Agile Book Club

A Culture of Safety

November 01, 2021 Justyna Pindel and Paul Klipp Season 3 Episode 17
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

. Paul, I love your background. It makes me smile. I hope also that something that you can already see makes you smile too. Now you have to guess. I bought this thing for the shaking, uh, for my mind. Oh, right, right, right. Okay. I see it. I see. I was looking at you, I was thinking, did you change your hair? What? ? And then, and looking behind you, is there a medal from your half marathon hanging on the wall? What? No. Okay, so you've got the shock mount for your microphone, so no more boom, boom, boom. Sounds in the background when, whenever you put down your glass of water or what have you. Okay. Exactly. And also, I, I got something more because I know how, how annoying it has to be to annoying, you know, how annoying is it to edit. So I go those foam things. So I put my, uh, glasses, you know, on this instead of, instead of on the table. So I really hope that your editing experience for these episodes and upcoming 2000 more will be as pleasant as possible. I will keep trying and failing. I I very much appreciate that. I very much appreciate that. So, you like this painting, huh? That's, that's, isn't that fun? Isn't that just fun and, and it's huge. It's as big as the sofa and so it's just this massive expansive grass and tomatoes and Campbell soup cans. . Can you describe for our, is in the painting behind you? Oh, yeah. So, um, so I, I, I moved into a bigger flat, so I have more space now, and that means I can buy more art and I love buying art. So we went to a gallery last weekend and. Picked out some things to fill up this space. We we're taking one room at a time and trying to make each room perfect. And so this is the room we're concentrating on now with just the right furniture. And I painted the whole room and just the right colors and such. And, but my wife and I couldn't quite agree when it came to artwork. And so we both compromised, and I got this, this painting by, uh, uh, Christoff, uh, Kiski. Some, some older poles might recognize him. He used to be well known for his, his short films in the seventies and eighties. But he's a professor at the, at the Academy of Art here in Crackle, and I think he did this one series of paintings, which is based on crows. And I think they're just charming and one of. Is, it's just a table, a really plain table standing out in a field of tall grass, and the grass takes up almost two thirds of the picture. So it's just the sea of grass, every single blade painted. And on top of the table is just a scattering of tomatoes, two Campbell's tomatoes, soup cans, like Warhol, you know, get it, get it. Not too subtle there. And one crow just walking across the table with one leg up in the air on, on, and, and, and the sky is just a flat, but really warm gray, like, like the coat of a gray fox. And, and I love it cuz it's playful, but it's, it also fits the room so nicely. And, and so my favorite place to have coffee now is on the, is in the armchair, on the opposite side of the room. So this is what I look at every morning when I'm having my coffee. Okay. Yeah. So yeah, it's, it's, it sounds as beautiful as it looks , so I think that you provide the best possible experience for our listen. So I hope it sounds good. We're doing an experiment this week, listeners and I, and I hope you will forgive us for this, but I'm recording from home, which is not something I've done before. I don't have this room outfitted as a studio, so I don't have, I don't have my base traps, I don't have all my acoustic panels and such, but it, it, it was just becoming so challenging to any time that we had to make a podcast, I had to stay in the office till seven or eight o'clock at night. And I've got a one hour commute to get home. And so just not seeing my family on podcasting days. So we're experimenting with recording from home on Sunday mornings when it's quiet. And I hope the sound is good if, because, you know, this is the room that we're trying to make. Perfect. And so I don't think my wife would agree to base traps and acoustic panel. I don't think she'd agree to turn her perfect tea room into a, a recording studio. Yeah, that's, that's, that's true. Unless maybe they have beautiful art on them, you know? So if you , if you find like a perfect acoustic, uh, panels and with some beautiful art, maybe that could be a compromise. But I think that it's too much to ask. But to be honest, Paul, you sound beautiful. And even one of my colleagues, he started listening to our podcast and he was telling me, wow, Paul has such a beautiful voice. And I said, and me, yeah, you sound good too. . It's, it's just a good microphone. Yeah. It's, yeah. Yeah. No, but it's, it's good. I, I, I hear you perfectly, and I'm very happy for that. Lovely. So we've got another apology for our listeners today, and that is that you are not getting what you expect. I mean, if you're a regular listener, you came here expecting us to talk about one book. We said we would talk about today and we read it. We're not lazy. We read it, but we're not talking about it. And that's because for, for over two years now, we've had this format where we read a book and the next podcast we interview the authors, and then we read another book. And then the next podcast we interview the author. And we didn't wanna break that format despite the fact that we're having some scheduling issues with the authors. So we've swapped our books and the book we were going to read for this month, we're pushing forward by two months, which should give plenty of time to sort out scheduling issues with the authors. And instead we're going to read the book. We're going to talk about the book. We, we already read it, that we were planning to talk about in our next series. And, and I'm really happy we did because I really enjoyed it. I really, really enjoyed it. It's, it's another book from Sense and Respond Press. And those of you who follow me on Twitter, not Twitter, I don't use Twitter. Those of you who follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter is. A nightmare. Oh my goodness. No, I don't go there anymore. No. But those of you who follow me on LinkedIn know that, uh, I've been talking about publishers a little bit and I've come to the point where I trust authors. Like if an author wrote one good book, their second book is probably good too. That's not always true. But I've also found after doing a lot of reviews of books, that there are certain publishers that just don't publish junk. Yeah. And they're not what you think. You, you might think, well, you know, O'Reilly, that's a very, very reputable publisher, Wiley, that's a reputable publish publisher, Prentice Hall, that's a reputable publisher. But my experience with reputable publishers is they get some really good contracts. They get some really good writers who write some really good books, but they're also competing with each other. And so this, there's this kind of me too thing going on. So if something is big in the, in an industry like Kanban, Prentice Hall has a Kanban book and Wiley doesn't have a Kanban book, so we just need to find somebody to write us one. So we have something in our portfolio and, and because of the volume that they do, it's hit and miss with the big publishers. But there are a few small publishers. That are really focused on the craft and pragmatic press is one of them. I think I've only ever read one book by Pragmatic Press that was a little bit wonky. Um, Lou Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Media doesn't publish a bad book. The, the books are incredibly well written, incredibly well edited. They're all unique material. No me too stuff in there from people who are leading in those fields, including some edge case stuff. The kind of things that wouldn't normally be published by mainstream publishers, but are really interesting to the right people. And another one that we've recently discovered, I guess we didn't discover it recently because I, I didn't realize when we read, um, hired Women Hire Women, that that was our first, uh, toe dip into the waters of Sense and respond press. But now we're reading our third book by Sense and Respond Press, uh, the, the. When we talked about earlier, the, um, um, outcomes over outputs was also a sense and respond book, and now we're reading another sense and respond book and, and sense and respond. It does, does a few things that I really appreciate. They focus and so they, they talk to people like Houston and I, and if you're listening to this podcast and you like the books you read, we read, then they, they may very well speak to you as well. So they're not all over the playing field, but they do two other things that are really interesting. They, they write books that are the right length. And we've seen, and I've talked about it on this podcast, sometimes a person will have a 50 page idea and the publisher says, we're not paying for less than 150 pages. And so they give them 150 pages. There was one early book we talked about. Um, I'm not gonna mention the book because I'm gonna say something mean, but I mentioned it in the podcast. There's one book that I, I, I literally made fun of by reading out loud every second sentence to illustrate how if you eliminated randomly half of the sentences in the book, you'd get a better book. But Simpson respond, press doesn't do that. Their books are short, and they even, they, they, they play it up. It's, it's, it's a feature. And, and the cover of every book, there's a little, um, a little icon similar to the icon that you see on the front of a package of pasta that tells you how long to boil it. That tells you exactly how long they think it's going to take you to read. And, uh, and they're short. None of these books take more than an hour to read. But, but they're, they're pragmatic and they're to the point, and there's not a word wasted. And so for busy people who just need to tackle a single problem, like, like how do I change my focus and start producing better outputs? How do I make my people feel safer and more comfortable expressing and being themselves at work? How do I hire more? If you've got one problem to solve and, and you want a quick solution, I check sense and respond. Press first to see, and then they're, they don't pay us anything. This is not an advert . I just really like their stuff. But you know, Paul, I had this, I had this similar part of my elevator pitch as well. I know that you didn't jump into elevator PG yet, but I, you know, I love the book as well and I love that it was short and I bought yesterday three other books from their publishing house because I was like, wow, that's so amazing to really. Make the idea in so few pages that you can, you know, really remember. And like, if you would look at my, at my book, like, it's so colorful because I used highlighter all over the time. So it's like the whole book, it's like a huge takeaway. But I think that it's so valuable that, yeah, I, I can't wait to read all of those, uh, three book. It would be probably just three hours of my life, but the best spent because I had the problem that I didn't remember. You know, so many things from the books that we, that you know, that, that, that we read because they were so extensive. It was hard to focus. But thanks to sense and respond, I can remember more and I can influence my work even better. And so, so what did we read for this podcast? Yes. So yeah. So this post podcast, uh, we are reviewing a book of Ala Weinberg, a Culture of Safety. And as you already said, it's a short book, it just 64 pages. So I think if I ever come across a leader who tells me I don't have time for safety at work, or it's not my responsibility, and I hand him this book and he says, oh, I'm not going to read it. It's too much. I will just quit the job because this is so important topic for me and I think for everyone and safety at work, it's that common responsibility. It's a shared responsibility for everyone at the team. And what I loved about the book, it doesn't only say about, uh, emotional safety, but it also touches the topic of the physical safety, of the psychological safety. Apart from explaining things, giving examples from the field, it also brings some ideas. And exercises that everyone in the organization can do. And it doesn't take, again, it doesn't take hours. It doesn't takes like hiring a special coach from the safety and having the training from safety. No, it just takes time to observe how your organization work and calmer from, from the perspective of place that you want to build a safety culture. So to be honest, again, I regret I didn't read this book like long, long time ago, and that this topic was also neglected by me because it's so important. It's so important in innovation, it's so important in every single organization. So I recommend this book literally to everyone. But in the first, if I would have to choose the first early adopters of this book, I would say leaders who are trying to build organization or who are trying to build a company culture and think that putting the values on the wall means that those are the values of the organization. No. . Yeah. And you know, that was one of the things that, um, it's hard to be frustrated with a book that's only 50 pages long because the frustration doesn't last long. Yes. , the book doesn't last long, but, but one of the, the frustrations I had with this book is that I did feel that the message was very universal, but it's directed specifically to leaders without really defining what a leader is. And, and I think if she had added one more chapter in this book that might be one that she might add, which is who are you? And, and, and how do you define, how do you define leadership? How do you define what a leader is? Because it's, it's written towards leaders. And so you read this book and you think, this is a book I should give to my boss, not for me. No matter who you are, unless you're the CEO of the company, there's always somebody above you. And if you're dealing with issues of psychological safety at work, then, then obviously this is a book you give to the people up there. Right. But as I was reflecting on it, And, and after I finished the book, and I, and I realized, uh, especially when I got to the, the, the really meaty bits at the back where, where there's the very specific practices, I started thinking about my own experiences. I have never been in an organization in which I experienced psychological safety in general, but I have always in every organization had pockets of psychological safety. Well, do you like reading, reading this, for example, and reading the, the, the descriptions of psychological safety. I can think about an organization that I was in, in which I did not speak up if my boss was in the room. I never criticized anything. I didn't take risks and I didn't express my feelings. But if that, my boss wasn't in the. There were people, groups of people, not just, not even random groups of people, like a friend here and a friend there, but a team that when we walked into our team room and closed the door for retrospective, I felt this enormous sense of relief. And, and in that room I was myself, and those people knew me and I was creative and, and I could think, well, and, and I can, I can imagine that would be frustrating for my boss. My boss would be like, these people seem to like Paul, but I don't see what they get in him. Mm-hmm. . So, so what, what's going on here? What are they seeing that I'm not seeing? And what, what, what, what, what they're seeing is me. And, and some people will never see me because of the way they treat me. And, uh, so, so that made me realize that while this book and, and I'm getting to my elevator pitch, is definitely pitched at Leaders, I would take a broad definition of leadership. And suggest that if you are in a. In which you have the ability to facilitate on any level. Like if, if you facilitate even just one meeting for your team, if you're the person who facilitates the backlog refinement sessions, or if you have one-on-ones with anybody and you've, you play a facilitation role in that one-on-one. If you mentor anybody, if there's, even if it's not something formal and official, like, like in my, my, my present workplace, one of my favorite places is an informal group that is based around lean and agile thinking. A group of people who just came together and formed this little club. And that's one of my favorite places to be where I feel most comfortable and secure. So even if it's an informal grouping, if there's a place in which you have some influence over the way that interactions are structured, the way that meetings are structured, then you're going to find something very, very useful in the half hour that you spend with this book. But you know what, Paul, like, uh, while you were talking about the recipient of the book and, and leaders, I was also thinking about, uh, everyone in this sense that I think that sometimes people blame themselves of not delivering at their best. You know, uh, like sometimes they feel like, oh, why I cannot be like that in this meeting, or, you know, why I didn't say this and that, and they put blame on their self. So I think like that's the reason why I said it would be good also for the regular employee, you know, disregard if they're in the leadership position to read this book, to understand that it's not them, that sometimes it's the organization and the culture that they are put it in just to have a little bit more context. But without far, but there, I'm gonna disagree with you before you move on there, I'm gonna disagree with you. Um, I like the book, but I think. I believe the author missed an opportunity there because the thing that was frustrating me as I read this book, especially as I am not presently in a position that I would describe as a position of leadership, my job literally is coach, which is kind of the opposite of leader. So my frustration was that a person who, as you describe, is in this position, may just find themselves frustrated to learn that it's not their fault, but there's nothing they can do about it. There, there is, um, in some of the books that we've read, the authors have taken. An effort to identify how those ideas can be applied at different levels of the organization. And probably just because it's a very short book, it it, it's targeted at leaders who want to create psychological safety. It's not targeted. People who aren't leaders or people who don't care about psychologically safety, it's a very, obviously you have to cut a lot out to make such a targeted book. But what this book doesn't cover is what do you do if you're scared at work every day? What do you do if you feel that clenching in your stomach whenever a certain person walks into the room? There's no advice on that whatsoever. So a person might just feel helpless and if they are like some of the people she describes in this book, people who literally are afraid of losing their job, simply quitting may not. Something that they perceive as an option. And so I, I, I, I think if somebody said, you know, I feel miserable at work and nobody listens to me, and I just feel like I'm curled up in a ball every day and, and I'm, I'm just a shell of a human being. There are things I might recommend to them, but this book is not one of them. I might send a copy to their boss, but I wouldn't recommend it to them. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, I see your point. But now let's move to your elevator pitch, because we already had like the rein intro to your elevator pitch. , I feel like we both danced Yeah. Because in, in that whole dialogue that we just did, we just described what was good about the book and who it was for, and who we would recommend it to. So, um, yeah. In a nutshell, my elevator pitch is anybody who is in a, in a position in which they have some kind of ability to. To create an environment for people, not necessarily for all the people, even just for some of the people. If you have some influence over your environment and you want to create a space in which people can do their best, then there are some very concrete, simple to apply practices in this book that'll be helpful for you. And that's, that's my elevator pitch, shortest elevator pitch I've ever done. , yes. As simple as that. So let's move then to the favorite, uh, takeaways. So maybe I, I will start, please. . So, so, so the first one is like, no safety equals to no transparency. . And I believe that as you, Paul already said, uh, a few minutes ago, like many of us, and I would even be confident that every single person experienced one time in their life the situation where they didn't speak up because they didn't want, they didn't want that, they didn't feel safe enough. They, they just didn't. And I'm sure that there were people who are like afraid on the daily basis to. Express their concerns and work. And that's, and that's very bad, but that's very bad. Not only for those people who are in this environment that that's very bad for the organization because we have no transparency. And what the did, she gave two examples that I believed that we already saw in the different books, the Boeing 7 37 and the Nokia. So in both, in both of those cases, people inside of the companies, inside of the organizations, they, they had the bad, the news. Yeah. They knew that things are not going the way they should, but they didn't feel comfortable enough to, to, to share. They were not in the position of, uh, of power. They were not in the position of change. They just simply fa fade way. And I remember when we were reading Team Mastery by Jeff Watts and he mentioned that there is a good exercise that you can do with your team. It's like a definition of a good mistake. And I, I was thinking about that idea as like, wow, that's a great help for teams to. Encourage them to make mistake, encourage them to say, you know, bad things. Because if, if you see in your organization that people are just silent in the meeting, it doesn't mean that they agree with you . It doesn't mean that you had like the best presentation in the whole company. It doesn't mean that they agree with your, if you, with your roadmap, with your, your strategy. I believe that you have to just stop for a second and think why no one speak up. Because the problem might be even, uh, maybe even, uh, deeper. And I remember that once I had the situation that we were working on the, on the OKRs for, for together with the team, and there was one very exciting, uh, very exciting objective. Yeah. And I was expecting that one of the developers, he would love to do that. Yeah, because it's something new. It's something shiny. But no one wanted it . And then I started like questioning like, why is that? Why, why, why, why no one wanted it. And after some conversation, I realized that there was not because they were, you know, lazy or they didn't want to do another new thing, it was because they had such a traumatic experience from the past when there was the new idea that they just felt overwhelmed of the ownership of another new great idea. Mm. So I really think that. We should take more time inside our organization on observing what is happening in the room instead of being so biased and taking silence as a sign of agreement, taking no initiative as, uh, people not being enough. Uh, entrepreneurship, you can say like that entrepreneurial is the word. Yes, exactly. Beautiful. But, but really observe and question this more with yourself, uh, or maybe even, you know, ask other people, uh, what could be the reason of that, uh, uh, situation indeed. That, that's something similar that I noticed that, uh, she wrote was that you should be suspicious of any meeting in which the leader does most of the talking. Mm. Yes. And because what's the point of calling a meeting if you're just going to be communicating information in one direction? Mm-hmm. . Right? I, and, and, you know, I've got some sympathy. I've got a lot of sympathy for leaders. I think that, that one of the reason why this happens, why, why leaders come into a meeting and do all of the talking or, or dominate the situation is fear. I, I think a, in an organization in which fear is prevalent, leaders aren't immune to it. They, they experience it as well. And so I, I think it's not uncommon for a leader to be really afraid of not looking like she knows what she's doing, not looking like she has a plan, not looking like she's got everything under control. Mm-hmm. . And it's a lot easier. I mean, I know this, you know me, I, I, I'm, I like one on one conversations and I like speaking from a. I love speaking on the stage cause everybody has to listen to me. I am completely a hundred percent in control of the conversation when I'm standing on the stage at a conference. And, and I think that it's the same thing sometimes when you get a leader who is, is faced with a whole sea of faces of people who, who report to him or her. And they're all really intelligent, competent people, and any of their ideas could be incredibly threatening to an insecure leader. And leaders don't, aren't insecure because they are fundamentally insecure people. They're insecure because they're working inside an organization in which they're exposed to the same kind of psychological torment that they're, they're subjecting their employees to . Mm. That's, that's, that's true. But then Paul, like, uh, what is your takeaway? Uh, okay. I, I have two sets of takeaways. Mm-hmm. , I've got maybe three sets. I'll, I'll, I've got three sets of takeaways and I don't wanna dig too deep into them because it was a really short book, and if I share all of my takeaways, I will have shared the whole book. But they, they tend to fall into three categories. One of them is just clever observations that I liked. Others are new concepts that I haven't encountered before that could be useful. And then others are specific practices that I really like to try. And I think I'd like to, to start on that high end of just some of the, the clever observations I haven't encountered before. And there are a lot of them, but I'm gonna start with one that. Just hit me right in the heart. And that was when she was talking about emotional safety and, and about the, how emotions are valid and appropriate and part of human experience. And, and you cannot, you cannot leave them at the door when you go in at work and still be a full person. She didn't say that, but I know that she would agree with me on that And, and one thing she said is, is that, um, you, you've, you don't have emotional safety if your employees are going into the bathroom to cry. And that got me. And the reason it got me is, number one, it's a vivid image of crying in a bathroom stall. But the other is, I was reflecting on the fact that I am a middle aged, upper middle class, highly educated, very successful white American male who doesn't cry easily. And I have cried in bathroom stalls at work. And if I do it, how common must it be? For people who don't have such an enormous position of privilege in the workspace as I do and as a leader, if, if you can imagine your employees crying in the bathroom stall and not feel an impetus to change the way in which interactions happen in your workplace, then maybe you're a monster. Mm-hmm. . But you know, Paul, I felt, I felt similar because I also joined the, the club of crying in the bathroom, and I had the similar reflection once because I thought, If me and I, and I see myself perceive myself as pretty strong person is pushed to this situation, I have to do something to change the, the organization culture, because I'm sure that it happens for other people too, who has even like, you know, less to say, I don't want to say like, let's to say, but for example, uh, you know junior people Yeah. Or like interns. Like, I was like, wow, what has to happen for them if I am on such a. And, and you know, that's a big thought because as, as she points out in this book, and a lot of people have pointed out as well, when you're, you're deep in the grip of an emotion is a time when you're not particularly good at thinking. And so I can't imagine anything that would make a person feel more alone than crying in a bathroom stall. Hmm. . And to be crying in a bathroom stall and thinking about other people, that's, that's a pretty big thought to have in the bathroom stall with tears rolling down your, your cheeks, . Thank you. I'm very proud of that stool. But, but you know, there was something that jumped also at me when I was reading about this emotion because, you know, I've heard so many times leaders, managers telling the, the sentence, you are too emotional, or, you know, this person is too emotional. Yeah. They have the burnout, not because they organization culture, it's pushing them to burn up, but because they're too emotional, it just, whoa. It's just so unfortunately common. But there is a beautiful quotation that I will just jump in. . What she says is, every emotion has an information for you. And I think as, as a leader, um, if you observe. Like the emotion rainbow in, in your employees, you really should try to spend some time and decode them to see where do they come from? Are there any common patterns? Is there anything for, for, for me, so this regard of thinking, wow, someone cries because they're not strong enough or any other, you know, silly, silly beliefs that you, you might have take your time to decode and see, uh, why they do it and what is there for you. And that brings me to another takeaway. Um, not the one I was planning on choosing the expert. It's a perfect segue and that is what can you do? One, one thing that, and this is, this is actually not just a thing that, that leaders can do. This is a thing that anyone can do and it's, it's based on a very, um, standard coaching practice. But the idea is to, to take an idea one, that one that sounds attractive to. And she's got a list of suggestions in the book. Things like take an idea like everyone around me is doing their absolute best, for example. And then of each thing you do, and of each thing you say, ask of yourself, what would I do in this situation? What would I say in this situation if I truly believe that everyone around me was doing their very best? And just keep doing that. Keep pretending as though you believed a thing until you eventually believe it. Mm-hmm. . And that's something that, that is somewhat empowering. Mm-hmm. , because I'm thinking about it from the point of view of, of that poor employee who feels like, like they have no voice, they feel stressed out, they feel, um, powerless and helpless at work. They can use the same kind of technique. Like, how would I talk to my boss? If I really believed he cared about my feelings, and it, one could very well find that, that your fear is thinking you into a corner and that there are, you have more power than you think you have if only you, you practiced exercising it. And, and the ability to express your needs and feelings clearly to another human being is a power. How they receive it is their business, but the ability to, to. To communicate clearly what your needs and feelings are is a power that anybody can, can develop. And if that's not a power that that moves things in the way that, that, that they ought to be moved, then it, that, that's a really, really strong indicator that something else needs to change. And Paul was so beautiful that you might be cry . You keep making me cry on podcast, but and I had like a perfect thought, uh, for, for that. And now I just for forgot, but give me one second. . I'm sorry. No, you don't have to be sorry. Um, Yeah, but you know, that paragraph in the book reminded me something that you read before and I cannot remember the title, but one of the outers said like, you know, people are not evil and you have to think that everything they do, everything they say, it comes from the good place. So it's something that I even like have like a sticky notes in front of my desk already, I think for more than a year. That sounds like this person has good intention. It comes from the good place and wow, that really helped me on the daily basis to don't, you know, perceive everything as, you know, attack or something, you know, being mean, but whatever. But really try to put my mind energy and focus on, okay, she exploded. Yeah. Because she cares so much. Yeah. Or like, he was like that because of this and that, and that, uh, helps me to bring, build a better picture of those people in my head because they are good people. But this regard of me crying and this another, another, uh, little, uh, segue. Segue is a good word. There. There was one part of the book that made me like, frustrated, furious, and exploded. And I was thinking like, wow. Now I understand why Paul sometimes has his runs during the interviews about something that he feels like very passionate about, because that's the topic that I could have it too. So pushing people to be in the survival mode, creating this feeling of the burning platform and saying, Pressure is a strategic choice. Things like that. When I see them, when I hear them, I just want to explode. Not because it's only pushing people to their boundaries, but because it's like, sorry for saying that. Simply stupid. When you think about the business outcomes, it's so short sync, you know, thinking that I have to stand in front of people and just, you know, scream at them and, or like, you know, cheer them and tell them that if, if we don't deliver that, so today it will be like the end of the world. It's not going to be the end of the world. We don't work in the, you know, in the ambulance. We don't save the lives on the, on the daily basis. We have to. Give people time to think because only like keeping them in this survival mode and saying like, mm, we don't want the teams to be too chilled because they don't deliver. It just makes me explode and I'm terrified because even right now, even nowadays, I keep hearing those things. I keep hearing those things from my, from my friends, from from, you know, during the conference. And it's terrifying that after, you know, industrial revolution, when people were really thinking about other people as brainless and wanted them, you know, to keep brainless and thinking that they are just the element in this big machine. It still happens. It still happens in the knowledge world and it happens in it where you would say, Hmm, it's a great market. It's so competitive. Companies have to treat people, you know? Wonderful because it's so hard to hire and this regard of that, we still keep seeing that. And that's, um, Wow. And, and that analogy is so striking because truth be told, firefighters who put out fires in buildings and, and paramedics who drive to emergency scenes and ambulances have much more emotional support structures than your average office worker. Yes, exactly. They are not running around panicking. They're doing the opposite of that . Yeah. And they are not all the time in that, in that mode. Yeah. Because like I, I think like Paul, it's something that you told me one time. If you are all the time in the position of danger, at some point it doesn't feel like a danger anymore. You don't feel, you know, , you don't feel it because you are not capable of staying at that state on your mind. You just get used to, you just get, we just got used to, to, to covid. Yeah. We are not panicking anymore because that's how we adapt. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. The human mind can't, can't, uh, live with a constant state of stress if this is a burning platform. Thank goodness. Because just imagine how cold it would be if it hadn't been burning for all this time. . Yeah. How boring it would be every single week. I wouldn't have to deliver that because that would like, you know, destroy our company. Yes, indeed. But oh, whew. That can get me. Um, really, uh, And, and, and that relates directly to another one of my favorite takeaways, which is when she was talking about, about the legacy of Taylorist thinking. And I don't like slamming on on Taylor because he was not a bad guy. He was a very compassionate person who was mostly trying to look after the best interest of workers. And people forget that. But when she was talking about the legacy of Taylorist, think. And keep in mind this is, this is a guy who was trying to increase productivity with a workforce full of untrained people who didn't all speak the same language. Yes. So some of these factories had had employees who spoke a dozen different languages. That's not what we're dealing with here. Um, one of the things that she pointed out is, is this, this legacy of Taylor's thinking is when we were talking about things like productivity and performance, when what we really want is creativity and quality. And in the it sphere, I mean, you know that I ran a, a, uh, software house for over a decade. And so I built start to finish over a hundred. I think I counted over 150 web and mobile startups and the number of clients who are looking for that magic feature that there's this one thing. And if we could just get this thing, it would become a unicorn and. And I see this so much in it, this idea that there's this huge backlog. And the best way to find the magic feature is to churn out as much as the backlog as you can, as fast as possible. A kind of shotgun approach. If we get enough features out there, one of them might be the magic feature, but the truth is the magic feature in a software project comes from creativity, not from productivity. You don't hire intelligent people and then work them under a whip. You hire intelligent people and create a space in which they think at their very best, and that's what creating a culture of safety is all about. So I what, what I really liked about that is that it's so natural. It's so natural in any organization to hear people talking about things like, like productivity and performance. Isn't that what, what agile coaches are all about? And then what bringing in Scrum Masters are all about and implementing Scrum is all about is is to improve productivity and performance. And you don't hear people coming in and saying, what was the most clever thing that your team did? This sprint? No. They say, what was your velocity? This sprint? Mm-hmm. , how much can you get done in the next sprint? Not what one thing are you doing in the next sprint that's worth. Yes, yes. Yeah. You know? Yeah. Yeah. It's, it, it, it's, it's crazy. It's crazy. But, but, but you know, like I was thinking about, uh, myself in the role of the product owner, and I always hated that name. You know, like somehow product owner, product manager, I don't feel like I own the, own the product. It's a team that owns, and last week I came up with the idea how I want to call myself product facilitator because, cool. Yeah. I was very happy to, because finally I felt like comfortable because I thought my role is to enable team to work at the best capacity capabilities. To deliver the things that can make our product better. And in order to do that, I'm also responsible for the culture that they are in. Because some people can say, if you are a product owner, product manager, leave it to the HR manager. Yeah, leave it to the ceo. But at the end of the day, I'm responsible also for that product. And I want to make sure that people who work alongside with me have the brand capacity and creativity and state of mind that enable them to do it on every single day. And, and I think that's why this is a really good topic for our audience because we're mostly not talking to senior leaders, I don't think, I know a few like C-level people who listen to this podcast, but I think most of them are scrub masters and team leads and, and product people and such. And like I was talking about earlier, you can have a really hostile, really toxic. Work environment, and you can still have people in that environment who create pockets of safety. And you can be one of those people. I mean, it, it, it's, it's great to aspire to to creating a whole organization, which is based on ideas of psychological safety. But, but if people don't have that, it's, it's more than enough to, to think that you could be the person who opens the door and says, okay, let's start this backlog, refinement session. And as people file into the, the, the room that you're about to facilitate the meeting in, they all just decompress as they step in. It's like, ah, , this backlog, refinement. That's my safe space. . Mm-hmm. . And you can be that for somebody. Yeah. I really love, uh, how you created this term safety pocket. I didn't hear it before. Maybe it's not your term, but I really it's the first time I, I hear it actually. But you know, I can steal the floor for the next takeaway. So culture is not about values. When I read that part, , you know, that sentence I was like, Oh wow. That's so interesting. And that's so true. And then I immediately started thinking about the systems thinking and systems functions. Function is not what is described, but what it actually performs. What, what, what the system does. It's the function. Yeah. So putting those beautiful values on the wall, does it mean that your company will be transparent, equal , you know, friendly environment, you know, for, for, for everyone. Because if that would be true, if the company culture would, would reflect on values. Wow. Then I don't think that you would have a reason to have a podcast because it would be like, you know, just the contest of my company, it's has a better safety culture than, than yours. And, and things like that thing to say, , I'm safer. . Yeah. But, but you know, it's at, at the same, at the same time. I also feel. Sympathetic towards all of the leaders because. It's so hard, you know, it's such a huge responsibility to, to create the culture. But also what she says in the book, it's that the company culture starts from the relationship that you have inside of the organization. So if you want to know what your company culture is, you have to start looking, but the relationship of the individuals inside your organization, because that speaks up. So something that I think you were also PO saying and we read in the book, like if you go into the new company and you see that no one is talking because everyone is so busy working. Yeah. You know that there is a problem. Yeah. If you see that people just send like a random slack messages, like not even fully expressing the what, what they need because they don't have time, you know that there is a problem too. You know that it's so much, you know, pressure or, or if you feel like there's only one person all the time talking, you know that there are some other issues in, in your company culture. So I would suggest the same as the outer to really take some time and look at the relationships that we have inside of the company to look how people interact with each other and then ask your question, what is the culture? And maybe if you have, uh, the problem with that because it sounds a little bit abstract and I also felt it sometime that I want to help company to understand. What is their culture and maybe to improve it, but it's so abstract. And the outer actually, she gives a great exercise. So you can think about your company culture as a creature. Yeah. You can even paint it. You can even like describe it and then you can start asking questions to this creature. Like, you know, how strong are you? What is threatening you? And I think that that's a great thing that we can do with, with, with, with the leaders, for example. Or that it's great question that we can ask to, to our teammates, to, to, to people who work inside the organization, like using this, this metaphor and asking questions to this creature. It's such a fun idea. I loved it. You know something funny, this is, this is one of the reasons why we're great together, cuz we're so different. There are so many exercises in this book and most of those exercises are things I'd love to talk about as takeaways. But that particular exercise, I don't know if you can see in my book, I see. Underneath the exercise I just wrote, what the hell that was, that was the one exercise that I just thought was ridiculous, . And you loved it and I love it. So, okay. I will give it more credibility. If, if you think it's a great idea, then, then I will, I will try it. Because , because why did you put, what the hell I, I was trying to imagine doing it, and maybe it's because I'm not a very visual person. Uhhuh, . Um, I mean, I, I, I, I do a lot of thinking in metaphors and, but I'm, I'm much more likely to use, I'm more likely to use words. And maybe that's why I like poetry so much. I'm much more likely to use, use words or music in order to express ideas than, than something visual. And so the idea of trying to, to, and, and also, I mean to, to be fair. My background in training is an anthropology, and so I, when you say the word culture, my mind explodes with concepts and, and I do not have a simple understanding of what culture is. Culture to me is something that I spend six years of my life intensely studying, and so the idea of turning culture into a drawing of a monster , if, if, if, if any of my anthropology professors ever said, okay, so now that you understand culture, draw picture of it as a monster. I, I think I would drop the class, but I can see, I can see how somebody from a, who is more visual mm-hmm. and somebody who didn't have all the, the, the academic baggage that I carry. Could find that to be a useful exercise. Yeah. So I won't be, I won't be so dismissive of it. Yeah. Yeah. Paul, like you have a gift, uh, of this academic knowledge, but I also believe that sometimes it can be, um, very hard gift to, to, to carry because like, I, I believe, like maybe that's, that's assumption that, you know, for a lot of people like me, like, who have like a little. Simplistic thinking about the cultures, like, yes. Finally I can have something on the paper that they can, you know, see and their imagination can start working and seeing like all of those crazy things makes, made them realize and make the abstract conversation a little bit more understandable. But yeah, I understand your point. You know, this is, this is one of the things though, is, is that when, when a social scientist says culture is X mm-hmm. , then what they're saying is that within the context of this conversation, within the context of this study, this is the functional definition that we're using. And our theory is based around that definition. So, I'm, I, I, I, it's very different when a, a, I won't say non-academic, but when a non-social scientist says, culture is X or culture is, is not X, they're not right. And they're not wrong. Mm-hmm. , they're just cherry picking . No, that's true. That's true. And so, absolutely, yes. Culture is, values don't tell me culture is not values. But within the, within this context and within this conversation, thinking of of values as culture is not the most useful thing, um, because you don't have a lot of control. And that's what we're talking about in creating a culture of safety is what can you control what you can't control? You can control the rules that govern interactions. You can't control people's values. Mm-hmm. values are an emerging, emerging property of the interactions. and, and probably the single most important interaction that creates values in companies is the recruitment process. If you hire jerks, you get a jerky culture, . I mean, to put it simply, but, but, um, in, in the long term, the way to change a company's values is by changing the recruitment process. Bring, bring in people that ha that already espouse the kind of values you wanna have, and then create the kind of interactions that bring out to those values. But, um, but yeah. Okay. That's just a silly little rant and it, it's not really applicable to this book. It's absolutely fine within the context of this book to say that culture is interactions and it's not values. And, and as a facilitator you have a lot of control over interactions. She, she cites, uh, David Marquette's book about how he changed the way that, that people interacted with each other by changing the rules. I won't tell you what to do, you tell me what you intend to do. And then of course, he had a great deal of control over how he responded to that. So you can go in and you can, you can take David Marquette's approach and you can say, I'm not gonna tell you what to do. You tell me what you're going to do. And the person says, well, I'm going to deploy this to production. You still have a choice between saying, Hmm. Are, is there anything else you think you should think about before that? Is there anyone else who should know? Or you could say, are you nuts, , that hasn't even been test. Who made you lead architect. So, so just, just change. You have to change both sides of the interaction, obviously. Um, but, and then she has a lot of good advice for leaders about painful, difficult advice about how to respond to things that leaders would normally respond very negatively to, like criticism. I think she could have done it. He'd done an even more. Um, a stronger job of emphasizing that, especially in one of these exercises. Uh, what was the exercise called? It was, um, sparring where you actually invite people to criticize your ideas. Um, she said, approached that from a position of curiosity. I would, I would go a step further and, and suggest, especially if you don't have a lot of experience being criticized as a leader, if you go into a sparring session and you throw out an idea and you invite people to criticize it, If you don't have a lot of practice in being nurturing and creative and curious, your best move is probably just to keep your mouth shut and take it, and then go away and think about it for a while until the emotional content is processed, and then come back and tell people what you saw, which is what they're passionate about. I can see that you're really concerned about this. You must really care very much about this and, and have some clear idea about how you're going to, how, how, how all of that feedback is going to allow you to make a better decision. Because expecting, expecting a leader who's not accustomed to doing that to do it well when they're on the spot in real time is asking a heck of a lot of a person. Yeah, I was a little bit because leaders also can't think when they're scared. Yeah, yeah. Like I like the idea, but I was also thinking, wow, it has to be so hard to do. Right. I was a little bit, you know, skeptical because I was thinking in some of the environments that I know, it would be just a ego fighting. It would wouldn't spark, it would be like literally ego fighting. I'm more writer than you are, and the only way to keep that from happening, and I learn this in coaching, it's the hardest thing to learn as a coach. Or maybe it's the hardest thing to learn as, as. I, I can imagine that if I had taken up when, when I was coaching at the age of 20 or 30, it wouldn't be such a challenge. But at the age of 50, with the experiences I have behind me, most of the people I'm coaching are dealing with things that I have opinions about, things I've dealt with myself. And so the hardest thing in coaching is to not give advice. And the older and more experienced you get, the harder it becomes to not give advice as a coach. And so the easiest way as a coach to avoid giving advice is to keep your full mouth shut. You cannot do harm. If your teeth are together, , . And so I, I would, I would give the same advice to a, to a leader who is trying to learn how to take feedback, is to take it like, like go in, in advance and tell yourself, okay, so this is the format of the meeting. I'm going to express this idea. I'm going to ask people to criticize it, and the only words that are going to pass my lips from the time that I finish giving that idea is thank you. No matter what. I think, no matter what I feel, I'm only gonna let myself say thank you, no matter what I hear is probably a better way to go into it until you're good at it. Gritting your teeth, tears dripping down your face. Thank you for butchering. My best idea. Thank you. Yeah. I didn't sleep for a week to prepare that. And you get to not turn a party. It's the most stupid thing you ever. But thank you very much. It land in my feedback box, . No, but I mean you the time to process. Yeah, indeed. I've got so many more takeaways and, and there's some things that I wanna dig into a little bit. Mm-hmm. . Um, I, I would love to talk about the concept of code switching. I would really like to talk about the concept of code switching. She talks about it from, from a, a physical standpoint, from people who, who have, who might be targeted, um, by prejudice or, or even by, by, um, Subconscious bias because of their appearance. I'm very curious to talk about it from a perspective of non-physical, non-obvious things because I have a lot of experience with, with code switching in a neurotypical environment with non neurotypical, um, people who have a specific different issue in that when you look at them, they look perfectly normal. You can't know that they have different needs. You can't know that they have that, that, that, that there might be something going on there. Um, there's, there's other things I would really like to get into. Like all of these practical ideas, like she, she actually gives meeting formats. It's like these are some meeting formats that you can use to overcome, come physical safety. These are meeting formats you can use to overcome, um, um, lack of emotional safety. These are meeting formats you can use to overcome lack of psychological safety. But we don't have time for all of them in this podcast, so maybe we can, we can talk about some of this a bit deeper in the after show. Yes. Would that be good? Um, but I do wanna leave before we go into the favorite quotations, I wanna leave the one, one observation to kind of wrap up. And that is, if everything you've heard us talk about for the last 45 minutes or so sounds like not your organization, we don't have a safety problem. My, one of my favorite takeaways is that stress is a euphemism for fear. So if you think there's no fear, just a lot of stress, maybe meditate on that a little bit. Stress is the word we use at work to socially acceptably talk about fear. And if you are in a workplace that has no stress, congratulations and we invite You don't need any of this. Yeah. And we invite you for our contest. The safest company ever. So should we get into favor quotations? Yes. And I can actually start Please. So a lack of psychological safety creates one of the biggest threats to business health. And that was, I was saying at the beginning, uh, on our, of our podcast, that's, you don't even like have to like care for people if you are like this monster who's who doesn't care for people, but if you care about your business still, you have to put your time and energy into that. Mm-hmm. . And, and, uh, that's very similar to another thing she said elsewhere in the book, which is the biggest threat to, to an organization is silence. . So that that thing, that that thing that is created by a lack of psychological safety isn't, isn't something that you can, you can point to. It's not something that rears its ugly head. It's just silence. It's intelligent, creative people keeping their mouths shut is the worst thing that can happen. Great one. I like that. Um, another rather high level observation, but I, but I kinda like, I like the way the words played in my head and that is that certain groups of people add up to more than the sum of their parts. While others add up to less That, that kind of reminded me of this, this concept we came across in the book that we're gonna talk about next, which is, um, this idea of, of, uh, team collective, uh, um, what's the word? Cognitive cognitive load. Cognitive load team. Cognitive load. And I've never thought about this, but, but you, if, if one person's responsible for A and one person's responsible for B and you put them together in a team and the team is responsible for A and B, those two people can't handle the cognitive load as well as they could individually because now both of them has to, the A person, A specialist has to have a little bit of B on their mind. And the B specialist has to have a little bit of a on their mind. And, uh, and this is kind of similar, that it is possible if you in a poorly structured organization or an organization that has a, a toxic culture, you can actually combine. Good people together in such a way that they are less than the sum of their parts, and they'd be better off just working individually, which is a terrifying thought from an organizational design perspective. What's your next one? Uh, my next one. So without safety, we literally can't think. So I've, so I believe that if I would like to pitch culture of safety to any leader, that would be my elevator pitch for them to simply understand why it's important. Mm-hmm. . And, and my next, uh, uh, favorite quotation is rather longer one, but it's long one because it explains one of the reasons why that is true. And that is when we feel connected and secure in our interpersonal relationships, our nervous systems can relax, allowing us to access our intelligence because we are hardwired to belong to a tribe that can protect us from outside threats. And if we don't believe the people, I mean, this is not part of the quotation. If we, if, if we, if the things that we're seeing and hearing are communicating to the message to us that this is not my tribe and they will not protect me, then our nervous systems can't relax. And if our nervous systems can't relax, we can't think straight. We need to be in a tribe. We're hardwired that way. I love that. Mm-hmm. again, not strictly anthropologically. Correct. But still there's, there's, there's, there's, there's a kernel of useful truth in there that I, that, that speaks to me. I have one more that I think it's very important, uh, when it comes for the physical safety, because I think this one, it's kind of neglected. So our bodies have a form of knowledge that it's different from our cognitive brains. And I think that, uh, sometimes if we look like people are sick in the team, like so often, yeah. Does it also maybe give our, give us some information? Maybe they're all the time, you know, tired and they don't have time to take care of themselves. So our bodies, uh, also send us the message about the safety in the organization. So it's also a good indicator to pay attention to. Oh yeah, I'm, I'm reading for fun on the side. I'm reading a book by an anthropologist, um, who's a friend of a friend. And so, although I think I met him at a, at, at one of the, uh, ethnographic practices and industry conferences in London years and years ago, um, his name is Simon Roberts and he heard book called The Power of Not Thinking How Our Bodies Learn and Why We Should Trust Them. Mm. And and this is one of the things that it deals with is, is the way in which. Our body can send us signals about what's going on in our environment that aren't necessarily things that, that can be clearly processed by our brains. And there's a lot of things, not, not just just like the habitual muscle memory type things, but there's a lot of information that comes to us through our bodies and not through our brains. And, and this is a whole book about how our bodies learn and, and why the lessons that our bodies learn are just as important as the lessons that we teach our heads. So that might, that this, I, I might do like, like a, like a review of this, uh, the power of not thinking just as kind of a special episode for our patrons when I, when I finish it. But, um, I also had one last favorite quotation. Um, and that is, that is this, people who are scared about losing their jobs will prioritize the work that keeps them safe. You gotta think about that for a while. Know people come to work and, and they wanna look busy, but if they have a choice between doing work that is completely non-threatening, that allows them to sail under the radar and work that is creative and risky, and you hire them for their intelligence mm-hmm. how many people around you are not taking risks and, and, and doing the work that keeps them busy and, and useful to the organization, but definitely does not maximize their potential. Maybe it's because they're scared about losing their jobs. So that wraps up my favorite quotations. I've got so much more to talk about. We'll save that for the after show. I also have a lot of questions for the author, things I didn't wanna get into here because I wanna hear what he has to say about it before I go go expounding in the wrong direction or something, because of some misunderstanding. So I, I think I'm gonna have no trouble preparing for the interview cause I'm really eager to meet this woman. Not only does she just seem, she seem just nice as can be and really good at this thing. And I love, I love talking to coaches. They're so easy to talk to. But, um, also, she's, she is a, a non-social scientist, but very, very highly educated and specializing in culture and, and I'm, I'm not one of these, these PR social scientists who think that, that if you don't have a degree in anthropology or sociology, you shouldn't be talking about culture. I think some of the best, most clever ideas about culture come from outside of our discipline. And so I love it when people dig deep like that. Um, And, but, but she's also a native Texan like me. Oh, so, so make me feel a little bit closer to home. So I'm really looking forward to that interview next month. And then in the month after that, we will come back and talk about what we were planning on talking about this week, which is the book Team topologies. Indeed. And we've already gone really long, so I'm gonna wrap this up. I'm just gonna say thank you so much for being with us today. Audience, if you want to hear more, we sometimes publish extra stuff and, and we publish after shows on our Patreon channel. We'd really appreciate the support. We're still not break even on the cost of, of, of. Producing this podcast and, and getting nice shock mounts and such, so that use isn't, isn't thumping every time she picks up her coffee. You can help buy stuff like this for us and those so that we sound better and better Um, and then so we really appreciate our patrons and so we've got some extra content over on our patron account. And for the rest of you, we look forward to you joining us. Uh, next month when we're going to be talking to Ala Weinberg, the author of the book that we just read, A Culture of Safety Building, a work Environment where people can think, collaborate, and Innovate. So join us for the interview and have a lovely month. Until then, yeah, have a lovely alto. Bye bye. Goodbye.

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