Psychological Safety =
Better Problem Solving

Psychological Safety is the key to successful continuous improvement

Organizations can build psychological safety by cultivating the right mindsets and behaviors within their leaders and teams. Creating the climate for improvements to occur begins with everyone in an organization valuing each other’s ideas and caring about each other’s well-being.

Psychological Safety is essential to any transformation.



An environment where team members feel safe to be vulnerable, express ideas, take risks, and learn from failure.


A shared belief held by members of a team that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for speaking up.


People feel empowered to suggest ideas, solve problems, and leave their work better than they found it.

Zones of Psychological Safety

The term “psychological safety” was devised by author and Harvard business school professor, Amy Edmondson. Psychological safety is crucial for teams to function well, learn from mistakes, and problem solve. Creating an environment with these elements requires a balance between psychological safety and accountability. Depending on how each element is balanced, an organization will typically find their environment in one of four zones.

Anxiety Zone

In the anxiety zone, people experience a high level of accountability and a low level of psychological safety. When mistakes are made, people fear blame, humiliation, or punishment. The common response is to avoid speaking up or taking ownership. Moments for learning or innovation are rare. 

Apathy Zone

In the apathy zone, people experience both low accountability and low psychological safety. There is neither repercussions when mistakes are made or a supportive environment for problem solving. This leads people to struggle with caring about their work.

Comfort Zone

In the comfort zone, people experience low accountability but high psychological safety. While people feel comfortable in their work environment, there is often no push for creativity or growth. 

Learning Zone

In the learning zone, people experience both high accountability and high psychological safety. People feel responsible for their actions while continuously receiving support from their team. This allows for risk taking, innovation, and a drive to do better work.

5 Ways to Help

Create Psychological Safety


Make psychological safety an explicit priority.


Equip leaders with tools and standards of behavior.


Make it safe to speak up and treat failing as learning.


Create space for ideas and outside of the box thinking.


Don’t just share ideas, test them, then test them again.

How We Approach Creating Psychological Safety

When employees feel safe asking for help, sharing ideas, and speaking up when they see a problem without fear of consequences, organizations are more likely to innovate and adapt to change by unlocking the creative potential of their workforce.

When organizations partner with us, they are often seeking to improve their results by solving a complex problem that is hampering their performance and pursuit of their most important goals.

When it comes to problem-solving we believe in acting as an “idea farmer”, helping to harvest the ideas that already exist within your organization.

To do that effectively, we believe there are three secret ingredients:

  1. Seek to improve the system, not just pieces and parts.
  2. Focus on engaging the hearts and minds of your employees. Give them permission to take risks and follow their gut.
  3. Go slow, to go fast. There are no shortcuts in improvement. When it comes to improving business results, the best thing you can do is make an investment in your people.

Talk to an expert and see how we can help

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