This might not be the first time you have heard the words Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, emblazoned within a blog, paraded across a slide or bellowed from the rooftops - especially for those of you that are conference junkies or Meet-up gurus. I have illustrated these three words on multiple occasions, as they are salient points rising at many conferences from the inspiring talk by Daniel Pink.
Due to the ever-growing popularity of Daniel’s renowned talk and video, my desire to share how I have been inspired by these buzzwords may rest on deaf ears. However, I will bravely continue in the hope that I can keep you engaged.
Over a year ago, I had established a strong presence as a live illustrator within the Agile community and beyond, whilst juggling my long-standing role as a Business Analyst within local authority. I was finally at the tipping point where I could spread my wings and work independently. It was during this period that I was offered a life-changing opportunity to join Radtac, and develop visualisation services as a principal offering alongside Training, Consultancy, Culture and Talent.
Having worked and rubbed shoulders with members of the Radtac family for many years, this was an honourable invitation. Yet, my innocent response was ‘Thanks, but I wish to be truly autonomous’, and off I scuttled to continue with my laborious daily tasks of number crunching, process mapping, invoicing, marketing, sales and a lovely peppering of taxation. If the moons aligned on the eighth day of the week, there may have even been a slight glimmer of hope that I could take to the canvass and draw.
Radtac’s reaction to my unqualified statement led Darren Wilmshurst (Head of Consulting at Radtac) to kindly direct me to a certain film with three words in the title - autonomy, mastery and purpose. Eureka! …The cogs were finally turning. But could I be truly autonomous within an organisation? The simple answer was yes.
Since initiating my employment with Radtac (nearly a year ago), I have never left the driver’s seat, being free to experiment with new ideas, and to expand our suite of visualisation services. It is as if a weight had finally been taken off my shoulders. Gone are the days of undertaking tasks that offer little value.
As a trainer, business visualiser and live illustrator, it is possible for me to be truly ‘T-shaped’, as I reach out to gain new skills and expand my roles across the business, whilst sustaining a deep-rooted passion for visualisation.
When mastering the art of live illustration, it is as much about content as it is about the design, layout and draughtsmanship. For this reason alone the awareness that I obtain through facilitation and training plays a major part in deepening the messages that I can convey in pictures. So, the secret formula for refining one’s art is to undertake a multitude of additional skills and experiences. By remaining blinkered and focusing only on the task in hand, without transferring key learnings, you will never master the depths of creativity.
The same can be said for collaborative working, as opposed to working independently. Let me explain a little further with the use of a ‘Mountain Analogy’ illustrated by Saul Greenberg in the book ‘Sketching User Experiences’.
Consider an idea as a single mountain, which you continue to ascend incrementally until you reach the peak. Although your design will have evolved, it will only ever be as good as the initial idea. Now imagine your starting point as a mountain range, with each mountain base offering an unique idea. You can now opt for the best idea before climbing to the summit and hopefully achieving a better overall solution.
We practise this method frequently within our team with the use of digital communication tools such as Slack. This tool offers the perfect breeding ground for idea generation and collaborative working. By collectively sharing, voting, and reviewing ideas with my colleagues, I have much greater opportunity to master my craft.
The following quote perfectly captures the mindset of an organisation that invests in its people:
‘Exceptional workers execute better because they have something more at stake than themselves - they have their peers, their culture, the approval of those around them. In companies that bring the right people together, however the process, those factors lead to Flawless Execution.’
James D Murphy, Flawless Execution, 2005
Have you ever reviewed your organisation’s overarching strategic vision and wondered what part you play in reaching those goals, or if your essential skills are underused and undervalued? Well, this was how I felt before I joined Radtac!
Ok, so I wasn’t expecting that everyday in the office was going to be a field day, but I couldn’t understand what was missing, and why I felt so deflated. Bemused, I began questioning the office environment, the people that I interacted with on a daily basis, and even my earnings, but was no closer to solving this feeling of emptiness. I was of course feeling a lack of purpose. It is undeniable that employees crave praise and gratification for a job well done, but to me nothing beats knowing that your actions have directly benefited your organisation, and that your efforts have enhanced customer satisfaction.
Since joining Radtac, I can confidently say that I currently know what direction my organisation is taking, what we as a team wish to achieve, and how I can personally play a part in reaching those goals. With a strong sense of empowerment, I feel truly motivated and confident that I am offering something of value. It’s not always possible to make the right decisions and not to fall at some hurdles, but purpose offers the baton you need to fail fast and plough on.
To summarise, I would simply say that if you work for the right organisation, you can be truly autonomous, have the opportunity to be masterful and acquire a wonderful feeling of purpose. BUT if you feel that these qualities are missing in your world, don’t just head for the door. The key to obtaining these virtues is to educate senior leaders and managers in offering trust, opportunities to grow, and establishing a clear purpose across the organisation.
I strongly believe that this is the answer for the major pain points many businesses have with retaining a workforce. Invest in your team and they will collectively help to build your organisation from the bottom up.
Why not tell your story, share your passions and present your insights with a room full of like-minded individuals? Come along to our next Agile open mic night on the 21st of September, and take to the stage. With a great prize consisting of entry to the Agile Testing Days in Germany, plus a talking slot, I really hope it’s hard to say no.