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Alignment & Autonomy

A workshop to support teams to reflect on and ultimately increase their alignment with purpose/goals and team member autonomy. Inspired by Peter Smith's model of personal responsibility. Use this workshop to strengthen a culture of personal responsibility and build your team's ability to adapt quickly and navigate change.

Part of "Leading Teams in the Digital Age"

A 6-week online course that will help you and your team work better together, be more effective and reach your goals. Get the modern toolbelt for culture, collaboration and leadership in times of change and complexity.

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  1. Step 1:

    Before you kick off the workshop, as a leader, take some time to think about and define two key things:

    1. Set parameters for what is an acceptable level of autonomy from your team 2. Define what it is that you want your team to align around

    If you are not the formal leader of the team, discuss these two topics with the relevant leader. This is an important pre-step because it establishes the frames for the workshop and decisions that may flow out of it.

    If your team does not already have clearly stated purpose, culture and working routines, consider using the Purpose & Culture and Point of Departure tools before running this workshop.

    Once you're happy with your parameters for autonomy and alignment, bring your team together and talk though the Alignment & Autonomy framework by Peter Smith.

    This article describes the framework in some depth. For a quick intro, check out the first five minutes of this video by Spotify agile coach Henrik Kniberg.

    You might consider asking participants to read the above article and/or watch the above video ahead of the workshop. Make sure to plan in some time time to discuss and make sense of the model before you head to Step 2.

  2. Step 2:

    Invite your team to reflect on the past 3-6 months of the team's work.

    Building on the shared understanding of the model, ask them to think about moments when they felt:

    *- Highly aligned, Highly autonomous

    • Highly aligned, Not so autonomous
    • No so aligned, Highly autonomous
    • No so aligned OR autonomous*

    It's fine if members can't think of a moment for each one, but encourage them to reflect deeply and explore their own relationship to the team and the organization. Encourage members to make notes as they reflect.

    Once everyone's had time to think, ask them to share, one at a time, with the rest of the team.

    Optional: Consider creating a timeline on the wall going back 3 or 6 months and inviting each member to place their moments on the timeline as they share them.

  3. Step 3:

    Now ask the team to reflect as individuals on the following questions:

    *- What would support me to be more aligned with the team's purpose and goals?

    • What is hindering my alignment?
    • What would support me to be more autonomous?
    • What is hindering my autonomy?

    Encourage members to be as open and honest as they feel comfortable to be. Encourage them to be specific about what hinders them and what would support them.

    As before, ask them to share one-by-one with the rest of the team.

    After the round of sharing, make sure to address any misconceptions or misunderstandings that the team might have. Be sure to clarify expectations of what is possible in terms of autonomy.

  4. Step 4:

    Finally, building on what was expressed in the previous step, invite the team suggest tangible actions that the team could take to increase alignment and autonomy.

    Invite members to suggest actions, writing each on a post-it and placing it on the wall. Once suggestions have been made, review them and decide together how to proceed with each.

  5. Step 5:

    Wrap-up the session with a quick round, inviting each member to share one key takeaway from the session.