How we promote psychological safety to foster change.
(Hint: it’s much like you do.)
By Pablo Lombardo, MediSprout Product Manager
If you are a behavioral or mental health practitioner, you know from your training and experience that change happens when you and your patients clearly understand the goal, when your patients feel supported, and when your patients are confident enough around you to freely express thoughts and emotions that reveal pathways to improvement. The environment you’ve created for your patients is one of psychological safety. It’s within that environment where therapeutic alliances are respectful and strong, where breakthroughs emerge, and how better healthcare experiences happen for everybody.
At MediSprout, we’re also familiar with the concept of psychological safety. It is the bedrock of our most important core value—innovation—and critical to our mission.
Exploring new territory
There is no existing playbook for what we’re trying to achieve at MediSprout. We are pioneers in its truest sense. To change the status quo in healthcare, we have no other choice but to think innovatively. We must operate within a culture that fosters that thinking; where risk is unavoidable, experimentation is encouraged, failure is leveraged for its teaching moment, and learning is constant. An environment of psychological safety is paramount for the people we are partnering with to move us forward.
Indeed, many of the values that drive businesses and industries today spawn thinking that stands like a monolithic obstacle to innovation: fear of failure, dissuasion to think differently, lack of diversity, and little respect and support for other perspectives and ideas. Need a good example? Look no further than current healthcare systems. You would be hard-pressed to find an industry so lacking in meaningful innovation or more resistant to change.
Adapting to change
To say that times are different is an understatement. The digital revolution has accelerated technological development to a dizzying pace. All of which speaks to the need for another very important aspect of psychologically safe and innovative environments: agility.
Innovative and agile environments see no flinching at trial and error. Businesses that are successful today create safe and agile environments to help them test and learn faster so they can keep products and services current in ever-changing markets, if not get ahead of the curve. In psychologically safe territory, MediSprout teams adapt to change more efficiently which allows our teams to validate hypotheses and refine solutions at an accelerated pace.
The upside to a psychologically safe work environment goes even deeper. Want to encourage the development of people, ideas, and solutions? Keep those doors to the safe zone open. At MediSprout, we strive to help new team members feel included yet empowered to work autonomously; enabled to bring ideas and then be recognized for their achievements.
When it comes to innovation, it’s a wonderful thing that no two people are exactly alike. Each of us brings to the group a unique experience with varying skills and viewpoints. At MediSprout, and as with your practice, every person’s idea matters. Our experience is that inclusion and autonomy breed broader engagement and spark faster learning.
Owning the problem and the solution
To own success, you must own conflicts when they arise. Thankfully, individual and group confidence within a psychologically safe environment does wonders for conflict resolution.
Every two weeks, MediSprout teams meet for a retrospective to reflect on what went well, what needs improvement, what to learn from, and what to recognize for better or worse. There’s no finger pointing about issues that went sideways; just honest feedback and constructive and respectful group discussions that are run by receptive minds until the right path forward is found. In your practice and in our company, psychologically safe environments see conflicts resolve faster and solutions appear clearer.
Innovation means something to us.
The word “innovation” could not be a more overused word in marketing today. Often, it’s tossed into brand messaging and advertising in an almost obligatory sense with little thought as to what it means or why it’s important. The word has become so ubiquitous that it’s virtually void of meaning with many people.
At MediSprout, innovation could not be a more loaded brand value. To us, it is less of a marketing buzzword and more of an internal credo. It drives how we think, operate, and get to a solution. It’s our mindset. All our other brand values—honesty, collaborative, receptivity, empathy, and dedication—work to support our innovative culture. But it didn’t happen overnight. We first had to build and fortify a psychological safety zone, and then be mindful to maintain it. A set-it-and-forget-it function it is not.
In your practice and in ours, the right solutions and better outcomes don’t happen without psychological safety zones; where teams feel supported and problems and needs are understood; where the work is approached with curiosity and executed with agility, autonomy, and the confidence to experiment, fail, and learn.
It is where change happens. The good kind.