The Trust Equation

Trust forms the basis of human interactions and is surely something we want in our relationships (to be successful and to have a rewarding life we must trust others). It has also been found to be a predictor of a country’s wealth; countries with low levels of trust tend to be poor.

The above statement led me to investigate trust in more detail and develop the great work by Maister, Green and Galford

Maister et al codified trust into an equation….

trust equation


Trust is vital to how we do business and as already stated is a massive determinant of success.

The challenge, up until I learned the above framework, is how to structure the elements that make up Trust.

The Model

Maister et al’s  Trust equation model has 4 variables; Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Orientation.

The ultimate sum of these elements equals your Trustworthiness, or as they call it, your Trust Quota (think of your Trust Quota in a similar vein to your IQ).

The variables are:

Credibility – linked with the words we speak “I can trust X as he’s very credible on Y subject.”

Reliability – Linked with actions “She told me Z would be delivered by tomorrow, I trust her due to past deeds, hence I know it will be delivered on time”

Intimacy – Linked with the personal relationship we have with the individual “I trust him with that information as they have never embarrassed me before or violated my confidentiality”

Self-Orientation – Linked with the person’s focus. Basically is it all about ‘them’ or the ‘we’ or the ‘I’ !? “I don’t trust her on this deal as it’s all about what she gets out of it”

Summary to the Maister et al Trust Equation: Trust in business is vital and good “scores” on all four variables in the Trust Equation are required to gain a high Trust Quota. Naturally aim for high credibility, reliability and intimacy, and low self-orientation and you should enjoy long lasting relationships.


After more work I have extended the equation to include an emphasis on ’emotion’ and ‘seeing is believing’…

trust equation updated overview


trust equation updated extended

More on this in a future post :-)

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