Psychological Safety #20: Aviation and Debriefing

Training, Workshops, Exercises and Tools

Psychological Safety #20: Aviation and Debriefing

meetings and psychological safety

Thanks for subscribing to the psychological safety newsletter! This week we have some incredible content from the world of air traffic operations, debriefing, a great Padlet board, pre-mortems and more!

I also have a small favour to ask! We’re all part of building a super movement here and raising great awareness of psychological safety, so if you know anyone who might be interested, please forward a copy of this newsletter to them so they can subscribe too 🙂 Thanks!

 Special VIP access for newsletter readers! You can now order these “Always Practising” stickers as well as the “Everything Is An Experiment” stickers on Thanks to Joshua Herzig-Marx and his wife Carla for the idea 🙂

In the Workplace:

Headlining this month is the fantasticissue 32 of EUROCONTROL’s HindSight magazine, the magazine on human and organisational factors in operations, air traffic management and more. Issue 32 concerns ‘the new reality’ that we are facing and includes a loads of articles from front-line staff and specialists in safety, human factors, psychology, aeromedical, and human and organisational performance in aviation. It’s so good, that whilst I suggest reading through the entire issue, I’m highlighting a few key articles below:

Human Performance – making it easy for people to do the right thing. This has long been a tenet of mine, and this article superbly clarifies the 5 principles of Human Performance. Really worth a read.

After a long time away from “normal” workplaces and colleagues, knowing what our team norms are has become much more difficult and we need to have explicit conversations about ‘the way we do things around here’, and how and when to deviate from those norms.

This is a great practical piece about online learning and teaching. Learning online has become the new reality for most of us and here, Ceca Bunjevac and Steven Shorrock share lessons from online teaching and facilitation. Some handy tips and reminders in this piece.

This is a nice writeup from the Container Solutions folks about psychological safety as a “Cloud Native” pattern, and emphasises the point that psychological safety is imperative for both coming up with new ideas, and learning from experiments, both of which are essential for cloud native transformations in technology organisations.

Code-switching —  temporarily shifting language, mannerisms, behaviour, and appearance to conform to norms and gain credibility in the workplace or other environment is a mechanism employed by many of us to counter low psychological safety, and it’s particularly prevalent for black women, in white- and male- dominated workplaces. This is a powerful article showing how much black women have to employ code-switching in the workplace, and the emotional price it exacts.

Theory, Research and Opinion:

I really like this article by Herminia Ibarra in “Leader to Leader” about Five Leadership Skills For the Future. Herminia highlights the competencies of Cross-cutting, Collaborating, Coaching, Culture shaping and Connecting.

I love Liz And Mollie cartoons. Here’s a great one demonstrating the effect of an absence of psychological safety.

Things to do and try:

Whilst this is a few years old, it’s still a fantastic resource – the Debriefing Facilitation Guide from Etsy, written by John Allspaw, Morgan Evans, Daniel Schauenberg, full of advice and practices to help teams learn from incidents.

Becky Thomas (@Becky_QICTM on Twitter) has put together this excellent Padlet board as a collaborative resource for psychological safety. Head over and find some useful resources, and you can add your own too!

Here’s a great thread by Shreyas Doshi (@shreyas) looking at the “what” and “how” of pre-mortems, along with a novel technique of using “Tigers”, “Paper Tigers”, and “Elephants” to run effective pre-mortems with your teams.

This week’s poem:

Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward, by Gwendolyn Brooks

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
“Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.


We’re working on a psychological safety meetup. Roughly once every month, we’ll have a speaker on a certain topic, and an opportunity for us all to collaborate, workshop ideas and practices, and maintain a safe space for psychological safety! More details to come, but if you would like to be involved, head over to the community: and sign up here:

As always, check out, for more resources and articles. 
Read previous newsletters here, and get in touch if you’d like to share something in this newsletter.

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