or a system that surrounds you. It can be nurtured in order to bloom, but it can easily wilt. It takes time to develop and, equally, often, takes time to wither away, too.


This is demonstrated in many forms of media, as well as in our personal lives. However, I find that the best way to explore this idea is to look at both the 1967 and 2016 adaptations of Disney’s The Jungle Book, the idea of trust is shown in form of being a dependable protector. The song itself for which this piece gets its name, explores the idea of being able to let your walls down in the company of another person, and feel at ease and safe in their company, Mowgli being enveloped in the constrictor’s embrace, of course, reflecting the negative implications of being too trusting in the wrong person.


But, despite having encountered Kaa, Mowgli still goes on in the story to embrace the company of others in the form of Baloo the bear, and to allow himself to forgive Bagheera the panther.


The idea of working in an agile workforce allows for work to be distributed among team members and allow for you to have the confidence in yourself and your colleagues to speak up if you do not feel something is working. Just as when in Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael and John declare they still cannot fly despite having faith, trust, and a happy thought in mind. Which is when Peter fixes the issue, realising his error, and providing the tools to get them in the sky; pixie dust.

It’s the same with the world outside of stories; would you call out the person who smashed your tail-lights at a red light? Of course you would!


Obviously, you wouldn’t necessarily be as heated in the workplace as you would if your car was damaged, but, you would be able to explain through any subsequent proceedings what occurred, and why what happened actually happened. Address the problem, have it rectified, receive your pay-out from the insurance company, go on with your life. Why can’t work be the same? Understand what has occurred, address any issues that have arisen, explore how best to overcome them, rectify any issues, repeat until you receive your own form of pay-out: the successful completion of your project.


Or, would you rather just carry on driving with your head down, tail lights shattered, and pray you aren’t fined?



Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com



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