The Importance of Psychological Safety in Agile Environments

There is brand new research (published on March 12, 2019) from Sweden on the role of psychological safety in implementing agile in multi-cultural organizations.

Researchers Sara Thorgren and Elin Caimen looked at how psychological safety was implemented in a software division of a multi-cultural global manufacturer of commercial vehicles.

What they found was a significant difference in how individuals interpreted the basic foundations on which agile teams should operate.

They found differences in 3 areas:
1. Attitudes towards inclusiveness
2. Differences in perceptions of trust and collective responsibility
3. Differences in openness to communication

The result was significant problems between the cultures and difficulties in accessing the benefits of self-organizing teams. Specifically problems in a lack of clarity around who bears responsibility for what, and meetings that were characterized by silent and reluctant contribution.

What is clear from this study is the importance in agile environments of putting effort into developing common language and actions around creating psychologically safe workplaces. It is not enough to implement agile processes if you don’t at the same time implement psychological safety.

Download the research here: The Role of Psychological Safety in Implementing Agile Methods across Cultures