The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies


Discover the formula for engagement.

For decades, alarms have sounded about declining engagement. Yet companies continue to struggle with toxic cultures, and the low productivity and unhappiness that go with them.

Why is "culture" so difficult to improve? What makes so many good employees check out? Neuroscientist Paul Zak shows that innate brain functions hold the answers. It all boils down to trust.

When someone shows you trust, a feel-good jolt of oxytocin surges through your brain and triggers you to reciprocate. This simple mechanism creates a perpetual trust-building cycle--the key to changing stubborn workplace patterns. Drawing on his original research, Zak teases out science-backed insights for building high-trust organizations. Trust Factor opens a window on how brain chemicals affect behavior, why trust gets squashed, and ways to consciously stimulate it by celebrating effort, sharing information, promoting ownership, and more. The Ofactor(tm) survey, data, and examples support the action plans.

Engagement programs and monetary rewards are Band-Aids on broken bones. To get to the root of the problem, you've got to go deeper. Packed with examples from The Container Store, Zappos, and Herman Miller, Trust Factor harnesses our neurochemistry to effectively cultivate work places where trust, joy, and commitment compound naturally.


Arriving in Malke, a remote village of 1,000 people in Papua New Guinea, I had only three days to run the first-ever organizational culture experiment in a rain forest, so I had to get my equipment working. While experiments I ran in my laboratory and in companies in the United States had shown that a culture of trust generates high performance, testing members of an isolated tribe would help me determine if trust improves performance everywhere. Adding to the pressure of doing neuroscience in the rain forest, nhk tv from Japan would be filming the experiment.

Naturally, the experiment gods had other ideas.

Malke has no electricity or running water, so I brought all the supplies I would need: a suitcase full of sterile needles, bloodcollection tubes, latex gloves, and a small centrifuge—items that shocked New Guinean customs agents despite my government permit. Waiting for me in the capital, Port Moresby, was a rented generator to run the centrifuge and liquid nitrogen flown in from Japan that I needed to freeze blood samples so I could get them back to my California lab.

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