Creating a Safe Thinking Culture with Historic Environment Scotland

Diversity and Inclusion
Leadership Development

In a groundbreaking initiative, Historic Environment Scotland partnered with Sustainable Pathways and West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC) to conduct a CPD Accredited Course titled "Creating a Safe Thinking Culture."

This programme aimed to instil psychological safety within teams and across the organisation to create an environment conducive to free thinking, better decision-making, and ultimately, enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Overview & Background

Historic Environment Scotland, a public body dedicated to protecting Scotland's past for future generations, recognised the need to develop a culture where team members feel psychologically safe to express their ideas and concerns. As modern workplaces evolve, the need for psychological safety — the freedom to take interpersonal risks without fear of retribution — has become increasingly crucial. The organisation understood that achieving psychological safety would be foundational to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and could lead to more effective teamwork and innovation.

To turn this vision into reality, a strategic collaboration was established with Sustainable Pathways and the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC), a body committed to fostering equality and reducing discrimination.

The partnership with Sustainable Pathways gives a new dimension to the equality and inclusion work of HES. It has sparked the idea of psychological safety and the importance of creating a safe thinking culture in the organisation to make our processes and procedures sustainable and inclusive. The teams involved in the Creating a Safe Thinking Culture session and the serious game development with Jamie and his team are already noticing a cultural shift.



Educate Leaders and Teams: Provide leaders and team members with tools to understand and instil psychological safety within their workspaces.

Enhance Communication: Teach the art of having open conversations without interruptions, ensuring everyone's ideas are heard and considered.

Improve Meeting Culture: Educate on how to run effective, inclusive meetings where each member feels encouraged to contribute.

Innovate Like Pixar: Introduce and implement Pixar's famous Braintrust approach as a model for running think tanks within the organisation.

Promote DEI: Through psychological safety, create an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just terms but practices that are lived and breathed every day.


A comprehensive CPD Accredited Course called "Creating a Safe Thinking Culture" was rolled out. The course consisted of multiple modules addressing different aspects of psychological safety and was facilitated by experts in the field.

1. Training Sessions: A series of interactive workshops for team leaders and members were conducted.

2. Real-time Exercises: Teams were given challenges that mimicked real work situations to put the theories into practice.

3.Resource Materials: Handbooks, cheat sheets, and templates were distributed to help participants implement what they learned.

Results & Feedback

Enhanced Understanding of Psychological Safety: There is now an sound understanding of psychological safety across various teams within the organisation as well as a recognition of how to develop it.

Innovative Solutions: Since completing the course across various teams, we have now begun to develop an innovative 'Serious Game' which has been piloted within HES with the intention of helping people better understand issues related to DEI.

Positive Testimonials: Participants praised the course for its practical approach, and team leaders reported greater ease in fostering open dialogue and collaboration within their teams.

Through this initiative, Historic Environment Scotland has taken a significant step toward transforming its organisational culture into one that prioritises psychological safety, innovation, and DEI. With the tools and strategies learned, the organisation is better equipped to face the challenges of the modern workplace.

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