Organizational Trust vs “Only the Paranoid Survive”

Organizational life may be punctuated by social uncertainty, leading to mistrust.

Andy Grove

Andy Grove

In fact, Intel’s Chairman, Andy Grove explained his success in guiding the company through a critical flaw in its Pentium chip, which threatened Intel’s brand value, noting “Only the Paranoid Survive.

Christel Lane

Christel Lane

However, organizational paranoia’s counterpoint, trust, has many positive correlates, including productivity, creative problem-solving, employee commitment and retention, remarked University of Cambridge’s Christel Lane and Reinhardt Bachman of University of Surrey.

Reinhard Bachmann

Reinhard Bachmann

Likewise, Alan Fox catalogued negative consequences of suspicion in work settings.
Stanford’s Roderick Kramer offered both support and caveats to Grove’s pro-paranoia mantra by noting that people in organizations often misconstrue and overweight suspicions, leading to low collaboration and isolation at work.

Roderick Kramer

Roderick Kramer

He noted that people with fewer resources or less power may engage in self-protective behaviors, accompanied by increased hyper vigilance, consistent with findings by Princeton’s Susan Fiske.

Susan Fiske

Susan Fiske

These strategies increase the possibility of “paranoid social cognition”, and may lead people to engage in:

Ted Goertzel

Ted Goertzel

To balance “prudent paranoia” with organizational trust, Kramer recommends that people in organizations “relentlessly” seek and consider alternate interpretations from people likely to hold different views, while skeptically considering “reality as an hypothesis.”

-*How do you find a balance between organizational trust and “prudent paranoia”?

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