Sunday, October 31, 2021

I'm tired of being a linchpin.

Just over 10 years ago Seth Godin wrote a book titled Linchpin. It says that instead of thinking about there being workers and management, think of a third group, indispensable "artists". 

Back Cover of Linchpin by Seth Godin

So for a long time I've thought of myself that way. Engineering is art. It's design and manufacturing and testing (which is quantifying practical use). I've tried to learn the things that help people, and I've tried to connect people. I'm tired. 

My company is having a few challenges right now. We physically moved manufacturing in September. Then we changed ERP systems. And we have a few customer deliveries we have to make on a product that we're still having development issues with. Plus, we've probably hired 30 people in the last four months, growing from something like 100 to 130. I'm employee number 27, and due to people who have left my seniority is up to 21. That's another way of saying, I help with on boarding a lot because I've been here longer than most and I enjoy teaching. It's exhausting. 

I desperately want a different role in the company at the moment. I want a slower pace of work. I want the opportunity to get bored enough I read all of my emails. Yet... I can't easily leave. I was playing clean up for two of my coworkers this week, and even my new boss says, "I go to Isaiah to get the history on stuff." My new boss is really good by the way. Last month when I went on vacation, and back in May when I went to Denali, there were gaps. To be more specific, yeah if I quit tomorrow the company would be fine, I'm not actually indispensable, I'm just efficient to ask, but a lot of balls would get dropped along the way. The challenge is when I'm running around trying not to drop balls, I'm not spending any effort to streamline the bowling alley so that the balls flow smoothly and don't get dropped, which means I have to keep chasing stray balls. 

We've onboarded so many new people, that I look at what all the new people are doing, and then what I've done over the last three years and it scares me how many tasks still depend on a single person at the company. It also scares me that we haven't figured out better ways to automate things. It's hard building a company.

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