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

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 159 x 234 x 24mm | 472g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1. Auflage
  • 1119477247
  • 9781119477242
  • 6,145

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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.
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Back cover copy

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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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
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Review Text

"a valuable addition to the popular management literature on teamwork" (Finanical Times, Oct 2018)
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About Amy C. Edmondson

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.
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Rating details

522 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 35% (182)
4 40% (208)
3 22% (115)
2 3% (15)
1 0% (2)
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