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Alignment vs Autonomy

Alignment vs Autonomy

Good leaders have to set up a clear directions for their team and enable them to get the job done. The Alignment has to do with setting clear goals and objectives.

But the Autonomy axis can be looked at in different ways. John Cutler, product manager extraordinaire, points at 3 dimensions:

  1. Diversity, dissent, openness to change
  2. Empowerment
  3. Creativity

Looked at these he classifies the companies into 12 (sometimes overlapping) batches. 


288 reads

High Alignment, High Autonomy

A company with a clear direction can be:

  • Resilient - High diversity, dissent, openness to change: "Our company is like a well-oiled machine; we're all on the same page and we value different ideas making us stronger and better prepared."
  • Collaborative - High empowerment: "We're all working towards the same goals, and everyone has the freedom to contribute and make a difference."
  • Visionary - High creativity: "Our organisation not only has a clear direction, but it also encourages us to think outside the box and push boundaries - we're always striving to innovate and lead the wave"


190 reads

High Alignment, Low Autonomy

  • Conformist - Low diversity, dissent, openness to change: "We're all expected to follow the same rules and procedures, but that sometimes stifles new ideas and prevents us from adapting quickly to new challenges."
  • Authoritarian - Low empowerment: "We have a strong sense of direction, but it's top-down and there's little room for individual input or autonomy, making it feel more like a dictatorship than a team."
  • Rigid - Low creativity: “Our organization is laser-focused on its goals, but that focus can sometimes come at the expense of creativity and innovation.”


161 reads

Low Alignment, Low Autonomy

Fragmented - Low diversity, dissent, openness to change: "Our workplace feels disjointed, with no clear direction & a lack of diverse ideas, making it difficult for us to grow and adapt as a team."

Disconnected - Low empowerment: "We're often left feeling uncertain about our goals and direction & without the power to make meaningful contributions, it's hard to feel engaged or connected to our work."

Stagnant - Low creativity: "Our organization seems to be stuck in a rut, lacking both a clear sense of direction & the creative spark needed to innovate and thrive in todav's competitive landscape."


138 reads

Low Alignment, High Autonomy

  • Pluralistic - High diversity, dissent, openness to change: "We may not always have a unified direction, but the diverse perspectives and open dialogue make our organization an exciting and dynamic place to work."
  • Decentralized - High empowerment: "While we might lack a clear, overarching strategy, the autonomy and decision-making authority given to each team make our organization feel more like a network of empowered entrepreneurs."
  • Exploratory - High creativity: "We may not always have a well-defined path, but we're constantly experimenting, learning &pushing the boundaries of what's possible."


133 reads



Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.


Categorize companies based on their autonomy relative to alignment.

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