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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Mar 22, 2019

In today’s episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast, your host, Dan Neumann, is joined by repeat guest, Chris Spagnuolo. Chris is a product specialist at AgileThought, serving as the Principal Consultant of Product Management and Innovation. He has a deep background in product strategy and development, and is incredibly passionate about all things related to design thinking, Lean Startup and agile.


Today, Dan and Chris will be looking at some of the challenges around alignment and autonomy within organizations.


It’s not unusual to go into an organization and see that things are are out of sync from top to bottom—and usually, the root cause of most of these problems is a lack of alignment. Lack of alignment within an organization manifests in many ways, from a lack of discretionary effort from employees to ample activity that’s not meeting the market needs or advancing the strategy of the organization. In this episode, Chris helps identify these failure patterns, along with the success patterns. He also gives a thorough 101 on OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)—a powerful strategy to better align an organization.


Key Takeaways

The ways that a lack of alignment manifests in an organization (AKA failure patterns):

Strategies that are not meeting their goals from lack of implementation

Ample activity that’s not meeting the market needs or advancing the strategy of the organization

Interruptions and a high volume of requests

Focusing on the emergent work that’s truly not important or urgent

A lot of autonomy with no alignment

Really high alignment with no autonomy

Low autonomy and low alignment

A lack of discretionary effort from employees

How to better align your organization (AKA success patterns):

High autonomy and high alignment

Focus on the emergent work that is important

Join autonomy and alignment together

Commit to the organization’s culture with high engagement

Maximize the creative potential of employees, allowing them to consistently achieve goals

Make sure everyone is aligned with the overall decisions

Internalize the mission statement and live the vision of the organization

OKR (Objectives and Key Results) 101:

Created by John Doerr

It’s a stated objective and two or three key results that are used to measure how an organization is moving towards that objective

Helps with alignment within an organization because they are cascaded throughout the organization (and every level that is cascaded down builds their own OKR set that has to directly align with the level above them)

They give lots of autonomy, allowing the people within the organization to decide how they’re going to execute and what strategy they’re going to build to meet the organization’s top-level goal

They’re very adaptable

It’s important to set difficult, audacious goals (that, even if you hit 75% of them, would still have a great outcome)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Chris Spagnuolo (LinkedIn)

Agile Manifesto

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,
by General Stanley McChrystal

Cynefin & Sense-Making Framework

Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work, by Robert Austin
and Lee Devin


Chris Spagnuolo’s Book Pick

How Music Works, by David Byrne


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