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

| Author : Amy C. Edmondson, 2019

What’s It All About?

Workplace culture is a hot topic for corporations and businesses across North America! Thanks to social media heightening awareness around culture-related topics, more and more companies are now seeing the connection between their culture and their bottom line. This is especially true in manufacturing, where there is an ongoing struggle with finding talent, achieving continuous improvement, and creating innovative ways to grow and thrive.

If you’re serious about improving your culture and finding success, Amy C. Edmonson has written the guide for you and your organization in The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth. But before you dive in, know that the lessons in her book take courage! Edmonson highlights how leaders need to let go of their own thoughts, control, and ego. To get readers to this fearless state, Edmonson offers practical methods for creating the ultimate organization where great ideas are surfaced and executed for the best results.

Her book also focuses on the importance of creating psychological safety, or a workplace where everyone can express their opinions and ideas. When a workplace has psychological safety, it leads to a creative process where ideas are freely shared, one idea leads to the next, and groundbreaking solutions can occur.

One of my favorite tips from Edmonson’s book was the impact of adding more inquiries into our work. When someone has a different opinion, ask questions like:

  • What leads you to think so?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What might we be missing?
  • What other ideas could we generate?
  • Who has a different perspective?

Don’t assume that others will speak up and share their thoughts... because you know what happens when we assume

Favorite Quote

“Finding out that you are wrong is even more valuable than being right, because you are learning.”

Biggest Takeaway

As a leader, you don’t always have to be a superhuman. It’s okay to make mistakes, not have the answers, or perform below your optimal levels. Even leaders can have fears and make mistakes! According to The Fearless Organization, your ability to lead comes down to confidence. If your team loses confidence in you, you can lose your ability—and right—to successfully lead them. But if you’re humble, engaged, and willing to take action on your own behavior, you show accountability and that you’re a leader who can be believed in, even if you make mistakes.

Bonus information

Reading Edmonson’s book got me thinking about the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, “Dieselgate.” When Volkswagen workers were told to improve emissions reports or lose their jobs, they ended up falsifying their emissions information. It’s a perfect example of the consequences of a psychologically unsafe workplace. Because Volkswagen’s employees were pressured and threatened, they didn’t feel like they could speak up about their concerns or ask for help, and it ended up sparking a worldwide scandal that affected thousands of vehicles.

Reviewed by: Trevor Blondeel,  December 19, 2022

At Manufacturing Greatness, Trevor Blondeel works with manufacturers to connect the top to the shop floor. If you’re ready to improve your own organization, contact Trevor to learn how Manufacturing Greatness can help you build stronger leaders and develop a dynamic, high-performing workplace.