Exponential Attributes: Autonomy

Autonomy is the forth Internal Attribute in the IDEAS acronym. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this and I suggest taking a look at the open source tool developed by the ExO Ecosystem. Also take a look at Exponential Transformation where you can learn about implementing Exponential Attributes in your current organisation.

The definition of autonomy is the right or condition of self-government. An organisation that practices autonomy is one that is self-organised with teams operating with a decentralized authority. In order to run an organisation with autonomy at the centre required a great deal of trust in the team and a very clear purpose. If you want to to have rapid innovation then autonomy is important in giving teams the authority to work and make decisions in the best interests of the organisation. In order to implement successfully you need to ensure that the organisation:

  1. has an MTP that is compelling and inspirational
  2. choses team members that are self starters who are passionate about the MTP
  3. has frameworks and tools in place that gives teams a clear understanding of the level of autonomy and how to operate and exercise accountability
  4. communicates effectively in a lateral and honest way.
  5. has transparent and data driven dashboards to insure everyone understands what is happening and how to improve.

Organisations can take on a number of different styles of “management” that work with autonomy and each of these topics can constitute separate blog entries: Agile, OKRs, Meritocracy, Holacracy, Black Ops/Edge Teams. For examples of organisations with a high level of autonomy check out Valve, MIT Media Lab, Pixar, Medium, Zappos, Morning Star Company, FAVI, share more in the comments.

In the rapidly changing environments that we find ourselves in, it is more important than ever to have autonomous teams of multidisciplinary people who are passionate about what they are doing and perform well with minimal supervision. It is a very different mode to what many large organisations are used but making the change is more important than ever. It needs to be performed with care to get it right but is vital… are you ready?

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