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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,299 ratings  ·  153 reviews
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
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Wiley
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Scott Sjoblom
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: completed-2019
Another good TED Talk that was turned into a book with less than stellar success. If you have had no prior exposure to the concept of creating psychological safety, you might find this helpful. But, I would encourage you to just go watch her TED Talk.
Jacob O'connor
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's unmanly to admit, but sometimes I'm afraid. I worry about what might happen. Sometimes the problem is beyond my strength. I can attest that if anxiety takes hold, it dominates my thoughts. This leads to my biggest point of agreement with Amy Edmondson. You can't think clearly when you're afraid. I want to create a safe environment in my office. I don’t want my team to burn calories on anxiety so that they don't have the resources to do their best.


Recommended by Matthew McDaniel

William Anderson
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, emotion invoking case studies and stories showcase the role psychological safety plays in the success and failure of teams, projects, events and endeavors. The fearless organization is a book that leads by example. While explanations illuminate the anecdotes, the stories themselves speak to the necessity of creating workplaces that embrace people speaking up.

Interestingly as well, several tables and sections throughout the book list common mindsets that are antithetical to psychologica
Tõnu Vahtra
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
“A culture of silence is a dangerous culture” This book does well with defining psychological safety and its importance in any organization. It also describes the consequences of low levels of psychological safety and organizations that are driven by fear. I was less impressed by the part about increasing psychological safety in the organization which felt a bit short and not so well structured (I guess more work is needed on that part). This is already not the first book that brought Nokia as a ...more
Brennan Lauritzen
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened-to
Merely having a manager improves employee performance but how can you make employees speak up about safety, innovation, and increase employee happiness?

Psychological Safety is to be a general principle that managers can apply as a rule of thumb. This book describes a psychological safety in various instances: research, assembly lines, staff, and emergency-management, and even split second decision-making (though I wish they'd given even more background on all the reform the commercial piloting i
Kai Inkinen
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book reminded me of what the Anna Karenina-principle. Successful organisations are often alike one another, whereas every failed organisation (usually) has an interesting story to tell. However, avoiding mistakes will only get you so far (as the author does point out), so doing things right takes gut and effort.
I knew about the google example from before and had the privilege of working for good organisations so far. Hence I bought the main claim on page 10 of the book. Hearing more and mor
Daniel Cukier
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do you know those books that upgrade your understanding of the world and enact real good changes in your life? This is what "The fearless organization" was to me.

The author is not only very precise to describe the "psychological safety" concepts with scientific rigor, but also to address practical advices on how to implement these concepts in real life.

One week after reading this book and I can feel positive changes on my behavior when dealing with people.

I hope this book can reach a broader au
Mauro Locarnini
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is a smooth read to get a bit more insight into the research and case studies around psychological safety. However, you can see the tension between a well researched scholastic book and an easy how to guide for business people. Unfortunately It ends up falling short in both categories.

Some of Amy Edmoson's articles and blogs give you the same info with no narrative behind but accomplish the same goal perfectly.
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
Good overview of an important concept, but slipshod reporting. Have worked directly in more than one of the orgs profiled in the book, and know that the author was fed (and apparently adopted wholesale) a PR line, casting the rest of the work into doubt for me.
Oscar Romero
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I honestly feel I could give this book 10 stars--it sure deserves them. We all should read and give away this book to our bosses.....Too bad some of our bosses do not care about reading nor learning about how to run companies better...I do like the example about health care--the example of a nurse afraid of telling the doctor anything--and what is more amazing--it keeps happening. Why? because some Doctors still not capable to understand how to work better together--how to encourage freedom of s ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Most of this I knew...I'm starting to think I know more about psychological safety than most. Anyway if you're not up on it this book will make sure you are now! The first half just talks about the research and the baseline. The second half was almost case studies -intriguing.

"Asking questions tends not to make the leader seem, not weak, but thoughtful and wise....rules of thumb for asking a good question:
1) you don't know the answer
2) you ask questions that d not limit the response options to y
Sebastian Gebski
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
The book is dedicated to a very clear topic (psychological safety as a foundation of successful organizations) & I think it does what's promised - covers the topic end-to-end. But I couldn't help a feeling that what was truly essential was covered in the chapter 1 and the rest of the book is not much more than a repetition ;/

What did I like? There are good & relevant examples, there's clear clarification what's the difference between fearless & over-protective (I can't recall the exact
Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book for people who want to learn how to become more open and set the pace for an open organization. It helps also to understand others better.
Nopadol Rompho
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-science
It's good book that tells you about the fearless organization where people can tell the truth that can save organization from disasters. Love it. ...more
James Wu
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The seminal work on psychological safety.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, practical, actionable, and straightforward. Excellent book!
Renata Narożyńska
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Everyone knows it intuitively but now it's gathered and supported with a tone of research from different industries Respect matters. The benefit of the doubt foster learning. Fail is not a bug in a learning process, but a part of the process. ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lots of good info in this one. The writing is fluid and goes down easy, and the author provides data to back up what is ultimately a pretty common sense premise. Well worth a read if you manage a team.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010s, business
I had high hopes. The first chapter was excellent, but the book quickly deterioriated into Just Another Business book, using as examples wildly successful companies whose stories are tangentially related to the author's point. ...more
Mike Moore
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is an important topic, but it's a pretty bad book. Chapters 1-6 are packed with cautionary anecdotes demonstrating the badness of psychologically unsafe organizations. The chapter summaries for these are virtually interchangeable. Chapter 7 is a hodge-podge of management and leadership best practices ranging freely through coaching, emotional intelligence, communication, strategic vision, and governance. The theme of psychological safety is present as a kind of guiding star, but otherwise i ...more
Joe Cauton
May 13, 2021 rated it liked it
It was ok basically a 200 page book telling you not to be an a**h*le in the work place
Henrik Berglund Berglund
I had great expectations on this book since the author seems to be the authority on the subject. What I did aopreciate about it was solid scientific references. It feels that the bigger part of the book is lengthy wordy stories through. Some, like the one about pilots in an emergency, seems to be very vagely related pstchological safey. There are perhaps 30 good pages in here, but to unfocused and lengthy for my taste.
Adam Haller
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you have ever been part of a team that was not performing at its top potential, with lots of hushed whispers about office politics, then you must read Edmondson's well researched and concise book on how to conquer the bad, and reach for business greatness.

By citing several well known cases, and exploring epic failures that created losses for society way beyond the companies and their stakeholders, the author really drives home the point that leaders need to listen to their staff. She points o
Niklas Heer
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
I like the positive and negative examples for psychological safety which provides a clear picture to strive for. For me personally I would have liked more concrete steps to implement psychological safety in an organization. I was convinced very soon about the importance of the topic so for me less examples and more blueprint-like implementation suggestions would have made it perfect for me.
That said I still recommend this book to everyone who wants to build a productive work environment.
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hr-business, psych
I think the main thesis is true, but this book doesn't present any convincing evidence. It's just the usual random citations to academic studies (e.g., where the term only appears in the title). There's some case studies. There's Google's very overblown Aristotle project. There's no formal or detailed publications on this, just some vague blogposts. Google also acts completely contrary to what it preaches in these blogposts.

Bizarrely, the author singles o
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff. Most of it is in the Ted Talk.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book on psychological safety that is a must read for any people leader.
Bob Wallner
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Fearless Organization is an excellent book about psychological safety in the workplace. The first part of the book is focused on what psychological safety is and what it looks like. The second part focuses on how psychological safety benefits the workplace. In the third section, the book focuses on both psychological safe and unsafe businesses. Many of the cases cited were well-publicized while others are lesser-known. The book concludes with a couple of chapters on how a leader can build a ...more
Andrea Angella
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fear is not an effective motivator for companies whose success requires collaboration. When performance standards are high but psychological safety is low, employees are anxious about speaking up and both work quality and safety suffer.

Trust is about giving others the benefits of the doubt. Psychological safety relates to whether others will give you the benefits of the doubt when you've asked for help or admitted a mistake.

Effective teamwork happens best in a psychologically safe place. The bes
Vivek Gupta
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
In her book, The fearless organization, Amy C. Edmondson brings to you her research, recent case studies and her perspective on how to make it a reality in your own team.

Amy makes a credible case that lack of psychological safety could be one of the primary reasons for many of the recent high profile cases of moral / ethical failures by companies like Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, Uber etc.

At the same time, she brings up examples of companies like Pixar, Eileen Fisher, Bridgewater Associates, Googl
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Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, where she teaches courses in leadership, organizational learning, and operations management in the MBA and Executive Education programs.

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“Cheating and covering up are natural by-products of a top-down culture that does not accept “no” or “it can't be done” for an answer. But combining this culture with a belief that a brilliant strategy formulated in the past will hold indefinitely into the future becomes a certain recipe for failure.” 1 likes
“Hierarchy (or, more specifically, the fear it creates when not handled well) reduces psychological safety.” 1 likes
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