You might not want to hear it, but you can be replaced. Indeed, you should strive to be replaceable - or at least tell yourself you are. That's the subject in this week's
advice from My Job Went to India
This is an eye-opening, scary, yet inspiring chapter - all rolled into one. In it, Chad explains why we should strive to be
replaceable parts in the machine (or "a pebble in a bucket of water"), and he mentions the old job insurance via crapcode line:
I've heard lots of programmers half-joking about creating "job security" with unmaintainable code. And, I've seen actual programmers attempt to do it. In every case, these people have
become targets. Sure, it was scary for the company to finally let go of them. Ultimately, though, fear is the worst that ever came of it. Attempting to be irreplaceable is a defensive maneuver that creates a hostile relationship with your employer...
By contrast, being "replaceable should create an unhostile working relationship," Chad says. He also notes that if you're not replaceable in your current position, you can't move up the ladder.
You might like to imagine yourself as a supercoder, keeping your company safe from disaster, and that if you were gone, they'd be helpless. To combat this delusion, Chad suggests imagining the average impact of one of your co-workers leaving.
I'll wait while you imagine it.
Got it? Good. That's probably about the same impact you'd have. If your entire company's truck number
is a 1, and you're one of the ones, then clearly that's not the case for you. If you are in that position, you should be doing something to reverse it. It's unlikely you're "so peerless that [you] in fact should
be irreplaceable" (quoting Chad Fowler).
The best part of this chapter, though, is the story Chad tells about a powerful CIO in a powerful company:
He and his team (of which I was a part) were winning every award and setting every IT standard in the company.
[Yet] he professed to waking up every day and intentionally and explicitly reminding himself that he could be knocked off his pedestal any day. Today could be it, he'd say.
[Chad explains,] humility is not just something we develop so we can claim to be more spiritual. It also allows you to see your own actions more clearly... [The] more successful you are, the more likely you are to make a fatal mistake. When you've got everything going for you, you're less likely to question your own judgment. When the way you've always done it has always worked, you're less likely to recognize a new way that might work better. You become arrogant, and with arrogance you develop blind spots.
case, our truck number is a one. But we have so few employees, it's hard to get it much higher than that. Still, we're making moves in the right direction to increase our truck number so that we all share more knowledge about more of each others' positions. Our hope is that while one of us might not be able to take over for another (if for no other reason than lack of available time), we might have enough shared knowledge to train someone else to do it, without it being more difficult than it needs to be.
All that spaghetti
code I wrote is slowing being shoveled into the dumpster. And we're skipping the recycle bin.
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