Autonomy, Connection, Excellence, and Diversity

When we first launched CTO2, I wrote a blog post discussing the history of our Autonomy, Connection, and Excellence framework.

In the many months since then, we at CTO2 have come to recognize the importance of Diversity as an additional dimension leaders need to focus on in order to foster a truly magnificent knowledge work culture. Originally, I might have argued that Diversity was simply a component of Excellence, but it is more than that. It is not merely an option to be considered in an overall strategy, it is a fundamental necessity. And far too many organizations fail to give it the proper consideration.

A simple framework (extended)


As pertains to the individual, autonomy is about having a voice in the decisions that impact one’s life and the freedom to choose a different course. As pertains to the collective, autonomy is the right to self-organize and self-govern. In a corporate environment autonomy means leaving the decisions about how work is done to those who actually do the work.


Connection is internal and external. Connection is what makes a community. Internally, organizations need cohesion within and between all teams; one collective, united toward a common cause. External connection is engagement with a community through sincere dialogue and contribution, where bolstering your brand is a side effect, not a primary objective.


Excellence is about both personal mastery and the quality of the product we produce. To achieve excellence, teams and individuals must be adequately challenged and be able to see true progress toward a goal they aspire to.


Diversity is about creating a team capable of solving complex problems. The diversity we need, the diversity that makes a significant difference in the creation and interpretation of experiments in a complex environment, is diversity of thought. A small group of individuals from varying backgrounds with differing perspectives and specialties working together are capable of generating more options and considering more alternatives than a team of experts with similar backgrounds and expertise.

This is about teams, not individuals

Autonomy, Connection, Excellence, and Diversity is obviously similar to Pink's Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. One could argue (and many have) that this is nothing more than a re-articulation of Pink's work. But I think the distinction is in the aspect of the collective. Not just what motivates us as individuals, but what motivates us as a group.


The Autonomy, Connection, Excellence, and Diversity (#CultureACED) framework is foremost in our minds and directs the work that we do. Our customers have and will become familiar with these ideas. Not just the words, but the actual tools and techniques we've successfully used in a number of organizations.

If this resonates with you, we encourage you to tell your own stories of success with Autonomy, Connection, Excellence or Diversity in your organization and tag is with #CultureACED. If you'd like to learn more about how we foster these components in environments, including the various tools we use, contact us.