Thursday, July 7, 2011




Career development is one of the most important topics in life. Ironically, most universities do not have a subject on developing a successful and exciting career. I am not talking about training courses for interviews and resume writing. I am talking about building a bright career future. Graduates often need to make hard decisions in deciding which companies they should work for, which positions they should apply for, which additional courses they should study, how long they should stay with the companies etc.

Fortunately, I have the opportunity to study career paths throughout my human resource course. This knowledge helps me in makingmanyhard decisions. I am very grateful for that. Here, I want to share a fantastic career development book with you, called “Linchpin, Are You Indispensable?” This book encompasses all my knowledge about career development and more, well much more.

One thing I love this book is that the author, Seth Godin is not afraid to tell the truth about the current business world. He accurately points out the harsh side of organizations. Basically, organizations only want two types of workers.
The first type of worker is hard working, mindless and cheap. They have standardized skills and attributes. Their work is governed by rule and policies. Job titles and experience are irrelevant here. As long as their jobs are predictable and replaceable, they are included in this category. This type of workers are dispensable. Organizations will fire them without mercy, even when companies are doing well. The management can always find cheaper and younger workers to replace them.

The second type of workers is the problem solvers. They don’t follow rules and policies all the time. They bring their unique personalities to work. They are willing to use their own ways to solve problems and take the blame. Their approaches are unpredictable and add unique value to organizations. Their work is hard to measure and replicate. They have unique insight of the future and they do something about it. Similar to the first type, job titles and experience are irrelevant here as well. There is no surprise that this type of workers are valuable and indispensable. Smart organizations will try their best to retain these workers in any circumstances. The author calls them, Linchpins.

If you are not sure which type of workers you are at the moment, you can compare yourself to a list of attributes of the dispensable type:

1. Don’t ship on time. Late is the first step to never.

2. Procrastinate, claiming that you need to be perfect.

3. Ship early, sending out defective ideas, hoping they will be rejected.

4. Suffer anxiety about what to wear to an event.

5. Make excuses involving lack of money.

6. Do excessive networking with the goal of having everyone like you and support you.

7. Engage in deliberately provocative behavior designed to ostracize you so you will have no standing in the community.

8. Demonstrate a lack of desire to obtain new skills.

9. Spend hours on obsessive data collection.

10. Be snarky

11. Start committees instead of taking action.

12. Join committees instead of leading.

13. Excessively criticize the work of your peers, thus unrealistically raising the bar for your work.

14. Produce deliberately outlandish work product that no one can possibly embrace.

15. Ship deliberately average work product that will certainly fit in and be ignored.

16. Don’t ask questions.

17. Ask too many questions.

18. Criticize anyone who is doing something differently. If they succeed, that means you will have to do something differently too.

19. Start a never-ending search for the next big thing, abandoning yesterday’s thing as old.

20. Embrace an emotional attachment to the status quo.

21. Invent anxiety about the side effects of a new approach.

22. Be boring.

23. Focus on revenge or teaching someone a lesson, at the expense of doing the work.

24. Slow down as the deadline for the completion approaches. Check your work obsessively as ship date looms.

25. Wait for tomorrow.

26. Manufacture anxiety about people stealing your ideas.

27. When you find behaviors that increase the chances of shipping, stop using them.

28. Believe it’s about gifts and talents, not skill.

29. Announce you have neither.

The common theme from the list above is fear. The fear to do things differently, the fear of failure, the fear of people laughing at you and the fear of upsetting the status quo are the characteristics of being dispensable. They believe that the world will stop changing, because they afraid to change.

So, what does a Linchpin do and look like? You can find most of the characteristics, functions and abilities from the mind map at the end of this post. Before I finish, I want to say that everyone can be indispensable in organizations. It is just a choice. You can either choose to become someone important and have an exciting career or be ordinary and have a simple life. There is no right or wrong answer. However, if you want to have an exciting and successful career, I would strong recommend this book to you.

Click Here To Download The Mind Map


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