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  • Nicole Lisson

Why we practice Social Safety: required for agility

Updated: May 11, 2021

HBR April 19, 2021 refers to psychological safety “the belief that one can speak up without risk of punishment or humiliation — has been well established as a critical driver of high-quality decision making, healthy group dynamics and interpersonal relationships, greater innovation, and more effective execution in organizations.”



ecosystemiQ advocates social safety: the social environment of our ancestors. Small groups relied on each other: had each other’s backs; knew each other’s ability. A context in which people lived together in the dignity of contributing.


Imagine never having to worry whether you would have a job

or be taken seriously.


Social safety is critically important as we equip our communities and workplaces for continuing change. The pandemic shook us up. Shock waves will continue. Social safety is how we can ensure collective smarts and agility.


Social safety does not scale. It occurs among cooperating beings. You’ve likely seen footage of a zebra or antelope separated from its group. We mammals survive via our orientation to each other. Humans are especially well-equipped with robust neural pathways honed over millions of generations. We are simply not safe alone – much less on a tightrope.


Social safety is how our ancestors prevailed and how we can condition our people to meet the challenges of change with confidence – together. In the modern world, social safety has been proven in various forms of guided discovery. From quality circles to lean to agile, the value of [protected, ritualized] feedback loops is unmistakable.


Feedback loops provide mission-critical information that fuel agility. Our industrialized world was built for repetition. Few organizations are in shape to respond when value partners shift . Social safety is key to the smarts required to respond to change in a timely manner.


Harvesting lessons from the pandemic, re-setting our communities cannot rely on repetition. Change challenges us to find new ways to take care = add value. For that we need everyone dignified = able to contribute. Social safety can only be achieved collectively.


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