Extreme Autonomy

By Pavan Muzumdar

Patagonia is a unique company. Over the years it has earned some serious street cred as a steward of the environment and amassed a cult-like following from fashion-conscious professionals. True to its green badge, it is has refused to make corporate wear for companies that don’t pass muster. This kind of brand strength is not accidental. It is a deliberate, stay-the-course, do what you say and stand up for what you believe execution, practiced day-in and day-out, that builds such a brand.

It all makes sense when you listen to the story of Yvon Chouinard’s journey as rock climber turned serial entrepreneur starting all the way back in 1957. This podcast is full of interesting nuggets of wisdom and learning. To be sure, the road wasn’t without ups and downs. However, what struck me when I listened was how Patagonia has built a culture of extreme autonomy that can explain its longevity and brand strength.

Chouinard mentions that employees that are successful at Patagonia would probably be miserable at most other companies. Employees are encouraged to be highly independent; no one is asked to come in at a set time or leave at one. If it’s nice outside, no one stops you from going surfing, and by the same token, no one asks you to stay back to get your work done. As someone who sees many companies from the inside, this form of extreme autonomy is rare.

If you can accomplish this level of autonomy at your company, the transformation will be truly remarkable. An entrepreneurial spirit and ownership mindset will become the two strands of the cultural DNA of your company. When we facilitate icube™, described in Venture Perfect, we show leaders how to clearly articulate the purpose and direction of their businesses to ensure that all team members can have a sense of purpose and autonomy to do their work.

About Venture Perfect

Venture Perfect describes icube™ a business leadership system designed to maximize teamwork and profit in any company. icube™ teaches leaders how to create powerful systems and structures that foster an inspiring culture, an intelligent strategy, and intense execution for long-term sustainability.

Pavan Muzumdar Managing Director