Being Indispensable Has Its Limits – Be Careful!

The sub-title of Seth Godin’s new best-seller, Linchpin, is “Are You Indispensable?”

Over the years, I have facilitated several strategic planning sessions for departments, divisions, and units, which included the formation of a mission statement specific to the work that they do.

I joked on Friday morning at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas that when these groups have difficulty writing what they do, what purpose they serve, how they are indispensable, or in other words, what the organization would look like or how it would get along without them – they need to figure that out before someone else does!  If they weren’t there, how could the organization survive?  That list needs to be as ugly-looking as possible. 

Of course, you could say the same thing about an individual, which is the subject of Godin’s book.  If you are not indispensable, you do not stand out or contribute in a unique way, and you are certainly not a linchpin.

I have been with some groups who got excited about the prospects of writing their mission statement.  I am all for enthusiasm, but the great anchor in all cases must be alignment.  Do you align with the mission of the larger organization?  If your group does not align with, cascade with, and fit in with, the organization of which it is a member, you could be writing your ticket out of the organization.

You may view this as limiting.  It may not sound creative to you.  You are probably right.  Think about it.  If you describe the purpose you serve in ways that do not support the purpose of the body that you work for, you do not belong there. 

The reality is that every department or division is not its own island.  You can be indispensable without being stupid. 

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it.

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