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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  929 ratings  ·  114 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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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
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.
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.
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!
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: business, 2010s
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.
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
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
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psych, hr-business
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
Timon Ruban
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
There is a good chance I would have given this book a better rating had it not been my third in a row on the topic of building well-functioning teams (the other two being Leonconi's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" and Scott's "Radical Candor").
The bad: it is not well written (both the 5 Dysfunctions and Radical Candor are much more fun to read) and since Edmondson is a professor it lacks the useful, practical advice Scott (who has actual experience managing at Google and Apple) gives in her bo
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
Tathagat Varma
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was a high-tension drama. The manager was slamming the table hard, showing fingers to the team and getting angrier by the minute. The team wasn't holding any punches back either. After what seemed like an eternity, the meeting got over, but not before causing permanent damage to relationships. Most of the team quit in next few months because they either expected retaliation, or had simply exhausted their emotional capital. I was one of them.

That #workplace clearly didn't have psychological s
Synthia Salomon
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a teacher, I like to think of myself as the leader of a fearless organization (my classroom). I found this book to be helpful in terms of my leadership in the classroom and dealing with leadership of my school and district. “Today, success at work means being able to take risks and have conversations that lead to innovation, but this is impossible to do when people feel unsupported and afraid. When leaders and colleagues alike start inviting other voices to the table and encouraging people to ...more
Hans Drayer
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I regularly sighed while reading "If only I had known this, then ...."! The book exudes what Edmondson also preaches when she speaks about creating psychological safety: to openly, humbly and involved establish a climate in which people can speak out without fear of .... Many books on leadership present themselves as the only way to and the cure for everything that goes wrong. Fortunately, this book does not do this, but this is precisely the reason why it is so powerful and straightforward.

Madhukar Anand
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book helps you operationalise often repeated "innovative" "risk taking" culture in your organisation and professional circle.

I remember that how "fear of failure" was always in my weakness list while preparing for any interview. With more experience and a few more grey hair i may have overcome this "Fear" but the book made me realize that why this "fear" exist in mind of people. Because failure is never celebrated
in reality ... One would put a quote here and there like failure is stepping
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book started strong but I had a VERY hard time finishing it. I'm not sure if it was just bad life timing (COVID) or just things going on in my work life, but it frustrated me listening to how I could and should be acting in order to build a psychologically safe organization when I feel like it's all I can do to get through a day, let alone try and change my organization's culture.

That said, I think that my issues are more with where I am and less about this book. I also was feathering my re
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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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Are you spending this season bundling up against the chill or enjoying summery southern hemisphere vibes (in which case we are...
77 likes · 28 comments
“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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