Make Yourself Dispensable

Make Yourself Dispensable

Li-Hsuan Lung

October 12, 2016

Why make yourself dispensable? Because we are all going to lose our jobs at some point in our careers. Making ourselves dispensable on our own terms is to prepare for the inevitable.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the way to secure our jobs is to make sure no one in the company can do what we do. However, from my perspective as a software developer and consultant, I believe we should strive for the opposite.

My job as a software developer is to automate jobs. We build tools that reduce repetitive, laborious tasks into a click of a button. We extract complex rules from people’s heads and program them into lines of code hidden behind intuitive user interfaces. By delegating jobs to the machine, we are freeing our mind to explore works that require more creative input. The idea of keeping the same job for life becomes less realistic as technology advances.

As software consultants, we design and introduce agile practices and tools to our clients. As we improve processes and cut down waste to make teams more efficient, we are also changing how people work. To stay relevant in the workforce, we have to accept that organizations evolve, markets change, and jobs change. Finding ways to make ourselves dispensable is to stay ahead of the curve.

The bottom line is that job security should not come at the expense of us hoarding information and hiding behind jargon, making it difficult for others to replicate our successes. Instead, we can and should direct this energy towards sharing what we know and bettering our craft.

This mentality is what enables the crafters at 8th Light to continue to grow our team through apprenticeship and adding value to our partners and community.

In summary, we are all dispensable and that is a good thing. Having a job is like parenthood. We raise our children to be responsible and independent adults who can take care of themselves when we are not around. Similarly, we have to teach our company to be autonomous and functional long after we moved on with our lives.