Monthly Archives: August 2020

Book Notes: The Fearless Organization

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy C. Edmondson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book provides a number of great stories from when Psychological Safety was present, e.g. the, and when it was not, e.g. VW emissions scandal

Psychological Safety is the experience at a group level about personal consequences aka wil others give you the benefit of doubt. This is different to trust which is on the individual level.

A lack of psychological safety can create an illusion of success that eventually turns into serious bussiness failure.

Epidemic of Silence – because it is easier not to speak up, especially when you fear what will happen if you do. Speaking up benefits the organisation but the benefit is neither immediate nor certain. Speaking up produces learning –

  • from mistakes
  • fixing issues not just working around them
  • sharing knowledge even when confidence in the knowledge is low
  • team based learning through knowledge sharing, offering suggestions and brainstorming

Leaders need to embrace bad news, not only good news. Getting bad news early can nearly always reduce or mitigate failure. People need to be ok to embrace the bad and supported to experiment – which may result in failure. E.g. at Pixar all movies start out bad and it is by embracing that, getting feedback and improving that they make great movies. This is achieved through

  • transparency,
  • productive conflict,
  • humble listening,
  • caring,
  • making it safe to fail through rapid evaluation (because long lived zombie projects are the real failure),
  • asking for input and
  • saying “I don’t know”.

Setting the stage to align on shared expectations and meaning
reFrame the Work – setting expectations about failure, uncertainty and interdependence – highlighting the need for voice
Emphasising purpose – Identifying what is at stake, why it matters and for whom

Inviting participation so people are confident that voice is welcome
Demonstrate situational humility – acknowledge gaps
Practice inquiry – ask good questions and model intense listening
Set up Structures and Processes – forums for input, guidelines for discussions

Respond productively to orientate towards continuous learning
Express appreciation – listen, acknowledge and thank
Destigmatize failure – look forward, offer help, discuss, consider and brainstorm next steps
Sanction clear violations

Reframe the boss

Default FrameReframe
The BossHas answers
Gives orders
Assesses others performance
Sets direction
Invites input to clarify and improve
Creates conditions for continued learning
Learning achieved through success and failure
The aim is to achieve excellence
OthersSubordinates who must do what they’re toldContributors with crucial knowledge and insight

Reframe failure

Traditional FrameDestigmatised Reframe
Concept of FailureFailure is not acceptableFailure is a natural by-product of experimentation
Beliefs about
effective performance
Effective performers don’t failEffective performers produce, learn from and
share the lessons from intelligent failures
The goalPrevent failurePromote fast learning
The frame’s impactPeople hide failure to protect themselvesOpen discussions, fast learning and innovation

Responding to different types of failure

Preventable FailureComplex FailureIntelligent Failure
Process improvement
Systems redesign
Sanctions – if repeated or blameworthy
Failure analysis from diverse perspectives
Identification of risk factors to address
System improvements
Failure parties
Failure awards
Thoughtful analysis
Brainstorming new hypotheses
Design next experiments

Book Notes: Crucial Accountability

Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  1. What do you really want to address?
    1. The content
    2. The pattern
    3. The relationship
  2. If?
    1. Don’t let fear make the decision.
    2. What is the risk of not having the conversation?
  1. What story am I telling myself? What is the rest of the stories?
PersonalIs the person motivated to do itDoes the person have the skills/knowledge
SocialPeople want to fit in with othersAre others helping or hindering
StructureDoes the reward structure match the aimDoes the physical structure fit
  1. Make it safe with facts
  2. Explain the gap between expected and observed
  3. Make it motivating and easy (using the above table)
  4. Agree on a plan and follow up – who does what by when, then follow up
  5. Stay focused and flexible – keep to the topic, if new topics come up then decide if they are more important but return to the original topic. Don’t get sidetracked.

Self assessment

Choose What and If

  1. To avoid getting into an argument, I tend to put off certain discussions longer than I should.
  2. Sometimes when people disappoint or bother me, I confront them-only to realize that I talked about the easy problem, but not the real root problem.
  3. Parts of my life would improve if I could just figure out how to talk about certain hot topics without taking too much risk.
  4. Occasionally I talk myself out of holding a certain discussion by convincing myself it’s better to cope than it is to risk an ugly confrontation.
  5. With some of the problems I care about the most, I find myself bringing up the same issue over and over again.

Master My Stories

  1. When others do things that are mean or selfish and I’m less than kind in return, I tell myself that they deserved it.
  2. When others don’t deliver on a promise, there are times when I judge their reasons for doing so more quickly than I should.
  3. Sometimes
  4. I assume that others cause me problems on purpose, and then I act as if this assumption is actually true when it may be false.
  5. Occasionally I wonder if I’m too quick to anger.
  6. There are times when I’ve totally blamed others for a problem only to learn that I was partially responsible.

Describe the Gap

  1. Sometimes I bring up problems in a way that makes others defensive.
  2. Occasionally I talk to someone about his or her bad behavior within earshot of others.
  3. There are times when I can’t figure out how to give others completely honest feedback in a way that won’t offend them.
  4. Sometimes when I bring up a problem. I do too
  5. much talking and not enough listening.
  6. When I bring up problems with others, there are times when I make it hard for them to share their views

Make It Motivating

  1. I can’t motivate some people to change because I don’t have enough power to do so.
  2. In order to get people to want to do certain things, sometimes I rely on guilt or threats
  3. There are times when I can’t figure out why people aren’t interested in doing what they should be doing.
  4. Sometimes it’s hard to get others to understand that the behavior I want from them is really in their best interest.
  5. There are people routinely deal with who, to be honest, just can’t be motivated.

Make It Easy

  1. When people find a job to be unattractive or nox ious, I occasionally turn up the heat so they’ll do it no matter what.
  2. When someone can’t do something, I tend to jump in with my advice, when all they really want is a chance to talk about their ideas.
  3. Sometimes I think that individuals who bend over backward to make jobs easy are pampering people who just need to do their job and be held accountable.
  4. Occasionally after finishing a problem-solving discussion, I forget to check to see if the other person is committed to doing what’s necessary.
  5. There are times when I’ve asked others for their ideas but didn’t really need them because I already had a plan of my own.

Stay Focused and Flexible

  1. When talking to others about problems, sometimes I get sidetracked and miss the original problem.
  2. When people bring up whole new problems during an accountability discussion, I don’t know what to do with the new issue.
  3. When people get angry in the middle of a discussion, I don’t always know how to respond.
  4. I’m pretty good at staying focused on an issue, but occasionally I may miss talking about what the other person really wants to discuss.
  5. When people miss a commitment and should have updated me but didn’t, I generally let them off the hook-even though they didn’t have the courtesy to involve me.

Agree on a Plan and Follow Up

  1. Sometimes I work through a problem but forget to clarify who is supposed to do what by when
  2. There are times when I’m disappointed with what others have done because they have failed to understand exactly what I wanted them to do.
  3. Sometimes I neglect to give others a specific deadline, only to be surprised when they don’t deliver by the time I expected them to.
  4. I’m pretty sure that either my kids, my spouse, or some of the people I work with think I micromanage them.
  5. Sometimes I give people assignments but don’t have adequate time to follow up.

The aim – to answer “No” to all of the statements