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The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth Hardcover – 28 Dec 2018
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From the Inside Flap
Written for leaders and teams, The Fearless Organization is a practical guide for creating cultures where knowledge and innovation flourish because people feel safe to contribute their ideas.
While many companies are investing in talent to compete in today's knowledge economy, the best talent is wasted if people are not able to speak up. The human instinct to "fit in" and "go along" works against the continuous flow of new ideas, new solutions, and critical thought necessary for companies to stay innovative. While not every idea will hit a home run, an organization's culture must not suppress, silence, ridicule or intimidate. Based on Amy Edmondson's 20 years of research, this invaluable book helps companies tackle the people side of the innovation equation to create workplaces that are safe, fearless and empowered to win with unbridled ideas.
The Fearless Organization offers a step-by-step framework for establishing psychological safety within a team and an organization. It is filled with illustrative scenario-based examples and provides a clear path forward for implementing a culture that thrives on the free expression of ideas and nurturing engagement.
The Fearless Organization can give leaders the confidence they need to unleash individual and collective talent and create the type of work environments that helps everyone succeed and their organizations to thrive.
From the Back Cover
Praise for the fearless organization
"The Fearless Organization is a modern masterpiece -- useful, timeless, and a delight to read. Amy Edmondson's weave of studies, stories, and insights from her decades of research shows why psychological safety is the key ingredient for creating high-performing, humane, and resilient workplaces. This gem is packed with steps that leaders can take so people feel compelled to share mistakes and concerns -- confident they won't be humiliated, ignored, or blamed for speaking up."
--Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and author of national bestsellers including Good Boss, Bad Boss and (with Huggy Rao) Scaling Up Excellence
"Organizations today depend on talent, but there are many reasons that talent alone is not enough. The only way human capacities can truly flourish is in an atmosphere free of fear. Amy Edmondson has devoted 20 years to understanding psychological safety in organizations -- and in this timely, important book she shares what she's learned. She identifies the ways fear can stifle creativity and teamwork -- and then offers smart, practical advice for overcoming these obstacles and building an organization free of fear. This is a book that every leader should read and heed."
--Daniel H. Pink, author of WHEN and DRIVE
"Before Google discovered it, and before the idea became a mainstream meme, Amy Edmondson discovered something really important about high performing teams: the people in them felt that they could raise difficult, risky, or controversial ideas without the fear of being shut down or punished. She called it 'psychological safety, ' and pioneered approaches to making it a reality in hundreds of teams. It is an idea whose time has triumphantly arrived. Edmondson's new book is your guide to it."
--Rita McGrath, Professor, Columbia University, bestselling author, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business
"The overwhelming message of Amy's book is this: leadership calls us to create workplaces where people feel safe to share ideas and mistakes are embraced as opportunities to learn. Build an organization free of fear and watch remarkable things happen. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's the ultimate competitive advantage!"
--Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller and author of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family
"The importance of psychological safety in organizational life has been known for a long time, but only now do we have a roadmap of how to get there through this book's thorough analysis of how to build organizations that actually create psychological safety for all employees at all levels, and, thereby, insure higher quality performance, more safety, and, most importantly, more learning. Psychological safety will not only be desirable but absolutely necessary as organizations become more complex and more dependent on the commitment of all their members. This book makes the case through a thorough review of relevant research and illustrates all of its main points through powerful stories from a broad variety of organizations."
--Edgar H. Schein, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management and author with Peter Schein of Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness and Trust
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The author's thesis is that today growth has to be driven by ideas and ingenuity. Hence, it is important that talent must be utilised to the full. Interesting but hardly new. However, the author adds that few managers in many organisations ever stop to think about the implications. The environment can, for example, be a key determinant of employee motivation. The aim, therefore, of this book is to equip managers and others in authority with some new ideas and practices to make knowledge -intensive businesses perform better. The workplace must it is argued be one that encourages employees to share their knowledge, concerns, errors, and half-formed ideas.
Today, teams are increasingly dominating the workplace.. Hence, individuals need to be able to work with others. What the author calls 'psychological safety' is, it is argued, what explains performance differences in a very wide variety of workplaces. Her views are based on field research over many years. Decisions are increasingly interdependent based , depending on teamwork. 'Teaming' is the buzz word. In a 'safe workplace' interpersonal fear is absent. Risks are taken. The fearless organisation is one that maximises motivation and minimises fear. At the heart of Amy's thesis is the need to communicate openly, and without regard to the consequences. Opinions need to be listened to, and mistakes reported without fear. This is a big ask.
Much of Amy's research began in the1990s studying medication errors in hospitals. The errors were potentially devastating. Along the way she stumbled into the importance of what she calls psychological safety. Today, studies of this can be found in many business sectors. The academic literature is replete with studies. Key findings from the studies are summarised in this book. Some are very interesting.
As a result, practitioners such as managers, consultants and clinicians are endeavouring to create psychological safety in order to foster innovation and learning. The nature and composition of teams is being further studied. This book essentially argues that to be innovative, efficient and effective an organisation has to encourage its employees to speak up without fear, share information, take risks, and contribute expertise. However, this is far easier said than done. Fear does stalk all too many organisations for a number of well entrenched reasons: poor leadership that believes the stick is preferable to the carrot, personal attributes, past experience, fear of being sacked, fear of being regarded as a trouble maker, fear of being seen as too clever by half, fear of failure, and so on. All of these are unfortunately commonplace. Very, very few managers encourage ideas that are opposed to their own for fear of losing their status.
This a very informative and well- meaning book by an author who has spent years immersed in her subject. Having read all too many books about teamwork, motivation and leadership, my reaction to Amy's book is I agree her views, or most of them. My problem is that having experienced a number of very different organisations I am very doubtful that her prescriptions will work in practise. The barriers, the firewalls are far too solid, and the culture of too many organisations is set in cement. Unfortunately, I also know of far too many individuals who have politely spoken out and suffered for it.
I sincerely hope Amy's views win but I have strong doubts unless she has a secret formula for changing humankind. At the heart of this problem is the psychological make-up of humans. Fear, uncertainty, the unwillingness to take risks is inbred in us, the result of centuries of evolution.
Amy might like also to consider the effect on the workplace of the present revolution that is increasingly resulting in AI replacing people, particularly in knowledge-based organisations. Will teamwork still be relevant? Will robots speak out? Will they feel fear? Can they be programmed to use carrots instead of sticks? Such questions will not sound so silly come 2035.
It's not the most comprehensive book (you are left looking for a few more practical steps) but it is a great companion piece for those interested in workplace culture.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Easy, obvious, fluff
Your book if you like culture/leadership books that:
Have substance, will challenge you, actually can help you create a great culture
I work in a combination of school and sports settings as a mental performance coach. I find a lot of schools and coaches are drawn to what's easy when it comes to culture. As a result, they reach for the fluff on bookshelves- makes them feel good but doesn't really do anything. This book is not that. It's well researched and well explained. With some effort, you can draw some really great concepts and tangible ideas to help create and work to maintain a great culture wherever you may work. The stories are well told and connect well with the points made. If I had to pick one negative, the book mentions education several times without providing any specific stories from the education world. That said, the lessons learned can clearly be applied to education. It's one of my favorite books I've read on culture/leadership, and I plan on recommending it to whoever will listen. We need more books like this!
Would be a very good book for FLDP, as well as any leader at Biogen.