Loss of innovation is probably the biggest business impact of Psychological UNsafety, but hard to measure. In her book, Professor Amy Edmondson gives us an example from Nokia on how they failed despite a superior product, and you will see that Psychological UNsafety was behind the scenes of the fall. Examples like this are to be found in each one of the books I previously referred to as my inspiration. If we are not willing to share our crazy and great ideas, there will be no innovation! When these bold and crazy ideas hit the team, they should not be laughed at, but discussed, and perhaps your idea is the initial spark for a similar but better idea that later will change the world. Sometimes you need a formal forum for innovation, and I can recommend having ‘coding dojos’ and monthly innovation days.
The best innovation session I ever had was with a company in the 90’s when we looked for new customers. We offered our three core competences along with a new website for them as our USP. One competence was feasibility where I came from with deep knowledge about the web techniques at that time, restricted to Flash, CSS, and HTML. The second was the viability competence our management offered with the understanding of how to make money from websites and the third was usability where we had the best Art directors and Copywriters at hand making sure we had great design. We called the biggest funeral home company in Sweden, Fonus, introduced ourselves and asked if we could come for a visit with a great offer. The marketing manager at Fonus did not have a chance to say no, so we took the next day off and locked ourselves in a big room with pillows, food and alcohol and out came crazy ideas no one had thought of and was refined together with all of our mixed competences. One week later seven people with different skills visited Fonus and pitched our ideas of the big opportunity with digital funerals on the web, including our great visualisations on the big panels we were unable to fold. (They filled up the trunk of the taxi.) Back home again we put the panels on the walls as inspiration for more innovation. Still, no funeral companies offer digital funerals as we suggested, but perhaps certain things should stay as they are. We all had a great time, and the similar process is recommended for any business – but with better timing!
But first: Replace the alcohol with Psychological Safety.