Ask Martha


June 14, 2019


Stands for trust but verify.

Where did this originate? Ronald Reagan is credited with saying it during his presidency.  Actually, it was Suzanne Massie, an American writer, who coached President Reagan on Russian proverbs, specifically Doveryai, no proveryai which translates to “trust, but verify.”  

Ms. Massie shared with Ronald Reagan the Russians related to proverbs and that when he was working with Mr. Gorbachev, that this style of speaking could have tremendous impact.   Doveryai, no proveryai  translates to trust, but verify.  We all know the power of those words on the relationship with Mr. Gorbachev and Russia and the amazing work that was done between the two countries as they worked on improving the relations.

So, I bet you are wondering, why this saying from the 80’s is so important and impactful on operations management.  World politics and the cold war ending has NOTHING to do with factories… but, you see, I think that it really does.

Hear me out please…

In our operations, trust but verify is very similar, to the original intent of the famous speech.  I trust you, but know that I am going to check up on you as well.  This is powerful, this ‘auditing’ function, if you will,  lets associates, leaders, teams, know that there is trust, but someone is checking to make sure the work, action, is being performed or completed correctly.  As businesses get busier and more fast paced, it can be easier and more expeditious to take someone’s word for something, than to double check. 

This sounds a bit like a paradox, right? 

I do trust you, but I am checking up on you…but there is a crucial lesson here.  See, when people don’t see you, or their supervisor or leaders, it may seem like no one is checking in on them, that what they do doesn’t matter, that that special procedure that is so important to a quality parameter, could be short cut and no one ever know, because no one ever checks, I am sure that you think that can’t possibly happen, but it does and when it happens it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, potential recalls, it’s ugly, written in ALL CAPS.   

I trust you, but I will verify… it helps us all stay on our toes, be ever vigilant and be professional and excellent in how we get our work done, at all levels of the organization.  Our folks need to know that we are checking, that what they do is critically important.  T.B.V.  It’s like an insurance policy.