Chad Mullinax

Passionate Product ProfessionalAgile PractitionerData Junkie

Crafting Safe Spaces

I recently came across the following tweet (thanks @mrcthompson!) which furiously sparked in an internal crisis of conscious:

A checklist for safety; do you feel: 

Safe to experiment?
Safe to be wrong?
Safe to share your thoughts?
Safe to be who you are?
Safe to challenge something you disagree with?
Safe to not know the answer?

Safe teams are good teams!

As I started down the list, I realized I was having trouble putting solid yes’ these questions. I also realized these aren’t really separate question but one large question and it all starts and ends with Experimentation!

It can all start and end with Experimentation!

Experimentation means many things too many organizations. For me, I tend to follow Doc Norton’s model on Experimentation Mindset:

In his model, he uses an example of deviating from the script in order to find the optimal model that delivers on outcomes. Organization that are outcome adverse tend to dissuade against going against the established model. An example might include:

  • Swapping out a Delivery model (ex. SAFe to Squads) without having determined what outcomes we want to impact.
  • Peer and/or organizational friction (lack of trust comes from fear/self-preservation) to micro-experimentation models (an example could be making changes at the smallest team level to validate something)

For myself to put a solid Yes to this question, there is a cycle of trust that has be encouraged of everyone around regardless of whatever our professional or personal mindset is:

  1. Trust on Loan (aka Blind Trust)
  2. Autonomy (complete freedom to experiment)
  3. Failure (experiment didn’t work)
  4. More Blind Trust

So what changes when the experiment does work?

  1. Success (next operating model discovered)
  2. Trust is earned through success

This is when experimentation begins to feel safe! Trust creates all the safe spaces. It allows us to say YES to every question on our safety check list.

Can you say YES to all the questions on your safety checklist?

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