Psychological Safety Newsletter #38: Wardley Mapping and GEMs

Training, Workshops, Exercises and Tools

Psychological Safety Newsletter #38: Wardley Mapping and GEMs

psychological safety wardley mapping
Welcome to the psychological safety newsletter and thanks for subscribing. You are awesome. This week includes GEMs, Wardley mapping, safety climate, and sports psychology. Enjoy, have a wonderful day, and happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it!

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This newsletter is sponsored by Conflux.

Conflux is the leading business consultancy worldwide helping organisations to navigate fast flow in software. We help organisations to adopt and sustain proven, modern practices for delivering software rapidly and safely.

We’ve recently been reading ‘The Fearless Organization’ by Amy C. Edmondson, and Sophie Weston, Principal at Conflux, has put together some key takeaways from the book in this article

Psychological Safety In the Workplace: I often highlight the work of Paul O’Neill at Alcoa in workshops and talks in order to elucidate the dynamics between cultures of safety and the broader organisational benefits that occur as a result. This is a great paper by Yueng-HsiangHuang et al that highlights the connection between safety climate and employee outcomes beyond accidents and injuries, including job satisfaction, engagement, and broader organisational performance.

Thanks to Helen Ivesfor sharing this sketchnote by Nikakim, of questions suggested by Jean Marie DiGiovanna

 Are you a healthcare worker in Canada? If so, researchers at Queen’s University and HEC Montreal are inviting you to participate in research to identify barriers and facilitators to accessing support for psychological self-care and protection from moral distress.
Thanks to Dr Edmondson for sharing this conversation with Rita McGrath. I love the point about how difficult it can be to say “You’re right” instead of defaulting to defensiveness, and there’s a great example of Fred Wilson and Joah Spearman on Twitter in respect to the murder of George Floyd.

Psychological Safety Theory, Research and Opinion:

Listen to this episode of The Sport Psych Show with Dan Abrahams, with guest Dr Mustafa Sarkar (@MusSarkar). Mustafa is Associate Professor of Sport and Performance Psychology at Nottingham Trent University (my alma mata), and discusses psychological safety in sport with particular focus on individual, team and organisational resilience in elite sport.
This is really interesting. Ben Mosior, Wardley Mapping expert, mapped aspects of psychological safety practice proposed by Viktor Cessan in a thread from 2019. Viktor reminds us that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building psychological safety, and suggests self-reflection, the SCARF model (that we’ve featured previously in the newsletter), and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) (also featured previously) as good starters for ten in our efforts to build psychological safety.

We covered Wardley Mapping in previous issues too, and a note on Wardley Mapping itself, to quote Ben Mosior: “this map isn’t The Truth… only a proposal of what the truth MIGHT be, based on our experiences.” Wardley mapping is an excellent way of creating sense and clarity out of the complex, and making strategic decisions based upon that clarity. If you’re interested in finding out more, Ben can help you out.

In this episode of the Work Life podcast, Adam breaks down the importance of psychological safety in preventing errors and promoting innovation and inclusion, and examines what it takes to build a culture of voice rather than silence. Guests include Ed Pierson, Amy Edmondson, Captain Bill Wilson and Admiral McRaven.

This is something that’s been on my mind for a while, and thanks to both Ben Mosior (see above) and Jessica DeVita for nudges that made me finish writing “Why” (it still needs work though!). I’m often made uncomfortable by attempts to commoditise psychological safety and generative methods, both because it can result in gatekeeping of knowledge and even more because I don’t want psychological safety to be weaponised and used purely with an intent to increase productivity. However, as I write in this piece, it’s my belief that we’re now entering a new management and leadership paradigm, where psychological safety and inclusive and generative approaches become the norm, in part because they improve organisational performance, but for the most part because it’s the right thing to do.

Things to do and try: This isn’t about psychological safety per se, but about experimentation. OKRs are a widely adopted practice across multiple industries, having been first introduced by Andrew Grove at Intel in his 1983 book “High Output Management” (which to me sounds disturbingly close to Taylor’s “Scientific Management“).  Here, Kathy Keating critiques OKRs and suggests a simplified and more actionable alternative: GEMs: Goals, Experiments, and Measures. The main thrust being that GEMs encourage experimentation and avoid end-dates: they create habits, not projects.
There was an article shared in The Economist this week that mentioned Kim Scott‘s excellent Radical Candour concept, and yet again, got it wrong. To quote Kim, “Radical Candor means Challenging Directly while also showing that you Care Personally.” Personally, I like to make the point that delivering candour means putting the work in yourself, not making the recipient shoulder the burden of receiving brutally direct honesty. Read more about Radical Candour on Kim Scott’s website.

This week’s poem:

This Is Just To Say, by William Carlos Williams 

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

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