Kevin Goldsmith

Kevin Goldsmith has been a developer, software architect, engineering manager, and senior technology executive for over 28 years.

He was most recently the Chief Technology Officer at Onfido in London, a machine learning and computer vision company helping users own their identities on the internet. Previously, he was the Vice-President of Engineering at AstrumU, a startup whose purpose is to help students find meaningful careers. Kevin was the Chief Technology Officer at the legal marketplace Avvo from 2016 through their acquisition in 2018. For three years, he was the Vice President of Engineering, Consumer at Spotify in Stockholm, Sweden, leading the development of the multi-platform product and streaming services. Kevin spent nine years at Adobe Systems as a Director of Engineering, leading the Adobe Revel product group and the Adobe Image Foundation group. Kevin was a developer and development lead at Microsoft in the Windows and Research teams.

You Are Doing Autonomy Wrong

The idea of creating autonomous teams has been trending for a few years now. It is now considered one of the tenets of mature agile organizations.

In theory, autonomous teams move faster because they don't have to synchronize with other groups as much or wait to get approval for their decisions. They don't have to wait for direction. Autonomous teams should also be happier; autonomy being one of the three pillars of driving motivation in individuals.

In practice, many leads and their managers confuse autonomy with being completely "hands-off." Failed projects, buggy releases, or other issues are often the result of not understanding how team autonomy should work.

In this talk, I’ll discuss my experiences seeing autonomy done correctly and not in teams, and share examples of what I’ve done to establish the needed conditions for autonomy done right.