By Russ Levanway, President

I recently read a story in the local newspaper in which a claim was filed for wrongful termination by someone who worked at my daughters’ school. The news sure did not look good for the school: bad press, bad publicity.

My initial reaction, though, wasn’t to assume the claim was true; The word “allegedly” came to mind. I thought I really like this school. Historically the administration has been trustworthy. They’ve always had my daughters’ best interest in mind, and I feel like they try to do the right thing.

Could I be wrong in that assumption? Sure, but until the verdict drops, I’m presuming innocence. Why? What is my pattern of thought that leads to presumed innocence, when someone else’s might lead to presumed guilt? The answer is trust, and the track record that leads to it.

Trust and the bottom line

In a nutshell, trust is the result of a series of decisions and moments that were impactful enough to build a foundation. Where there is a good, strong history of doing right, there is trust. And where there is trust, there is also productivity.

At CIO Solutions, internally, we believe that high levels of trust between departments and individuals results in efficiency and contributes even more to it than systems, processes, and tools. Think about it like this: When someone does what they need to do and hands it off to a coworker, there needs to be trust that the project will continue to be carried forward. Without trust, the first person might second-guess, constantly check in, or even try to take over their colleague’s work, creating additional work for themselves and others. And they may be justified in doing so, if there has been a pattern that created the lack of trust in the first place.  There’s a penalty that comes with lack of trust, and it takes its toll on a company and on its clients.

That’s not to say that checks and balances aren’t necessary: They are. Operational systems and processes help things run smoothly and to catch mistakes, but they don’t work very well to insulate people against untrustworthiness and the penalty that comes with it – nothing really does. Trust isn’t about perfection; It’s about intent. Checks and balances just help ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

In our business, we’ve found that both trusting and trustworthy clients are the easiest to work with. I believe that the most important thing in helping us do our jobs well, internally or with a client, isn’t a system, technology, know-how, process or rules, but rather a relational foundation of trust. Without that, everything becomes more tedious, harder, slower.

Intention, not perfection

We know we’re not perfect. We’ll make mistakes, and we’ll do things that undermine trust, unintentionally. Mistakes and errors can and do happen. But what we hope and strive for is that we’re constantly building that foundation of trust, for the betterment of our clients’ business, our business, and everyone’s quality of life.  What can we do to build trust even more?  In your organization, what can you do?  This is a worthwhile question to ponder.


Russ Levanway, President// Russ is a sought-after public speaker, technology expert, and community leader. As the president of an ever-growing managed services provider with offices in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Fresno, Russ’s goal is to sustain and grow an IT company that provides incredible value for clients, and a great workplace for his team. When he’s not collaborating to chart out the future of CIO Solutions, Russ serves on several non-profit boards, volunteers at the People’s Kitchen and travels the world with his wife and two daughters.