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Autonomy, is that what we really want? @ RBI AED

Autonomy, is that what we really want? @ RBI AED

There has been a focus on autonomy in information technology; From autonomy in code, autonomy while coding, autonomous systems with microservices to autonomous high-performing teams. When you read Daniel Pink's research in the book Drive, it makes sense; autonomy is one of the three things that motivate us; it is the ability of the person to make his or her own decisions. However, often autonomy can lead to isolation and disconnect from the rest of the code, team, or organisation. So how can we balance the individual needs while staying connected to the team/organisation to stay autonomous?

In this talk, we will go through all the levels we deal with in IT, from code to organisation collaboration. We will go into autonomy at each level and explain how we often confuse autonomy with individual needs. These individual needs can turn into isolation and disconnect from the code, team and organisation. Through examples, we will show how our compulsiveness towards autonomy gives us both downsides of being isolated and coupled in the code, within the team and organisation. You will leave the talk knowing how polarity management can help you manage this paradox between the individual and the team/organisation and get the benefits from the whole and the individual to be balanced.

Kenny Baas-Schwegler

November 28, 2023

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  1. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Autonomy, as described by Mr. Pink, is the

    urge to direct one's own life. Without the ability to control what, when, and how we work, and who we work with, we'll never be completely motivated to complete a task
  2. @kenny_baas @[email protected] “Man is born free, but one of the

    first things he learns is to do as he is told and he spends the rest of his life doing that. Thus his first enslavement is to his parents. He follows their instructions forevermore, retaining only in some cases, the right to choose his own methods and consoling himself with an illusion of autonomy.” — Eric Berne
  3. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Definition of autonomy The quality or state of

    being self-​ governing especially : the right of self-​ government The territory was granted autonomy. Self-​ directing freedom and especially moral independence personal autonomy A self-​ governing state Autonomy Has Origins in Law Since nomos is Greek for "law", something autonomous makes its own laws. The amount of autonomy enjoyed by French-​ speaking Quebec, or of Palestinians in certain towns in Israel, or of independent-​ minded regions of Russia, have become major issues. The autonomy of individual states in the United States has posed serious constitutional questions for two centuries. The autonomy of children is almost always limited by their parents. But when those parents are elderly and begin driving poorly and getting confused about their finances, their children may see the need to limit their autonomy in much the same way. 1. 2. 3. Source: https://www.merriam-​ webster.com/dictionary/autonomy
  4. @kenny_baas @[email protected] http://ueberproduct.de/ep-22-​ jabe-​ bloom-​ marc-​ burgauer-​ designing-​ systems-​ pt-​

    ii/ “I hate the word autonomy. ... I think autonomy is individuating. ... The way I hear the word and I think other people hear it – and I might be wrong and other people hear it differently – but the way I hear it is “I have the right to make my own decisions. I have the right to make my own rules.” — Jabe Bloom
  5. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Positive effect from 100% side L Positive effect

    from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side L Whole Part Polarity map - based on Barry Johnsons work Uniqueness Connectedness Sameness Isolation
  6. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Photo by Martin Rancourt on Unsplash Autonomy on

    several levels > Code level > Team Level > Teams level > Organisation level
  7. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Business stakeholder Domain Experts Other roles involved in

    designing and building software Code Represents Communicates Communicates Software Team Communicates Tests Represents
  8. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Positive effect from 100% side L Positive effect

    from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side L Feeling secure to change the code Cascading changes Sociable Solitary Test in isolation Fast feedback on failure Failure of bug in other class Slower feedback on failure Coherent testing No Mocking coupling Cascading changes on mock/stub Loss of "unit of work" cohesiveness Polarity map - based on Barry Johnsons work
  9. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Autonomy is not an excuse to hold something

    against someone Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash
  10. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Sunken Cost Fallacy: Why change now? We’ve already

    wasted so much money. Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash
  11. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Positive effect from 100% side L Positive effect

    from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side L Always in a releasable state Bugs, Bugs, Bugs Trunk based Actions/heuristics Signals/observations Signals/observations Actions/heuristics Branch Polarity map - based on Barry Johnsons work Freedom Individual creativity Care for the whole Shared mental model in code team effort Loss of cohesive mental models Excessive conformity Compete to change the same code When this happens we need to take action Ensemble/mob or pair programming
  12. @kenny_baas @[email protected] We should be thinking about limiting the size

    of software, services, and products to the cognitive load that the team can handle.
  13. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Photo by Ismael Bashiri on Unsplash Enabling teams

    actively avoid becoming “ivory towers”of knowledge, dictating technical choices for other teams to follow.
  14. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Positive effect from 100% side L Positive effect

    from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side L Customer centric Tower of babel Collaboration Actions/heuristics Signals/observations Signals/observations Actions/heuristics Isolation Freedom Team Creativity Work ahead of new technology Uniqueness Connectedness synergy of the whole Care for the customer Loss of equality Isolation Selfish Sameness High cognitive load Excessive comformity
  15. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Leadership is not Dictatorship It requires us to

    balance power and Love Photo by Tingey injury on Unsplash
  16. @kenny_baas @[email protected] We gave them autonomy. Why aren’t they doing

    anything with it? Photo by Lucas van Oort on Unsplash
  17. @kenny_baas @[email protected] When there’s autonomy everywhere, do we still need

    managers and architects? Photo by Miguel a Amutio on Unsplash
  18. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Positive effect from 100% side L Positive effect

    from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side R Negative effect from 100% side L Agency Indecisiveness Centralised decisions Actions/heuristics Signals/observations Signals/observations Actions/heuristics Decentralised decisions Empowering teams Spontaneuous Teams acting decisively Empowering the organisation Organisation can coordinate Organisation acting decisively Everyone feels included Organisation cannot coordinate FOMO and feeling left out Burden of consequences for mistakes Disempowering the teams no creativity or spontaneous Lack of team accountability queues
  19. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Patterns of autonomy and isolation are fractal. If

    you find one at one layer, you can bet you can find the same at other layers as well. Photo by Martin Rancourt on Unsplash
  20. @kenny_baas @[email protected] Autonomy, is that what we really want? >

    Define and negotiate boundaries continuously > Manage polarities