Psychological Safety as a Pre-Condition for Lean


“Simply put, we cannot get to zero harm without psychological safety.”

I wrote that as part of this page on the Value Capture website:

I've come to understand that psychological safety is a precondition for “implementing #Lean” or however you might say. Toyota seems to strive for (if not have) a relatively high level of psychological safety.

You can't copy Toyota tools and expect them to work the same in your workplace if you don't have a high enough level of psychological safety.

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You can't have continuous improvement without a high enough level of psychological safety.

You won't have world-class performance without a high enough level of psychological safety.

Why do I say “high enough”? Because psychological safety (or the lack thereof) is not a binary yes/ no situation. There's a spectrum.

Not “is it psychologically safe?” but more a matter of “how safe is it”?

And safety is a matter of individual perception. How safe do YOU feel that it is?

The same environment might feel relatively safe for you, but not for me based on our different experiences — both in our current organization as well as past experiences (or baggage) that we bring with us.

As we weigh the decision of “do I speak up to challenge the status quote?” or not, your risk/reward balance might be different than mine.

I'm excited to have been trained and certified by LeaderFactor on “The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety” methodology to measure, learn, and improve.

My learning continues.

I'd love to work with you on this within your team or your organization. Contact me if you'd like to talk.

What do you think? Please leave a comment or join the discussion on Linkedin.

See another post that I wrote recently on this topic…

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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