‘The only option is failure’: Growing safe to fail workplaces for critical reflection

Aliki Nicolaides*, Robert Frans Poell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The Problem
Whereas critical reflection has been the hallmark of learning from experience in the workplace, performance has been the hallmark for productivity. In the face of complex, ongoing, disruptive change, failing safe is a necessary condition for learning from experience, and critical reflection the method of learning from safe to fail experiments. How can workplaces be safe to fail spaces where critical reflection is embraced, encouraged, and rewarded?

The Solution
We focus especially on the role of the leader to create a climate of psychological safety where it is safe to practice critical reflection. The workplace needs to become a safe place to fail to facilitate productivity, innovation, and creative responses to the demands that ensue from disruption at work.

The Stakeholders
This article is relevant to human resource development (HRD) scholars and practitioners who are interested in developing the workplace in times of uncertainly and constant disruption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264–277
JournalAdvances in Developing Human Resources
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • WORK
  • critical reflection
  • experiential learning
  • failing safe
  • leadership
  • psychological safety climate


Dive into the research topics of '‘The only option is failure’: Growing safe to fail workplaces for critical reflection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this