Trust: Our Uncommon Views on Business Relationships
Published on: Apr 5, 2024

We recently started a new Ignition project with a huge industrial company in Europe. The kind of “huge” that would make you question reality: how on Earth could a small, family-owned business like Enuda land an Ignition project (and not even just one!) with such a company? 

This company invited a handful of Premier Ignition Integrators to offer proposals for the project. The shortlist became shorter, and it was down to Enuda and one other popular consultant. We were quite similar in price, the proposals were written well, and the ability to get the job done was demonstrated by both consultants. 

Yet, they chose us. Why? The feedback was that, in our many calls, we were just so willing to work with them, to adapt to whatever challenges they had, and to offer help to move the project forward, even though we hadn’t even won the project yet. 

When all else is the same, the criteria for the choice change

The internet is the world’s largest copy machine.

Kevin Kelly

Over time, the differences between actors on the same side of the market (e.g. Premier Ignition Integrators) start to get blurry. After having narrowed down the shortlist to two consultants, you may find yourself in a conundrum: they have similar prices, and their tech expertise is undoubted. How are you supposed to choose?

Prices, capacity, expertise in software, design, architecture… these are crucial factors that are a pre-condition to even considering a consultant. But all the good consultants satisfy them, so they become common and expected. Sometimes, cheaper. 

Trust makes your journey less stressful 

Digital transformation isn’t easy. Not only are you on a bumpy, unpredictable path of digitalising your production, but a sense of urgency also creeps in because of the fast changes in the market. You need help. Here’s why.

Increasing demands from customers and authorities

It’s genuinely hard to grasp how anyone can lack empathy for the responsible people in an industrial company who are supposed to keep up with everything that’s going on: new technology, better data, automated processes, faster deliveries… It’s overwhelming.

Moreover, in the words of the wise Kevin Kelly, companies are now forced to think less about saving themselves time and think more about saving their customers’ time. One of the main demands that become more and more prevalent is access to real-time data about… everything. Whether it’s a customer who wants to check how a product is made or an authority who wants to analyse your carbon footprint, you’re held accountable for providing the data now. 

To provide that kind of data in the way they demand, it’s not enough to add a piece of software to the stack—the very infrastructure of your company’s ecosystem has to change. 

Overwhelming amount of information to sort through

Information is at your fingertips. Long gone are the days when we could use the excuse of being unable to find an answer to a question. Today, somewhere on the internet, you will find an answer.

However, success is no longer about finding the right answers. It’s about asking the right questions. In a sea of information and possibilities, you’re looking for those who can find the right problems to solve and curate the information that will solve them. 

What are the right problems? Those that stem from the business needs, but are actioned on from the bottom up, starting with the plant floor. 

Consultants who work according to rules from the 20th century

As if the struggles of a digital transformation project and the accountability to several stakeholders weren’t enough, you’re also responsible for choosing a partner that claims to help you. Undoubtedly, there are competent companies to choose from. Some of them, with decades of experience in business. Others are younger, ambitious, and hungry. 

IT supplier demands

The key problems with a transaction-focused mindset: 

  • “Get it over with”. Every client interaction is similar to a one-off deal, not the start of an ongoing journey together. It’s all about what can be cashed in now for the business, sidelining the bigger picture of keeping clients happy and coming back for more. It’s a bit like focusing on the quick win rather than building a fan base that sticks around for the long haul.
  • “Grab the low-hanging fruit”. Back in the day, it was more about the sprint than the marathon. Imagine choosing projects that could quickly fill the books over those that needed a bit of nurturing but promised a bigger payoff down the road. This “get rich quick” attitude wasn’t exactly friends with forward-thinking moves like building solid, long-lasting relationships with clients. 

This approach really had its moment. Things were a bit slower in the 20th century, so companies could lean on tried-and-true methods and older tech for a lot longer. The marketplace wasn’t as packed, and folks generally had simpler expectations—good prices and decent quality were enough to keep them satisfied. Innovation and tailor-made services? Those were nice to have, but not the deal-breakers they can be today. 

Kevin Kelly explains how value changes in his book, “The Inevitable”: clients’ expectations change because, over time, replicable things like price matter less, and things like knowledge become commodified. Think of electricity. Back in the day, only the rich had it, and the poor were stuck getting by with candles. Today, electricity is a given. When accessibility increases, the (perceived) value decreases. Candles, however, are now a luxury—something you do for a special occasion, you put more thought and attention into it, and the warm and fuzzy feeling you get increases the value of the product. Similarly, now that you can easily find competent consultants/integrators, elements like trust and personalisation become a luxury.

What is trust?

Trust is letting yourself fall knowing that you will be caught. It’s like that exercise where someone stands behind you and you’re supposed to let go, to fall, and hope their arms will stop you from hurting yourself. Don’t overlook that word, “hope”. It’s the reason trust is so hard to earn. Even though you know someone is behind you and they’re supposedly ready to catch you, you still open yourself up to risk. You could still fall. 

What you know and can control is that you put in the time and effort to do a project with a consultant. What you don’t know and can’t control is that you get results in return. Or, even worse, you find yourself at the end of the line with the realisation that you wasted all of that on a supplier that can’t even deliver on what was promised, let alone generate tangible results. It’s not a fair deal, but a risky one. Human beings would like to avoid that, and rightfully so. 

The elements of trust

Harvard Business School Professor Sandra Sucher uses a framework to describe what builds (or destroys) trust: 

Fundamentally, people’s trust in an organization is based on their assessment of four related elements: competence, motives, means, and impact. They form the foundation of my framework for organizational trust. At the most basic level is competence: People need to trust that the organization can deliver products and services. Motives refer to whose interests the company serves, and means refers to how fairly they treat others. Lastly, impact relates to whether the organization takes responsibility for the ways its actions affect people’s lives.


This is non-negotiable. We can’t even begin talking about a change in criteria unless competence has been proven. 

Competence starts from the first interaction you have with a consultant and is consistently tested throughout the relationship. The consultant must be able to explain Ignition and its use in a digital transformation project tailored to YOUR situation to several stakeholders with different levels of understanding. Moreover, they must pay close attention to the development of the project, and recommend the optimal course of action at every stage—sometimes, the stage has nothing to do with the tech, but everything to do with managing the changes that result from it and the impact on the business side of things. Other times, it has to do with challenging assumptions and disagreeing with the buyer’s team. All of it should be done with an empathetic attitude, and the intent should be to do what’s best for the client, not to satisfy the ego by being right. 

Any consultant who doesn’t get involved in these activities makes your life harder by either letting you deal with it alone or forcing you to find yet another consultant to help you.


It’s all about what interests you’re serving, as Professor Sucher says. Some companies think like “the immediate sale is key” or “the business transaction should be quick and well-structured” or “follow the procedures to a T”. These are not particularly incorrect premises to have (although Enuda does not subscribe to them), but they change the behaviours of the business actors. Starting with “I’ll do what’s best for my company” will look entirely different from starting with “I’ll do what’s best for my client”


Insofar as competence is proven, the consultant’s values are crucial for building trust. The most knowledgeable person won’t be able to make up for being rude, shady, and overall a nightmare to work with—for the buyer’s team AND their own.  

That the way the supplier treats the buyer’s team can be a deal-breaker is a no-brainer. However, we tend to miss an important point here, one that matters more than we may think: the way the supplier treats their own team is key. 

The traditional business model, rooted in industrial-era principles of maximising output while minimising costs, is increasingly obsolete, but still very much present. This model treated employees as expendable resources, leading to a work environment characterised by burnout. It’s not rare that consultancy companies have a 110% billability—meaning, they offer clients 110% of the employee’s time. Where’s the creativity? Where’s the time for researching, testing, and learning? 


In a digital transformation project, success should be measured by changing behaviours within your organisation—behaviours that lead to more productivity, smarter decisions, happier customers, adaptability to regulations etc. Fundamentally, success means making people’s lives easier by removing tedious, manual tasks and allowing them to engage in more behaviours that move them forward. 

You’re responsible for that, and your consultant is responsible for you and your success. Most of the time, that means keeping promises, solving the right problems, guiding you etc. Sometimes, however, it means admitting and taking responsibility for one’s mistakes. Things won’t go perfectly all the time, so you want a partner who can be honest with you about the bad just as much as they are about the good.

Enuda: a business model built on trust 

Trust is built over time, and it’s the subtle ingredient that makes the daily meals so dang satisfying. It’s the value embedded into everything we do, and it shows up in other clothes as well: reliability (“it’s ok, we’ll figure it out”), predictability (“we delivered as promised”), flexibility (“yeah, we can make that work”)

We’re incredibly aware that the trust factor increases (or decreases) from the first interaction with us. Whether we get the project or not, we’re guided by this value, and the day we can no longer do that is the day we close down the business. 

It all starts with the internal team. Period.

As we said above: working with a burnt-out, unsupported professional will be entirely different from working with an empowered, motivated one. 

We have clients coming to us, sure, but none of it will matter if the team isn’t trustful and trustworthy, competent, and well-supported to satisfy the client’s needs over and over again. The team members, especially the “front liners”, meaning the client-facing ones, are making things happen—we have to empower them to do it. 

We are trustful that you will hold your end of the deal, and we will create the space, as much as it is within our control, for you to do that. If things change, we’re flexible. If you need help, we try to help. If it doesn’t work, we learn something. As long as you’re genuinely living within our shared values—accountability, kindness, professionalism, and honesty—we’re aiming for a win-win relationship. 

These are ideas we gathered from the business, economics, and behavioural worlds. Over time, they compounded into a belief: short-term profit is less beneficial business-wise than long-term relationships. A commitment to create and nurture relationships is what makes a profitable and sustainable business. And, to be honest, it’s just more fun—life’s simply too short for anything less than that. 

Our principles decide our actions

Here in Enuda, we think in principles as much as possible. Digital transformation projects carry so many unknowns, especially at the beginning. We simply cannot predict how a project is going to go at every step. However, we know what is going to guide our decisions, no matter what the circumstances of a situation look like. 

No lock-in for the client.

Nobody likes to be locked into anything—you should have the liberty, at any point in time, to cut us out, no questions asked. Enuda, on the other side, is coming from a different angle: we’re aware that you have this freedom, yet we go into the relationship with the commitment of seeing it through. While you might be optimising for freedom (as you should) from us, we’re optimising for commitment for you. 

Promise only what you can deliver, and deliver as promised.

Many people promise anything and everything. Sometimes, it comes from an innocent place (people pleasers know what I’m talking about). Other times, unfortunately, it comes from the usual run from profit—they’ll do anything to make an extra buck. 

To be honest, we lost some business because of this principle. For example, some potential projects tempted us to resist our Ignition-only business model (e.g. use other solutions) or our place in the value chain (e.g. do PLC work). We don’t do any of that, so we refused. 

The client should be the success story.

Look, everyone says that. We can’t prove this to you in an article. If we did or did not do this principle justice in our relationship with our clients, it’s their place to say. And they will say it, especially to each other. You can be sure that if the word in the market is that Enuda isn’t looking out for the client’s best interest, we will no longer be around—not only because we don’t want to run a business like that, but also because companies will no longer choose us.

In line with the section above about focusing on the transaction vs. the relationship, we believe behaviours change if one thinks short-term or long-term. When one thinks short-term, one isn’t invested in the relationship, thus is looking for sharp, impersonal, straightforward exchanges. Think about it as a new hire: if it’s temporary, one doesn’t put a lot of effort into getting to know them, and one may even treat them poorly because one knows one won’t get any benefits from them soon. If the new hire is bound to be around for years, though, things change. We’d like you to be around for as long as possible. 

Additionally, we’re practical and use-case-driven people. A success story is one that’s approached with a healthy dose of pragmatism and professionalism. Our mantra is “start small”, and we tackle projects by solving one specific problem (use-case) at a time. 

Flexibility is key.

“Flexibility alone is not a great strategy, but the lack of it can ruin one.”

James Clear

This is one of the most popular topics our clients keep talking to us about. For us, flexibility started as a way to build an organisation that wasn’t riddled with rigid procedures and rules that would hinder creativity, autonomy, and curiosity. It has always been at the core of our work, but, over time, it developed into something of an incredible competitive advantage in our clients’ eyes. 

It’s a breath of fresh air, a nice change from the usual constraints coming from bigger consultancy companies or consultants. We don’t blame them—a bigger company needs standardised procedures to work properly.

Be kind.

Somewhere down the line, words like “kindness” became such a woo-woo cliche that talking about it in business seems too “emotional” or hippie. Weak, even. Whatever happened to the world of business that we became so cold, so “rational”, so averse to elements of humanity? Or rather, what happened to us that we don’t see that these very elements are pulling the strings? They always have been, we just got smarter about denying them. 

Life is hard enough anyway without the added stress of digital transformation projects that are full of uncertainties. We’re all just trying to get through the day, have something to eat, and go home without being completely drained. To think that a consultant may do something to make that even harder, for the client AND themselves, is just disappointing. 

Final thoughts

People like to work with people. For us, business is personal. Sure, we’re ultimately in a mutually advantageous transaction from a material and business point of view, but the additional value we provide relates to the human aspect. We simply strip off the performative behavioural layers too often found in business relationships, the masks that hide a sneaky self-interest. And we show up with authenticity, honesty, curiosity, and an openness to make things work. 

We’re just human beings trying to make sense of it all—professional engineers and project managers for a few hours, then dads, grandmothers, spouses, and friends for the remaining part of the day. We behave according to the context, but we never forget either part of ourselves—they are integrated into the entirety of our human experience, and that’s the reason we stand out from the crowd in an increasingly impersonal world of business. 

Enuda and clients

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