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The Fearless Organization Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2018-11-20
  • Publisher: Wiley

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Conquer the most essential adaptation to the knowledge economy

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth offers practical guidance for teams and organizations who are serious about success in the modern economy. With so much riding on innovation, creativity, and spark, it is essential to attract and retain quality talent—but what good does this talent do if no one is able to speak their mind? The traditional culture of "fitting in" and "going along" spells doom in the knowledge economy. Success requires a continuous influx of new ideas, new challenges, and critical thought, and the interpersonal climate must not suppress, silence, ridicule or intimidate. Not every idea is good, and yes there are stupid questions, and yes dissent can slow things down, but talking through these things is an essential part of the creative process. People must be allowed to voice half-finished thoughts, ask questions from left field, and brainstorm out loud; it creates a culture in which a minor flub or momentary lapse is no big deal, and where actual mistakes are owned and corrected, and where the next left-field idea could be the next big thing. 

This book explores this culture of psychological safety, and provides a blueprint for bringing it to life. The road is sometimes bumpy, but succinct and informative scenario-based explanations provide a clear path forward to constant learning and healthy innovation.

  • Explore the link between psychological safety and high performance
  • Create a culture where it’s “safe” to express ideas, ask questions, and admit mistakes
  • Nurture the level of engagement and candor required in today’s knowledge economy
  • Follow a step-by-step framework for establishing psychological safety in your team or organization

Shed the "yes-men" approach and step into real performance. Fertilize creativity, clarify goals, achieve accountability, redefine leadership, and much more. The Fearless Organization helps you bring about this most critical transformation.

Author Biography

AMY C. EDMONDSON is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. Edmondson, recognized by the biannual Thinkers 50 global ranking of management thinkers since 2011, teaches and writes on leadership, teams and organizational learning. Her articles have been published in Harvard Business Review and California Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, and the Academy of Management Journal. She is the author of Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy and Teaming to Innovate from Jossey-Bass.

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

What It Takes to Thrive in a Complex, Uncertain World xiii

Discovery by Mistake xvi

Overview of the Book xviii

Endnotes xxi

PART I The Power of Psychological Safety 1

Chapter 1 The Underpinning 3

Unconscious Calculators 4

Envisioning the Psychologically Safe Workplace 6

An Accidental Discovery 8

Standing on Giants’ Shoulders 12

Why Fear Is Not an Effective Motivator 13

What Psychological Safety Is Not 15

Measuring Psychological Safety 19

Psychological Safety Is Not Enough 21

Endnotes 22

Chapter 2 The Paper Trail 25

Not a Perk 26

The Research 29

An Epidemic of Silence 30

A Work Environment that Supports Learning 35

Why Psychological Safety Matters for Performance 39

Psychologically Safe Employees Are Engaged Employees 41

Psychological Safety as the Extra Ingredient 43

Bringing Research to Practice 45

Endnotes 46

PART II Psychological Safety at Work 51

Chapter 3 Avoidable Failure 53

Exacting Standards 54

Stretching the Stretch Goal 60

Fearing the Truth 63

Who Regulates the Regulators? 66

Avoiding Avoidable Failure 68

Adopting an Agile Approach to Strategy 70

Endnotes 72

Chapter 4 Dangerous Silence 77

Failing to Speak Up 78

What Was Not Said 79

Excessive Confidence in Authority 83

A Culture of Silence 86

Silence in the Noisy Age of Social Media 92

Endnotes 97

Chapter 5 The Fearless Workplace 103

Making Candor Real 104

Extreme Candor 109

Be a Don’t Knower 113

When Failure Works 116

Caring for Employees 119

Learning from Psychologically Safe Work Environments 123

Endnotes 124

Chapter 6 Safe and Sound 129

Use Your Words 130

One for All and All for One 135

Speaking Up for Worker Safety 138

Transparency by Whiteboard 142

Unleashing Talent 146

Endnotes 147

PART III Creating a Fearless Organization 151

Chapter 7 Making it Happen 153

The Leader’s Tool Kit 154

How to Set the Stage for Psychological Safety 158

How to Invite Participation So People Respond 167

How to Respond Productively to Voice – No Matter Its Quality 173

Leadership Self-Assessment 181

Endnotes 183

Chapter 8 What’s Next? 187

Continuous Renewal 187

Deliberative Decision-Making 189

Hearing the Sounds of Silence 191

When Humor Isn’t Funny 193

Psychological Safety FAQs 195

Tacking Upwind 208

Endnotes 209

Appendix: Variations in survey measures to Illustrate Robustness of Psychological Safety 213

Acknowledgments 217

About the Author 219

Index 221

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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