Psychological Safety #16: Social Contracts

Training, Workshops, Exercises and Tools

Psychological Safety #16: Social Contracts

Thanks for subscribing to the psychological safety newsletter! This week, “Me Days”, social contracts, next-gen organisations and more.
In the Workplace:

This deserves the headline this week: “Me Days” at Aula. Ozzie Clarke-Binns, People Lead at Aula describes so well in this LinkedIn post why we can’t simply leave the outside world “at the door” when we come to work. 

Here’s a great and useful piece from “The Action Hero Teacher” called “6 Rules You Need To Create the Perfect Social Contract“. Whilst this is obviously directed towards teachers and classroom behaviour, sometimes we adults require just as fundamental and clear boundaries and expectations!

And if you’re thinking of trying to create social contracts in your teams, your sessions or something else, here’s a comprehensive social contract practice writeup on the Open Practice Library.

This is a super comprehensive article about psychological safety in software teams by Luís Soares. I really like how this addresses psychological safety in nearly every aspect of software delivery.

I’m not going to share any links because right now it’s hard to discern exactly what the truth is, but I have a feeling that we’re going to be talking about BrewDog in next week’s newsletter…

Theory, Research and Opinion:

This is a great article by Simon Wardley (of Wardley Mapping), and describes how he’s aggregated and codified the characteristics of “next-gen” organisations. You might want to skip all the methodology stuff (or not, have at it) but the main crux is that the evidence shows that the next-gen (progressive) organisations are adopting practices and behaviours that facilitate responsibility, sustainability, and are values-driven. I believe that psychological safety is a common thread through all of these capacities.

Here’s a fab piece by Marcella Bremer on the “Fearless, Learning Culture” in Leadership and Change Magazine. I particularly like this quote: “Silence often wins the voice-silence calculation that we make.”

Psychological safety really is mainstream now isn’t it? Another Forbes article, by Paul Spiegelman – Psychological Safety Takes Years To Develop And Seconds To Shatter.

Things to do and try:

Building psychological safety invariably means being conscious of your own biases, recognising them (even stating them out loud) and recognising biases of others. Here is an incredible list of 180 different cognitive biases. Useful to use in your leadership practice, and maybe the basis of a workshop. Maybe someone could invent cognitive bias bingo?

15/5 reports – When I first began “doing” leadership, I struggled to establish a way to get high-cadence, high-quality, low-effort information from the members of my team. 15/5 reports became my go-to practice for reporting, and although I’ve evolved and modified the questions over the years, the practice remains the same and is super powerful. Try it out and let me know what you think.

This week’s poem:

“When we got to the beach” by Hollie McNish

i screamed
sprinted to the sea
flung off shoes and socks
ran towards imagined heaving waves
and jumped each tiny trickle that I found there
with just the same excitement

you stayed back
took your socks off more timidly
giggled at your stupid mother
eventually took my hand

we jumped together
and we jumped together
and we jumped together

three hours later
collapsing on our backs
we made angels in the sand

the seaside always made me
want to scream

with you
i can

Read more of Hollie’s amazing poetry on her website.


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