Learn to fail well with Thinkers50 #1 Amy Edmondson and her new book Right Kind of Wrong
They’re known as the “Oscars of Management Thinking” for honouring the most impactful management ideas in the world. And in 2024, our events program will feature not one, but the top 2 ranked thinkers in this year's Thinkers50 list.
With their fresh ideas and brand new books, Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School, who was #1 in 2021, again took out the top ranking in the recently-announced 2023 list, and Adam Grant, Wharton’s leading professor for the past seven years, jumped up four places to rank #2.
Who is Amy Edmondson?
We've previously published our favourite quotes from Adam Grant, so in this blog we ask "Who is Amy Edmondson?" Stay reading as we look briefly at Amy Edmondson’s profound work, and why she’s so revered in the global business community and beyond.
Fresh thinking and game changing ideas
Of Amy Edmondson, Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove told the November gala awards event:
“The impact of her work on psychological safety resonates throughout organisations around the world. And her latest book, Right Kind of Wrong, delivers fresh thinking on learning from failure – it’s going to be another game-changer.”
Indeed, the Financial Times and Schroders have shortlisted Right Kind of Wrong: Why learning to fail can teach us to thrive on its coveted Business Book of the Year list, with the winner to be announced on December 4.
This will decide which of the six finalists provide the ‘most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.’
Betterment of society at heart of research
At Harvard Business School, Amy Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, the 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’s fascinating and groundbreaking research about business success certainly has contributed to the betterment of society. She made it clear that, for businesses to succeed, people must feel safe at work.
In her book 'The Fearless Organization' she says if your people don’t feel safe to speak up, you may create an illusion of success that will turn to bite you later.
“Early information about shortcomings can nearly always mitigate the size and impact of future, large-scale failure,” she says.
Before we look more closely at Amy Edmondson's work, let me briefly share links to our exciting events with the two highest ranked speakers on the Thinkers50 list:
· Then, on February 20 and 22, we bring out Adam Grant to Australia for two-only, live, in-person events in Sydney and Melbourne. TICKETS SELLING FAST. BOOK NOW.
Fearful to speak up at work
While Professor Edmondson’s work was recognised as far back as 2011, it was in 2019 that she really hit the world stage with her book “The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth.”
Highlighting the enormous impact of employees being fearful to speak up at work brought her worldwide attention, especially since she claimed psychological safety was absent in most workplaces.
"Part of the reason is we human beings have very instinctive responses to hierarchy, and most organizational workplaces have hierarchies in them. We have instinctive responses to hierarchy that lead us to hold back, to be more engaged in impression management, how do I look?"
Professor Edmonson says that psychological safety does not mean that people always agree with one another for the sake of being nice. Rather, it's about candor, which is about speaking up about something that you think sucks.
“Psychological safety does not imply ease or comfort,” says Amy. “It’s learning from different points of view, and that comes from a willingness to engage in productive conflict and to speak candidly.”
Leaders are scary, but many don’t realise it
In our 2019 interview with Amy Edmondson, she told us how bosses were inherently scary.
"They need self-awareness, to begin with, because many leaders don't realize that they're scary, right? Even if they don't see themselves as scary, the position they hold, the role that they occupy, may have a silencing effect."
Interestingly, when asked by us to recommend a book, Amy Edmondson chose “Leadership and Self-Deception” by the Arbinger Institute. She said it had “powerful, powerful insights” into “our very spontaneous tendency to blame others when things go wrong and not necessarily see our own impact in it.”
Which brings us to her newest book, 'Right Kind of Wrong.'
Success through learning to fail well
In January 2024, we will again interview Amy Edmondson, to understand how we can “fail intelligently” as she discusses her book Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well.
She’ll explain the 3 archetypes of failure: simple, complex, and intelligent, and share some of the compelling stories in her book, which range from the history of open-heart surgery to the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.
Edmondson will also show us why the most successful cultures are those in which you can fail openly, without your mistakes being held against you.
At the heart of her research is the question ‘What if it is only by learning to fail that we can hope to truly succeed?’ and her answers will offer a whole new perspective that promises to transform how we approach failure in the business world and beyond.
Rare opportunity to ask Amy Edmondson your questions
Growth Faculty members will be given a rare opportunity to ask Professor Amy Edmondson their very own questions relating to fear, failing, and psychological safety in their own workplaces, or more generally. BOOK INTO THIS FREE EVENT.
Given the spotlight is well and truly on both Professor Edmondson and Professor Adam Grant right now, these are unmissable events on the Growth Faculty program.
You may also like to read: WHY 'WORKLIFE' ADAM GRANT'S TAKE ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY IS TIMELY FOR AUSTRALIA and 10 TOOLS TO DEVELOP PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY AT WORK
Invest in Your Learning With Membership to Growth Faculty
Want to keep up with the latest ideas and thinking from the brightest minds in the world?
Discover your potential by learning from the best with Growth Faculty annual membership.
· Unlimited access to dozens of live virtual masterclasses on trending topics around work, career, leadership, and culture; such as psychological safety, burnout, difficult conversations, strategy and execution, micromanaging, accountability and more, with opportunities to chat, ask questions of the speaker, and interact with your peers.
· Unlimited access to our multi-module leadership programs at both emerging and senior leader level.
· Discounts on tickets to be in audiences at our Global Headliner in-person events featuring top name speakers.