Two of my favourite books show us the yin and yang of success – the individual and the team.
Dan Pink’s Drive describes three key areas of motivation and personal growth:
- Autonomy: The desire to be self-directed
- Mastery: The urge to get better skills
- Purpose: The need to work with meaning
Meanwhile, in David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around we find a set of values for empowered teams:
- Autonomy: Give people control over their decisions
- Alignment: Provide the information people need to make the best decisions
- Transparency: Ensure people communicating their decisions to everyone around them
Putting these together, you get the calculus of collaboration – two sides of the equation for successful teamwork:
On both sides of the equation, you have autonomy: the essential element for both individuals and organizations. Empowered people are at the core of empowered teams.
Autonomy is the ability for individuals to work independently without of micromanaging. But of course, autonomy unhinged does not result in success. “Divide the fire, and you will sooner put it out.” If everyone went off and did their own thing, work would be confusing and unproductive.
So autonomy, the key to success, must be modified on both sides of the equation:
- At the personal level, the effectiveness of autonomy is amplified by mastery and purpose. The more we develop our mastery and work with purpose, the greater we are able to make use of our autonomy.
- At the team level, autonomy is tempered by the group’s need for alignment and transparency. The more aligned the team is and the more transparent team members are with one other, the better we are able to apply our autonomy to collective problem solving.
As individuals, when we achieve mastery and purpose, we make the most of our autonomy.
As teammates, when we practice transparency and alignment, we give the best of our autonomy.
Putting Pink and Marquet together, you get the collaboration equation at the centre of dynamic learning organizations. Solve for a: solve for autonomy.