Sunday, June 6, 2010
Linchpin Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin
I read this book because Ron Hogan at the Book Bloggers Convention on May 28, 2010 used The Seven Abilities of the Linchpin as part of his part of his presentation on professionalism and ethics for blogging. It intrigued me enough to want to pick up the book.
Seth Godin is strongly tied with new media. He has a blog and runs a social network called Squidoo. I recently reviewed another of his books, Purple Cow. He is very familiar with the changing environment of work. He also has a background in book packaging and has produced over 200 books. This makes him very familiar with the world of publishing and associates him with the book trade. This makes some of what he says relevant to libraries.
In one section in the book, he tells us that the publishing world has not caught up with new technology and could face some very serious problems. He is absolutely correct. We are seeing that with newspapers, publishing, and libraries.
Seth Godin is describing a process of becoming less dispensable in the fast changing world of new technology. It requires an ability to accept change, get over fear, and get to done repeatedly. He is describing everyone as being a potential artist. This is a very apt description. People are being required to do more creative work; post to social networking, work on websites, design marketing materials, blog, and other activities associated with new media. This requires a constant, consistent delivery of content in a timely manner. "Getting to done" becomes a necessity in many jobs.
He describes a world without a map. Again, this is perfectly appropriate. I don't think it is because of lack of planning. It has more to do with constantly changing technology, economic uncertainty, and changing workplace values.
The "linchpin" in Seth's book is the person who can deal with change and technology. He is not necessarily a line worker, nor is he a manager. He is the person who has to do the new creative work introduced into many jobs. Seth Godin claims that change has accelerated to the point where the person who just comes in to do their job or to manage people will become commoditized and left behind. The person who can create value will be the person who survives in an increasingly polarized work environment.
There is a sense in this book that the "linchpins" may be sacrificing their lives for their work. Work becomes accelerated to the point where it ceases being human. Sometimes people don't realize that a purpose of technology is to make peoples lives easier. Loving your work is fine, if it does not become all consuming. There should be a bit on burnout in this book. It certainly could create it if people follow this agenda.
The other side of the sacrifice is a new kind of producer of content that is incredibly visible, Seth Godin is among them. Some of them are Cory Doctorow, Ron Hogan, and Chris Brogan. These people have built a personal brand so strong that they do not need to look for work. There is no resume, nor business card. A blog becomes a personal resume and social networks turn into professional contacts. People drive themselves to become rising stars with social capital.
Everything becomes self oriented in the "linchpin" world. You go to the library to learn, use webinars, take open courseware from MIT Open University. There is no employer driving you to take classes or go to seminars. Some people will not like this. It is very hard to tear yourself away from the idea that your employer will provide you with further training. This is happening less and less....
This book is for the driven. It could be a recipe for burnout. If you want to learn a method to stand out, overcome your fear of doing new things, produce consistently, and take a lot of risks this book is for you. This book might not work too well in a traditional corporate setting. It pushes boundaries and challenges many ideas in management thinking.
The layout of this book is very readable, there is a lot of white space on the pages, the headers break up the text well, and it flows easily from page to page. The diagrams are incredibly simple, a middle schooler could understand them. The bibliography at the back of the book is a very nice reading list. I am considering reading The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida from the bibliography. There was no index and no notes to the content.