You know you need to innovate and create in order to stay competitive, but where do you start? where can you find the innovative or creative spark?

Your organization is full of talent. Much of it you are not even aware of. Your success depends on your ability to tap in to the collective pool of creativity, innovativeness, and skills that your people provide you.


Autonomous work practices give people the power to choose their own working principles in order to maximize the value and efficiency in what they produce.

Trust plays a large role in successful autonomous work practice. If you have followed previous topics in this guide, then you have already done a lot to build trust in your organization from your teams. If you reciprocate by putting organizational trust in your teams you will be rewarded.

When working autonomously people naturally focus on their strengths which increases utilization of their natural talents and increases their productivity and creativity.

Successful autonomous work practices include giving people the power to influence:

  • when to work
  • where to work
  • how to work
  • task priorities
  • what equipment to use

Some organizations take autonomous work principles much further. Consider the famous approaches taken by 3M and Google. 3M allowed their people to spend 15% of their time on personal projects and experimenting. This experimentation led to their most famous innovation: the Post-it note. Google used a similar approach, encouraging people to “spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google”. This led to the creation of both Gmail and Google maps.

insights & further reading

Research show that job autonomy is significantly related to job satisfaction and performance12

Employees with autonomy rate their employers as more innovative compared to those without autonomy3


Adopt autonomous work practices, starting with roles where you will see the most value from innovation.

Grant people complete ownership of their assigned tasks, including any decision making power needed to reach completion.

Looking at the above list, empower people to influence at least the below:

  • how to work
  • task priorities

Assess your organization’s ability to support the below and plan to implement choice in:

  • where & when to work
  • what equipment to use

Consider the impact that autonomous work principles can have on collaboration and adopt new tools if required to support these changes.

Consider adopting some version of the “free time” principle to drive innovation. Apply this broadly across your organization. Innovation can come from anywhere.

methods & tools

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