Trust is a very basic ingredient in any restaurant: We expect good, nutritious food and drink and not to leave with food poisoning. Any good restaurant would see this as a precondition and if not, there are many rules and regulations in place which protect the guests and customers as well as the business.
In our highly diversified economies we trust brands and businesses and we are very suspicious of people who tell us to trust them. The loss of trust can be damaging to any business and especially small businesses.
A couple of years ago I worked on an innovation project with Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in Berlin (Prof.Dr. Martina Schraudner and Beate Seewald). The project was planned as an Internet start-up. I trusted the team and the management. Several months into the project, my contract was discontinued and I was asked to quit the project. I had to leave my concepts and ideas behind. Yes, it was all within the contractual arrangements and my consulting fees were paid as agreed. Yes, the legal fees were far to high to protect my ideas, if at all possible. Everything was closed in an orderly manner.
From an emotional and personal point of view however, the situation was profoundly devastating. The only way I could get this project started was by putting trust into the people I worked with and to share my ideas. I did not have the resources to do it on my own.
Sharing ideas is one of the key ingredients for innovation. Only an environment which has clear frameworks and in which ideas float freely, can be a fertile ground for innovation. When our trust is betrayed, we get upset, go very loud or very quiet and – we stop sharing. As a consequence ideas stay in peoples heads and can quickly turn into disappointment and frustration.
We all know that hundreds of ideas, concepts and products are copied every day. People, businesses and whole economies grow and become rich by copying – legally or illegally. In all the companies I worked for over the years were people who refused to share ideas, because they did or could not trust the management, an uncalculated loss to any business and our economies.