Review: The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The concept of “Psychological Safety” is both often misunderstood, and essential to effective (and even innovative) groups. “Psychological Safety” is about how comfortable people are sharing and challenging ideas. Psychological Safety is a very practical matter. It can be related to physical safety as well (for example, a factory when team members are reluctant to point out safety issues), and business success and innovation. Timothy Clark’s new book (which I got an advance copy of) explains the concept in a clear way and defines a framework you can use to understand where your group -- be it a work group or a social group -- stands, and how it can get better.
After an overview, the book goes through the 4 stages: Inclusion Safety, Learner Safety, and Contributor safety, and Innovator safety, defines each and explains impact on the team dynamic, and what is necessary for each to exist. The book helped me to better understand why some groups I’ve worked with felt pleasant and productive, and why others felt less so. The framework makes reference to other concepts you may have heard, such as Grit, Teaming and safety culture.
At the core, the book is about business, but the author used examples and analyses from a range of domains, which is both good and bad. The good is that it makes it clear how universal these ideas are, in school, work, and interpersonal life. The bad is that the book lacks a bit or coherence that could have made it a great book. As the book progresses from discussing inclusion safety to challenger safety, the focus shift more toward business teams, but maintains connections toward more global society issues.
Personal, and third party stories from the business and non-business contexts as well as ideas from the literature on safety and related fields. Chapters end with summaries of key points and actions to take, and end notes and references can point you in the right direction if you wish to go deeper.
This book is a quick, actionable read. You’ll learn things you can (and should) to do move your group to the higher levels in the framework, and understand the situations that might be less salvageable. Those in a leadership role, such as managers will find it useful to understand . And those not in that explicit role will benefit both from the context it provides to help you to understand why you might be feeling some discomfort in your work place, and also the small things you can do on your own to make it better.