Safety in Transparency

I’ve been continuing my studies on Scrum Theory to retake the PSM1 exam. Naturally, my head has been swimming with events, roles, and what have you. Lately, the three pillars of empiricism have really been the loudest in my head. My last blog post related to the transparency pillar, and while I’ve been carefully going through the Scrum Master Learning Path offered on, I came across a post that lead me to what I feel is a good follow up to Sunday’s post on transparency.

In his post, Forget building trust, focus on psychological safety, Stephan van Rooden introduces a concept that seems to be either overlooked, abandoned, avoided, or a combination of the three. While I do not believe that Stephan means to leave trust at the door, you cannot create trust if your workplace does not foster a community of safety. I believe in bottom-up modeling, which means that if you keep the lowest, most junior workers happy, everyone builds on this happiness and it spreads outward. This in turn leads to happy customers and stakeholders.

How does psychological safety lead to the pillar of transparency? In striving to be transparent, you are putting an innate amount of trust in the people you’re working with. Transparency means that your open door policy really is open door. Putting yourself out there as the person anyone can approach with ideas, problems, the need to rant, pictures of their new kitten – anything really – builds trust. Trust leads to value.

Valuable employees are who you want to work hard to keep around. If you cannot create a psychologically safe workplace, those valuable employees are going to end up leaving dissatisfied in their current career choice and are going to seek out a new venture to better meet their needs. Employment really is a two way street.

While the role of the Scrum Master might not be for everyone, every person could learn a thing or two about servant-leadership. How can you make your employees more productive? By removing any organizational impediments that would otherwise become an obstacle that cannot be overcome. Understand their roles in the organization and assist them in finding new techniques to help them work through impediments. Practice agility and be a true facilitator.

Employees are more than just a title. Each and every one is a unique individual with a history and a future. Employees are any company’s most valuable assets. Trust in them to grow and flourish. Provide for them a safe workspace where they can truly shine.

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