The Trust Spectrum

This is a short form of "The Trust Spectrum" - which is a great read and highly recommended.

The essence is captured in this image:


The key ingredients to consider are:

  • Parallell play

  • Asymmetry:

    • Roles

    • Classes

  • Resource allocation


Parallel play means the degree to which actors can play without dependencies, ranging from "completly" to "not at all".

Asymmetry means "how different are the teammates from one another?" also a scale from "completly to "not at all", and subsumes two ways this can happen:

  • A role means “how many strategic objectives or ways to play are there?” This is a scale from one to many.

  • A class means “how are the verbs allocated across the team?” This is a scale from everyone sharing verbs in common to nobody sharing verbs in common.

Resource pool sharing means “how are team resources allocated?” and might range from “independent” to “completely shared.”


How we mix these ingredients up determins where we land on the trust spectrum. Arguably in relation to cultural/organisational design, you would wish to start in a place where dependencies and trust requirements are minimised and then build outwards from there.

This would imply lots of parallel play, few roles, no classes and even distribution of resources. Given the risk factor of this stage, lean startup would make sense in relation to resource allocation - nobody gets much.

As people get to know eachother, deepen relationships and start to rely on eachother - roles begin to make sense, ideally self selected. Maybe even a few classes and so on.


Heres a handy comparison chart - ideally a "game" or organisation would be multispectrum. Happy cooking!