Tim’s Weblog Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, managing software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.
2014-01-27

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose – My take

I love this quote from the Re/code interview with Chris Fry, Twitter senior vice president of engineering:

“One of the things I always think about is how to deliver three things to everyone that works for me. One is autonomy, one is mastery and one is purpose.”

These three (taken from Dan Pink’s “Drive” book) are exactly what I value and want the most as an employee. Here’s what they mean to me:

Autonomy means that we can take initiative, make decisions, take responsibility, and manage our work on our own. We can only have autonomy if management trusts us to be self-motivating grown-ups, experts who work in the best interest of the company and its customers (even when no-one is supervising us). It also requires transparency and full information sharing – if someone holds back information, he’s keeping us from making the right decisions.

Mastery is two things: First, we want to be able to do great work – we love to learn, to get trained and gain experience. But then, we also want to be allowed to do great work. Stop the mediocrity, the permanent rushing and cutting corners, the overpromising and underdelivering. We want quality and beauty and excellence. Not to selfishly enjoy our pretty code, but for the long-term good of the customer and the company. (Be aware that we keep growing: While you might think we’ve just mastered some programming language, we’ve learned a lot more in the process and strive for quality in every other aspect as well.)

Purpose feels different for everyone, I guess. My goal is to make people happy by building tools that make their jobs easier and more fun. Tools that facilitate knowledge sharing, learning and creativity, which in turn will positively affect even more people. (Building photo databases and newspaper archives, as I’m currently doing, is a pretty good match.)

Want to keep your employees happy and motivated? Money can’t buy you that. Be willing to lose power, to truly care for them and treat them as partners. And give them autonomy, mastery and purpose.

(More daydreaming: If I were a manager)

Update: See also: Mike Hadlow: Heisenberg Developers

Mon, 27 Jan 2014 21:40:56 +0000