Psychological Safety #11: DevOps, Agile and Lean

Training, Workshops, Exercises and Tools

Psychological Safety #11: DevOps, Agile and Lean


Thanks for subscribing to the psychological safety newsletter! This week we have how to deal with toxic leadership, artwork by Sherrill Knezel, Lean, DevOps, and a poem about equality.
 This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Red Hat Open Innovation Labs

A globally dispersed team. Eight weeks. One learning platform that can save lives. This is the story of how a team at the World Health Organisation worked with Red Hat Open Innovation Labs to build an idea into a working proof-of-concept. Watch this great video to find out more.

Join our Psychological Safety Community on Slack! Read more here: and sign up here:

Work and industry:

I get personally frustrated at the disparity between the kind of leaders we should have in organisations, versus the ones that we often get. Here’s a super piece about the ways that organisations can encourage employees to fight back against toxic leadership.

I’m really impressed with this. The Committee to Protect Journalists have created a four-part Safety Kit which provides journalists and newsrooms with basic safety information on physical, digital and psychological safety resources and tools.

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves”

I love this graphic by Sherrill Knezel@sherrillknezel on Twitter. It’s only by fostering a culture of psychological safety that we can create a space where people can be themselves.

And from Twitter as well – this is a great point by Matt Wallaert – “Power and psychological safety have an uneasy relationship.” :
The publishing company Elsevier is really focused on creating an increasingly psychologically safe environment in which people are comfortable expressing and being themselves. In this article, Elisabete Alvarez, Journal Manager and Learning Manager, talks about “5 things that energize me as an employee at Elsevier”.

Diversity and Inclusion:

“It shouldn’t feel like an act of bravery for a teammate to say when something doesn’t feel right. It should feel like everyone’s expected duty.” This is a powerful article by Janice Burch (ex-Basecamp) on Cultivating an Inclusive Culture

And this from Sharon O’Dea includes some fantastic insights about the importance of an open culture where employees can discuss politics without feeling like they might be punished.


Students value Socratic (questioning) teaching methodsbut often feel humiliated if they get a question wrong. Whilst they don’t feel that is the intention of the teachers, it’s clear that a culture of psychological safety would improve clinical teaching.

Debriefing is a reflective practice, where we learn directly from our experiences in real life or in simulation. Plus/Delta (or +/Δ) is a foundational debriefing method and Shannon McNamara has started a bi-weekly publication on it. It sounds awesome, so sign up here!

Related to debriefing practices are retrospectives, where the team come together to examine success, failure, and ways of working. They are incredibly powerful ways to improve performance and increase psychological safety.


This is a great piece by Marty de Jonge about psychological safety and dynamics in Agile teams, nicely pulling in Google’s Project Aristotle team performance factors and a whole load of Lean principles.

In this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast, Tom Cudd talks about his experiences with DevOps and how it ties in with psychological safety, and about the dangers of “hero culture” in the workplace.

Theory & practice:

This is a great interview with Dr. Edmondson, and I really appreciate that Amy highlighted that you’re more likely to create a psychologically safe environment when you are firm on behaviour that’s out of bounds

This week’s poem:

People Equal
by James Berry

Some people shoot up tall.
Some hardly leave the ground at all
Yet people equal. Equal.

One voice is a non-sugar tomato
Another is sweet mango.
Yet people equal. Equal.

Some people rush to the front.
Other people feel they can’t.
Yet people equal. Equal.

Blow hard on some people they fall.
Hammer others you meet a wall.
Yet people equal. Equal.

One person will sit on a star.
Others never get that far.
Yet people equal. Equal.

Some people never take off with their show.
Others are always on the go.
Yet people equal. Equal.

© James Berry (The Story I Am In: Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 2011.


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