The Italians have a proverb,  “fidarsi è bene, non fidarsi è meglio”. Translated to ‘trusting is good, not trusting is better’. But for those attending the Prince Mahidol Award Conference in Bangkok , trust was seen as key to effective cross-sectoral solutions. Fundamental to unite against infectious diseases.

Trust. It is nebulous, subjective, individual, situational, contextual, relational, cultural and multi-dimensional.

However, we know it when we feel it.

As one speaker said “some words are more useful when less defined, like trust, faith and One Health”.

However for an audience consisting mainly of scientists, they were keen to have something more definable. And as a panel contributor, I offered them the trust equation created by Maister, Green and Galford as a perspective.  It was developed as a formula for building sustained partnerships with others in a business advisor role.  And it may also apply to our leadership, organisations and personal lives.

It goes likes this.  Trust = C+R+I/SI

Trust = credibility + reliability+intimacy divided by self-interest.


  • Credibility: is in our words and is revealed in our credentials and honesty.  Can I believe what you say?
  • Reliability:  relates to our actions and is revealed by keeping our promises and commitments. Can I depend on your actions and your word?
  • Intimacy:  relates to our emotions and is revealed in our relationships and communication.  Can I feel secure and safe sharing with you?
  • Self Interest:  relates to our caring and is revealed in our focus.  How much are you operating from your own ‘agenda’ or ‘self-focus’?

Consciously or subconsciously we all have our own ‘trust formula’.

How does this fit with yours?’


  • Prince Mahidol Award Conference,  “A world united against infectious diseases: cross-sectoral solutions”, 28Feb – 2 Feb 2013, Bangkok Thailand  Thank you for the invitation to be involved.
  • Maister, D.H, Green, C.H, Galford, R.M (2000), The Trusted Advisor, Touchstone, NY
  • Original blog posting (Feb 2013)
  • Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash


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