Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace: Encouraging Experimentation…And Its Results

Game changing innovations that alter the trajectories of businesses and the world in which we live can come from the mind of any employee at any time – but only if they feel comfortable, confident, and safe enough to propose them. While that may appear obvious, many companies view thinking that deviates from a consensus path as risky. Rather than establish an expectation of exploration and experimentation, they stifle innovation under layers of management and formalized review. Many organizations shudder at the thought of failure that might accompany pursuing a new, unproven concept, instead sticking with a myopic, short-term viewpoint that overlooks the longer-range potential for even greater success. 

At Expedition Technology (EXP), we are building a different kind of culture. One that embraces fundamental thinking using first principles, is unconstrained by “best practices,” encourages fresh and diverse perspectives, and anticipates the notion that there may be a better way. 

Think about it. Revolutionary research and development can deliver significant advantage, when accompanied by the exploration of uncertain outcomes. This should come as second nature to those who have adopted an Agile development model, but they often miss its connection and inherent relationship with experimentation. In these environments, organizations must not limit themselves to cherishing success. They also must accept and even reward failure. 

But does “failure” really even exist? Well designed experiments don’t actually end in failure. They may, however, produce unanticipated results that offer new information and insights that can be leveraged to reformulate candidate solutions. We celebrate and take full advantage of the associated learning. 

At EXP, we follow an experimentation approach that breaks large concepts and challenges into smaller components that pose relatively little individual risk. This makes it more natural to explore, test, create minimum viable products, and progressively build on them. In so doing, we consistently learn, make the necessary modifications, and push forward – while avoiding so-called “catastrophic failures.” 

At the end of the day, the psychological safety every individual at EXP possesses truly turbocharges our performance, and that’s what sets us apart from others who attempt to execute a process similar to ours. We steadfastly promote an environment of support and acceptance. We want all members of our team to feel comfortable stretching themselves, proactively offering their opinions, voicing concerns, identifying flaws, taking calculated risks, and expanding their minds – even when it means we must follow detours and recalibrate. 

Does our commitment to experimentation and the psychological safety that must accompany it work? Our customers seem to think so. We routinely hear that we produce high levels of efficiency and productivity that outpace our peers. But maybe you should find out for yourself – we’re growing rapidly, and we’re hiring