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When the assembly line was first introduced in workplaces in the early 1800s, it was revolutionary, but in the present day, that work has all but been taken over by robots. Technology and corporate structures have developed dramatically, and asking your employees to simply act like cogs in a machine is no longer going to get you the results you need to succeed in today’s world.
Once your company has grown to the point where it’s not just about the initial growth stage, priorities shift — they have to. The business is able to invest more in its users, giving them new features, regularly optimized products and a quality beyond what the market has to offer. Now, it’s not about hitting a milestone and then charging forward, it’s about creating impact. A team could come up with an incredible new innovation for your product, and everyone works toward the launch, but what comes next?
It’s time we change the way we work, and structures have to adapt.
Related: 5 Ways to Integrate Employee Autonomy Into Your Culture
Step 1: Organize your business around the value
Checking an item off your to-do list isn’t enough. Each person on a project needs to ask themselves and everyone around them what the ultimate business impact is and put together a dynamic plan that’s future-oriented. That also means changing the way teams work to create this new, long-lasting impact.
Sure, each team involved on a specific project can work in an assembly line, taking one part of the project, doing their part and passing it on. However, if you’re looking to create something with value, it’s critical that everyone involved in that process is working towards the same goal. Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their work and expertise, and beyond that, when an employee feels that their work is seen, heard and valued, they’ll feel better about their work and their place within the company.
Step 2: Building autonomous teams
If everyone works separately, what you create is a sense of responsibility, but not accountability. When you zoom out, data and copy might not seem connected to one another, but they are, and they need each other to reach that desired impact. So, that leaves you with the question: how can I build autonomous teams while staying true to a shared goal?
A true autonomous team is cross-disciplined and holistic. Product, data, design, copy, creative and beyond — everyone needs to work together throughout the entire process to ensure that each aspect of the project creates one cohesive result. Through working together in an autonomous team, each employee is also given the opportunity to better understand the ways in which each department and each person’s work is interdependent.
It’s vital that everyone, from the C-level all the way down, understands the company strategy as a whole. People don’t want to clock in and clock out each day and do exactly what is asked of them on autopilot. You hired the best of the best for a reason — each person in the company comes with their own unique outlook, their own experiences and their own expertise. It’s important to make sure that each and every person feels that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Step 3: Create a shared goal
Once everyone feels connected to the strategy, they need to understand the business goal of whatever project it is they’re working on. And here’s where the issue of reaching a milestone versus creating value comes back into play. Beyond releasing something for the sake of releasing it, you want it to add impact to both the user and the business, ultimately resulting in product-led growth.
An autonomous team has all of the resources and capabilities to put together a plan of action towards reaching the shared goal, and furthermore, to work agilely to optimize that plan in order to reach the greatest positive impact. The flexibility and dynamism of the autonomous team also means that they can change tactics or develop new plans, always keeping the business and users in mind.
Related: 6 Ways to Encourage Autonomy With Your Employees
Step 4: Understand how to achieve the impact
The way to create meaning and a real, lasting impact is to explain to each person why they’ve been chosen to take part and how their role in the overall project relates to everyone else so that together you make a real difference. You have to break down the silos, encourage face-to-face interactions and emphasize the importance of a clear flow of communication between departments.
When everyone is on the same page, each person can do their work with a feeling of purpose. Everyone wants to feel as though the work they’re doing is integral to effecting change, progressing the project and contributing to the impact. And so, when everyone fully understands why they’re there, you’re going to find that there is also a sense of closeness and camaraderie among your workers — everyone doing their part to push the project forward. Without trying too hard, you’ll also find that you’ve encouraged collaboration and fostered a harmonious work environment.
One team, one vision
Now, your autonomous teams are made of experts from a range of departments, each one an important piece of the puzzle, working together to create something that will have a broad and critical effect. How they get to that effect might look different from the game plan that was drafted on day one. But since your teams are made up of experts from different specialties, directly influencing the way one another works, you’ve already created an agile work environment. Your autonomous teams will be empowered to work dynamically to make the right decisions based on business metrics, shared KPIs (key performance indicators), the overall company strategy and one roadmap for how to create impact.
The motto that guides us daily is: one team, one vision. Everyone understands why they come in each day, and it’s not just to clock in and clock out, nor is it just for the benefit of the company. We’re all committed to giving our users the best product possible. As artists in our own right, we put ourselves in the place of the user and work to give each person who engages with our product the tools to create. That’s the greater impact. Our creativity flows out to creators worldwide so that the work that they do can further that impact, paying it forward.
Related: How to Build a Business that Makes a Positive Impact