AMP I: Autonomy – What’s it going to take?

Daniel Pink describes Autonomy as our urge/ability to self-direct. Why is this significant?
– Because the collective sum of our knowledge, experiences and wisdom can generate impressive solutions to a problem and creative ways to address a situation.
– Because as human beings we each have our own quirks, work patterns and goals, and you cannot fit a square peg into a round hole.
– Because to do creative work, we need the time and space to step back, think and experiment, without our thoughts being drowned out or suppressed.

Lack of autonomy may be thought of as the imposition of a certain set of thoughts, solutions, work patterns or processes without regard for or consideration of other inputs. Lack of autonomy is the second most common reason people quit their jobs.

But its bigger than that. It also includes the lack of support to pursue truly disruptive and innovative ideas and goals. Shocking? Yet, it happens all the time. And it creeps into your organization without you even noticing or recognizing it. Soon, you’re carting your wagon full of commitments towards an oncoming train.

Some of the most significant commonplace things we use today are the result of the efforts of a small group of people and the disruptive ideas they pursued at a certain point in time. Want an example? Look here. So how do you take that and make it possible in a work environment that is constrained by the pressures of getting to market and delivering a packed list of features?

It actually takes a lot of discipline. It means
– Enabling an environment that supports the inception and development of disruptive ideas
– Supporting the time and resources required to pursue said disruptive ideas
– Appreciating and leveraging the experience gained, regardless of the outcome
– Supporting the sharing of information within the workplace to get different perspectives and gather traction

We’ve seen the likes of Google and Facebook support creative autonomy to some extent. But the question really is – how far can we push the envelope? How achievable or practical is 100% creative autonomy within the workplace? We haven’t solved this puzzle yet. Some of the most creative work is still being done outside the confines of the workplace. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


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