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How Do Scrum & Kanban Create Psychological Safety?

When you first hear the term “psychological safety” it may conjure up strange images in your mind, like the title of a suspenseful movie or the act of protecting your brain from some imminent danger, but it is an important factor for teams. Edmondson (1999) described psychological safety as “a sense of confidence that the […]

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February 02, 2018

When you first hear the term “psychological safety” it may conjure up strange images in your mind, like the title of a suspenseful movie or the act of protecting your brain from some imminent danger, but it is an important factor for teams. Edmondson (1999) described psychological safety as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up.”

In Agile methodologies, the concept of psychological safety is critical; it is part of the underlying mindset shift. Without it, team members cannot grow, improve, or effectively change together. The core values and principles that define these methodologies cultivate the foundation of trust that provides psychological safety for team members.

Scrum creates psychological safety through its values; they create a shared basis of behavior for team members. Kanban creates psychological safety through principles that focus attention on the system and its evolutionary improvement. Although they foster a sense of trust in different ways, both approaches create psychological safety through core values and principles.

Safety in Scrum Values

The Scrum values of Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment and Respect collectively encourage an environment of trust. By embracing these five values, the team creates a safe space essential to its health and success.

Safety in Kanban Principles

Kanban principles emphasize evolutionary change, increasing the effectiveness of the current environment. This approach inherently provides psychological safety for team members by minimizing the uncertainty and discomfort of change.

Conclusion

Scrum and Kanban create different pathways to psychological safety, but both methodologies develop that sense of trust through the central values and principles that define them. The Scrum values of Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment and Respect collectively create an environment of trust. The Kanban Principles create psychological safety by creating an environment that fosters evolutionary change. Whether you leverage the Scrum values, the Kanban principles, or both, the psychological safety that you cultivate is critical for an effective Agile team.

Read More

This blog post is part of our “ Scrum vs. Kanban” series, triggered by a working session at one of Excella’s Agile Coaching Circle’s offsite meetings. We explored our experiences with and thoughts about the Scrum Framework and Kanban Method, identifying a series of themes that would enhance the knowledge and understanding of our colleagues. We are pleased to share those lessons with you.

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