Aligned Autonomy in Practice


n my earlier weblog submit I talked about Engineering Culture and the way vital it’s to embrace the truth that you must behave like a software program firm. In this weblog submit I wish to dive somewhat bit deeper in to a side of the pillar “Empowering Operating Model”.

When it involves the working mannequin of a software program firm I really consider in autonomy, placing accountability and selections near the place the precise work is finished. That implies that the software program engineers and different those who do the actual work should be empowered to make selections. And with the ability to make selections, in addition they should be accountable and accountable.

To implement this idea, I actually just like the theories of worth stream aligned groups, platform groups and end-to-end accountable groups. Organizing groups round a worth stream and put the roles and other people within the workforce which can be essential to do the job is essential.

However, when you have got numerous completely different groups and numerous completely different merchandise and are considerably greater, full autonomy is just not superb. You would possibly find yourself with 5 completely different software program stacks or impulsively have a multi-cloud technique. In the image under, that’s from Henrik Kniberg at his time at Spotify, describes this downside magnificently. The time period. “Aligned Autonomy”.

As you possibly can see on this image it’s all about discovering the proper stability between alignment and autonomy. Too a lot alignment and everybody does precisely what you say. Every resolution must have an approval and also you get what you need however not what you want (mmm.. good lyrics from Coldplay right here

On the opposite facet of the spectrum there’s solely autonomy. Everybody is doing as she or he likes. The workforce does what appears proper in the mean time. Organization targets, commonplace and so on. will not be wanted as a result of… autonomy. The superb mixture of the 2 is “Aligned autonomy”. Clear guardrails, group targets, imaginative and prescient and function in order that groups and other people could make their very own resolution which can be consistent with the larger image. But, that is simpler s from Manager facet, from workforce facet

I typically get questions or remarks about this. What is an effective solution to obtain this. Teams typically really feel that they’re constraint. They play the “an excessive amount of alignment” card. Managers and C-Level typically ask me hoe they will get some degree of perception and (sorry for the phrase) management about selections which can be made. Some time in the past a colleague and PO cam e up with some good concept and once I mixed that with some concepts I had earlier, this is likely to be a solution to obtain some aligned autonomy.

Decision sort 1 and a couple of

As mentioned, this concept is from a colleague that struggled with the alignment in his workforce. To make it clear for anyone when was good time to ask for some “approval” or at the very least look for some alignment, he launched the Decision sort 1 and Decision sort 2. Feel free to discover a sexier time period.

Decision sort 1 is all resolution that may be reverted inside 1 or 2 weeks or are very low cost (much less that you simply value in 2 days). A easy device, a bundle that you simply use, a license that you simply purchase, a convention you go to. Don’t ask, simply do. Make the decision. Don’t get delayed.

On the opposite hand there’s resolution sort 2. Decisions that aren’t straightforward to roll again, or that want some pondering upfront. Which cloud are we going to decide on, which tech stack would be the commonplace, what device will we purchase ? Those selections should be mentioned, or at the very least ben made seen to administration and vice versa. When administration decides one thing, they should talk that.

But what is an effective mannequin right here? Some time again I discovered this mannequin from Martin Fowler. He talks concerning the recommendation course of and how one can streamline this with out making particular individuals the bottleneck.

Summarized this will probably be as follows:

  • Someone has an concept/resolution of sort 2
  • You focus on with one other SME
  • You report your (pre-)resolution in an Architectural Decision Record (ADR)
  • You focus on in a discussion board with like minded individuals
  • You regulate the place wanted and determine


By making it clear that there are completely different sort of choices and encompass that with some guardrails, it’s simpler for individuals to know and embrace the idea of aligned autonomy. When you additional implement the recommendation course of as described by Martin Fowler, you give groups a terrific begin to be extra autonomous with out dropping contact as administration and vice versa.

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