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Psychological Safety

Origins of Psychological Safety

The term " Team Psychological Safety" was created by Amy Edmondson, an organizational behavioral scientist at Harvard. She is highly published and an approachable video is her 2014 TEDxHGSE talk Building a psychologically safe workplace. She has more recent talks on forming teams  and leading during crisis, which are also excellent.

Examples of Psychological Saftey

Without psychological safety: You are in a meeting and a leader is saying things that you don't think are true. You want to call B.S, but you feel like you should know better or you missed a meeting. So you don't speak up.

With psychological saftey: You know you will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakesso you feel comfortable asking the leader to clarify and you share the part of what they said that doesn't agree with what you currently know to be true.

"I feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of my team" — Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior 1999, Edmondson

Popularization by Google

Google conducted the re:work study in 2016 and published a Guidebook  for improving team effectiveness. A key finding in this study was the need for psychological safety.

Popularization in DevOps

The creation and protection of Psychological Safety has become an important concept in DevOps, SRE, and Engineering cultures in general. Many folks have presented on this topic.Psychological Safety and DevOps  by Matt Westgate is an example from DevOpsDays Philadelphia back in 2018.

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