I was flipping through movies on a mindless Saturday night and stopped at the classic comedy hit Meet the Fockers, featuring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro. For those that missed it (or the hundreds of times it appeared on cable since its release), family bonding goes incredibly haywire when Stiller’s character, Greg Focker, meets the parents of his fiancé.
Greg is in a no-win game with Jack Byrnes, a retired CIA operative and the father of Greg’s fiancé, Pam. The situation devolves into comic absurdity as Greg tries to prove he is worthy of becoming a member of the Byrnes’ family “Circle of Trust.”
Here’s a short YouTube compilation about Jack’s Circle of Trust:
You can see that Jack’s version of trust and what it entails is so skewed and impossible to fathom that Greg has to spend nearly the entire movie trying to meet Jack’s impossible standards, not to mention figure out what he means by trust.
Actually, trust for Jack is all about Jack and his own foibles, remember he’s ex-CIA and his mindset is mainly rooted in maintaining security and control—by him. There can’t be any “chinks” in the chain of trust.
What’s good about all this is that Greg finally figures out that Jack does not have a patent on his particular, and erroneous, vision of trust.
What does this mean for business relationships? Well, for one thing trust is not a one-sided affair, and for another, it should not be defined or administered by one party at the expense of another. Trust is also not a fortress protected by a chain.
Maybe Greg and Jack needed to do a Compatibility and Trust Assessment! It’s certainly what businesses embarking on a strategic relationship should consider—but in the case of Meet the Fockers, a CaT would have removed all the comedic antics.