Air date: January 16, 2019
Amy Edmondson, PhD
With so much riding on innovation, creativity, and spark, it is essential to attract and retain quality talent—but what good does this talent do if no one is able to speak their mind? The traditional culture of “fitting in” and “going along” spells doom in the knowledge economy. Success requires a continuous influx of new ideas, new challenges, and critical thought, and the interpersonal climate must not suppress, silence, ridicule or intimidate. Not every idea is good, and yes there are stupid questions, and yes dissent can slow things down, but talking through these things is an essential part of the creative process. People must be allowed to voice half-finished thoughts, ask questions from left field, and brainstorm out loud; it creates a culture in which a minor flub or momentary lapse is no big deal, and where actual mistakes are owned and corrected, and where the next left-field idea could be the next big thing. The road is sometimes bumpy, but succinct and informative scenario-based explanations provide a clear path forward to constant learning and healthy innovation.
Amy C. Edmondson, PhD, is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, a chair established to support the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful enterprises that contribute to the betterment of society.
Edmondson has been recognized by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 and was honored with the Talent Award in 2017. She studies teaming, psychological safety, and leadership, and her articles have been published numerous academic and management outlets. She has published several books, including her latest “The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.”
Before her academic career, she was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked on transformational change in large companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller. Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, MA in psychology, and BA in engineering and design from Harvard University.
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