It’s one of those words that come back over and over again in context of modern delivery approaches and organizational structures. The word seems common enough to mean approximately the same in people’s minds, however I have found that it is often confused for something else. According to Merriamm-Webster, autonomy is the quality or state of being self-governing. This distinguishes it from the term empowerment, which is the state of being empowered to do something. In other words, autonomy is an internal property - it comes from within -, while empowerment comes from someone’s approval.
Autonomous teams make their own decisions, they do it based on their objectives and all the relevant information they have available about the world around them. Empowered teams also are told to do exactly that. However, the scope of their decision making power - sometimes explicit, more often implicit - limits their autonomy significantly and can even shrink should a decision be made that does not align...
The past couple of weeks my children had to prepare and present short speeches at school. I encouraged them to practice and provided them some, what I considered to be, constructive feedback. However well meaning and positively framed, it didn’t go over too well. Watching my children learn to cope with constructive criticism reminded me about how we struggle so much with this in other settings.
It also got me thinking about one of the tools I’ve used quite effectively in both individual and team coaching. Sometimes known as the Disney Method but called by the course I learned it at, Tri-Position planning, the tool presents a useful way to help develop a vision and a plan to get there.
Beyond providing advice in order to help teams thrive, we need to help teams move along in their journey. The better we can do this the more impact we can truly have.
When the rubber hits the road, how do we execute?