Building trust

Working together with a person and a team, goes much better when trust is higher.
The agile manifesto says it prefers teams that are physically together .

And for a long time I was convinced that for creating a great team, you had to put the people together. Yet gradually I saw (and worked with) great teams that were not physically together.

It took me a while to realise that what was really needed was trust. And yes the easiest and most know way to build trust, is being physically together all the time.

So let me be very clear, I am in no way advocating to be less physically together.

Yet in this global world, sometimes the best people to work with (best in every possible way) are living in another continent. And then, we have to look at different ways to create trust.

I that sense agile teams can learn a lot from open source teams. Most open source teams work in a distributed way. From what I understand, some (even among the best OS teams) have never met.

The last years I created a few community projects, while not all have been huge successes , I think it’s fair to say that most collaborations worked well and in some we even had huge trust.


The strange part (for me) is that I don’t consider all these collaborations work of a team. That is, for some projects, people never really work together, they all work independently. For me that is one of the necessary aspects of distributed work: split the work in small independent pieces.


In all cases there was high trust in the core team. And for me, I considered my main task in building trust between me and the core team members.

Would that work be easier when people are in the same room?


And haven’t you met the full core team personally yourself?
In most cases yes. yet not always.

The details of the how will be for another post, yet my core aspect in it, is I start by trusting them by default. If I consider I want to work with someone, I need to trust them. And I ask them what they want to do.

But Yves what if they are not trust worthy ? Well their work will tell me.

Yes I had people who promised me a lot, and delivered nothing (or close to nothing). Yet that was clear very fast. And the more a person delivered, the bigger the trust that build in the team.
What about arguments?

Well people who I have never met, will indeed faster think that discussions means lack of trust. For me it’s even the opposite. People I don’t trust, I don’t even argue with them. I stop working with them. There are smarter ways then discussion and arguments, yet every team needs techniques to deal with multiple opinions.


These days we have a lot of technical tools that help to enhance communication.

It’s important to realise that we also have trust building tools like:


Once you know how to create a team using trust, you can think about distribution or scaling. If you haven’t figured out to build a team with trust, colocation will only help partially…