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Welcome to TRUSTGiving 2014, our first annual weeklong trust awareness campaign.  Join the Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts as our members help our readers navigate the complexities of trust. We will be blogging (several times a day) and posting on Twitter #TrustGiving2014.

Deb Mills-Scofield provides some insight on the intersection of trust and risk taking.

Taking risk requires trust – to discover, try, re-try, be okay with uncertainty, imperfection and even fail.  That’s why learning how to inexpensively and quickly Experiment-Learn-Apply-Iterate is critical to building trust.

Experiment: Identify a market, customer segment or business model that needs shaking up.  Start with the market/customer needs first, not the solution, the product or service.  I call this “Rushing to Discover, Not to Solve.” Create a cross-functional team with air cover so they are free to try things.  Create some prototypes of potential solutions after you’ve discovered!

Learn:  Watch how your customers respond to your prototype.  Remember, this is still an experiment and you’re still testing hypotheses. Watch them use it, touch it, interact with it. Watch how they respond to what it does/doesn’t do, where their eyes go first, where they seem stumped or frustrated, where they seem excited.  Ask questions to clarify and understand, not to advise or judge.

Apply:  Take this learning and change your potential solutions, prototypes, accordingly.  You will be wrong about a lot! Go back to your customers with the changed prototypes and test again.  The purpose is to test your hypotheses so you can create a solution that really meets your customers needs, not your needs.

Iterate:  Repeat Experiment-Learn-Apply until you create a meaningful, valuable solution for your customers or determine you can’t. 

The ELAI model is pretty straightforward.  Don’t overcomplicate it.  Get out and do it! You’ll be surprised at the level of trust and know-how you create!

Deborah Mills-Scofield has her own consultancy on innovation and strategy & is a partner in a Venture Capital firm.  Deb writes for Harvard Business Review, Switch and Shift & other venues, including her blog, & has contributed to several books. Her Bell Labs patent was one of AT&T & Lucent’s highest-revenue generating patents.  She can be reached at @dscofield or dms@mills-scofield.com.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

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