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Trust-Driven Development: Building Cognitive and Emotional Pillars

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Trust-driven development uses authenticity to build a safe environment for people to operate. To build trust we need to focus on two main pillars of trust – cognitive and emotional. We need to be brave, have courage, and give people access to our authentic selves.

Tomasz Manugiewicz will speak about how building trust impacts software development effectiveness at ACE conference 2022 on 19-20th of May.

Trust-driven development focuses on the environment in which humans operate the best. According to Manugiewicz, it’s a safe environment with trust established between people:

There is a main enabler for the process of establishing trust - it is authenticity. Being authentic in what we say, being authentic in what we do, and being authentic in what we deliver. It means sometimes saying no and not over promising. When people observe that we are authentic, they will feel safe working with us and they will start to trust us.

Manugiewicz argued that to build trust we need to focus on two pillars: the cognitive aspect and the emotional aspect.

When we build a cognitive pillar, we give people a chance to trust us as engineers, trust in our skills and experiences that we will deliver what we have promised.

Building an emotional pillar with other people means that they can trust us as a human being.

According to Manugiewicz, building trust between these teams can break the silos and accelerate the delivery of our products, and it can influence creativity.

InfoQ interviewed Tomasz Manugiewicz about trust-driven development.

InfoQ: How did you come up with trust-driven development?

Tomasz Manugiewicz: This is a new way of looking at the software development process. We have a lot of acronyms like BDD, TDD, DDD, etc. They are great concepts, but most of them are referring to technical methods of developing software. But we need to remember that the software is produced by humans.

InfoQ: How important is trust in software development?

Manugiewicz: Software development is a process which needs creativity and productivity. And for these two aspects to appear, people need to feel secure. They need to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts, i.e. during the retrospection of their own work, as well as to come up with new ideas. All these points are catalysts for inventing new products.

InfoQ: What can be done to build trust?

Manugiewicz: There are certain aspects of the two pillars, the cognitive aspect and the emotional aspect, that I will be talking about during my presentation.

When it comes to the cognitive aspect, this is about our knowledge, our skills, our experiences. We use all that to deliver tangible results. Others see our deliverables and can start trusting that we are reliable.

The other aspect is more emotional. This is about the attitude we have and the feelings we bring about in others. If people see we do what we say, if our actions follow our words, they can feel safe with us. Thanks to this, trust is established between us.

I want to emphasize that in order to build trust, we need to be brave. In order to be perceived as a trustworthy person, we need to give people access to our authentic self. And this attitude needs courage. It means showing up as we are. For me, it also means admitting when I don’t know something. It was not easy for me at the beginning, but when I started working as an engineering manager it turned out that I was spending much less time coding than my team was. I had to acknowledge that- it wasn’t an easy task. Now I do what I am good at and I let others do what they do the best.

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