Amy C. Edmondson
About Amy C. Edmondson - Speaker and Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management:
Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. The Novartis Chair was established to enable the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful business enterprises for the betterment of society. Edmondson's research examines leadership, learning and innovation in teams and organizations, and has been published in numerous academic and managerial articles. Her book Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2012) emphasizes managing the activities that enable collaborative work across boundaries, rather than designing and managing stable teams. She is
currently studying collaboration across boundaries focused on innovation in the built environment.
Professor Edmondson teaches MBA and Executive Education courses in leadership, team effectiveness, and organizational learning, and a doctoral course in field research methods. She has served on 29 doctoral committees and is the author of more than 25 Harvard Business School
case studies, including cases on Arup, The Cleveland Clinic, General Motors Powertrain, Prudential Financial, Simmons Mattress Company, YUM brands, IDEO product design, and NASA's failed Columbia mission. In 2003, the Academy of Management's Organizational Behavior Division selected Professor Edmondson for the Cummings Award for Outstanding Achievement in Early Mid-career, and in both 2000 and 2012
she received the OB division's annual awards for the Best Paper Published in the prior year. Her article with Anita Tucker,
Why Hospitals Don't Learn from Failures: Organizational and Psychological Dynamics That Inhibit System Change received the 2004 Accenture Award for
Significant Contribution to Management Practice.
Before her academic career, Edmondson was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked with founder and CEO Larry Wilson to design and implement organizational change programs in a variety of Fortune 100 companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller, and her book, A Fuller Explanation, clarifies Fuller's mathematical contributions for a non-technical audience.
Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, AM in psychology, and AB in engineering and design, all from Harvard University.
Teaming: How Organizations, Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy
Continuous improvement, understanding complex systems, and promoting innovation are all part of the landscape of learning challenges today’s companies face. Amy Edmondson shows that organizations thrive, or fail to thrive, based on how well the small groups within those organizations work. In most organizations, the work that produces value for customers is carried out by teams, and increasingly, by flexible team-like entities. The pace of change and the fluidity of most work structures means that it’s not really about creating effective teams anymore, but instead about leading effective teaming.
Teaming shows that organizations learn when the flexible, fluid collaborations they encompass are able to learn. The problem is teams, and other dynamic groups, don’t learn naturally. Edmondson outlines the factors that prevent them from doing so, such as interpersonal fear, irrational beliefs about failure, groupthink, problematic power dynamics, and information hoarding. With Teaming, leaders can shape these factors by encouraging reflection, creating psychological safety, and overcoming defensive interpersonal dynamics that inhibit the sharing of ideas. Further, they can use practical management strategies to help organizations realize the benefits inherent in both success and failure.