Book Review: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

The book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin talks about the every increasing automation of people in the workplace, and what it takes to be seen as a linchpin, or indispensable personnel. Godin urges the reader to become an “artist”, whereby the work you do is not simply work, but if created for others becomes “a gift”. To make a difference, to stand for something.

Godin talks about “person as machine” where many of the tasks they are doing are acting as a machine or cog would in a giant system. Godin urges his readers to go the extra mile and create “art” that is indispensable, often in the form of human connections and the desire to be treated like individuals.

“Every successful organization is built around people. Humans who do art. People who interact with other people. Men and women who don’t merely shuffle money, but interact, give gifts, and connect. All these interactions are art. Art isn’t only a painting; its anything that changes someone for the better, any non-anonymous interaction that leads to a human (not simply a commercial conclusion)” (pg 235).

Godin describes some people you may find in the job and their along an axis of attachment->discernment and passive->passionate:

  •  Whiner (Attachment/Passive)-> no passion, attached to current world view.
  •  Fundamentalist Zealot (Attachment/Passionate) -> change is a threat, curiosity is a threat, huge effort in maintaining world view.
  •  Bureaucrat (Discernment/Passive) -> not attached to the outcome of events, no additional effort.
  •  Linchpin (Discernment/Passionate) -> understand the world as it is, right effort in the right place can change the outcome. (pg 181).

The book outlines some suggestions for becoming a “Linchpin” including:

  •  Providing a unique interface between members of the organization
  •  Delivering a unique creativity
  •  Managing a situation or organization of great complexity
  •  Leading customers
  • Inspiring staff
  • Providing deep domain knowledge
  • Possessing a unique talent

Overall the book is interesting in its take on being an “artist” that can bring something unique to a situation and that by becoming a Linchpin (and indispensable) it should allow for much more freedom and opportunities within the organization.

I suspect that those people that are motivated in becoming a leader in their organization/industry could benefit from some of the insights mentioned in the book.

Best of luck,

Michael Hubbard

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