They're three of the best words anybody can put together, whether they're spoken out loud or not. "I believe you."
In our business, too, where, quite normally, it takes a village of manufacturers, distributors, land sellers, land buyers, developers, local agencies and officials, inspectors, laborers, designers and/or architects, supervisors, marketers, sales people, accountants, to bring one residence into the pipeline we call new home supply. How many people's word does it take to build a house? A lot.
"I believe you." The motivation behind saying it; the reason it can be said or understood with confidence; the pay-it-forward meaning it supplies to us who want to be worthy of those words again, and again, and again.
Stephen M. R. Covey and Douglas R. Conant write here that, "that most organizational performance issues are actually trust issues in disguise."
We'd venture to add that most inter-organizational performance issues are trust issues as well. Here's what they note as the effect of the "virus" of low trust in an organization:
"The symptoms are wide-ranging dysfunction, redundancy, turnover, bureaucracy, disengagement, and fraud."
You see, the words, "I don't believe you" are powerful ones too. When those words apply, there are far fewer options, alternatives, and ideas to pursue, because those words narrow us down to reactiveness, fear. When one can say and mean, "I believe you," the unbelievable can be trusted to be so; the unthinkable can be dealt with. Whereas, when the inverse is the case--"I don't believe you"--what may come across as plainly plausible, even supported by evidence, loses credence. "I believe you" treads between fact and theory, real events and fiction. It holds, delicately, truth.
We've been reading a lot about disruptive innovation lately--the kind that can make long-successful companies fail, even as they execute at a high-level, and stay in close touch with their core customers.
The turf Joshua Gans explores in "The Disruption Dilemma" is not just what disruptive innovation is, but how incumbent, established players in a business sector can stay sustainably successful by learning to integrate innovation into their ways of doing their business, bringing their products online and to market, structuring their basic processes, from supply chains to the handing over of a title and keys of ownership in ways that can improve the product or introduce a new one, and do it profitably and to the delight of the consumer.
To manage disruptive innovation--whether it comes in its "demand-driven" form or its "supply-driven" mode--it turns out that good smart talented people are the only prevention and the only potential cure for an established "incumbent" company to stay relevant and successful when innovations--3D printing, robotics, off-site processes, etc.--cause a "discontinuity." That's when the way of doing things for a long time suddenly becomes "the old way."
Many people we talk to expect that, as much as home building is a highly localized business and one whose outcome--a house--is basically what it's been for scores of years, the business model of home building is susceptible to disruption. That's why it's critical to be able to utter, or infer, or understand those three words among ones or one we depend on as a "brain trust."
Especially now, in a moment when rancor, insidious suspicion, and coarse hostility appear to gain currency with each hour's news cycle, it's important and it's heartening we can turn to many souls in an everyday, run-of-the-mill work day in the life and say, "I believe you."