Industry offered a deal to the worker:
Here’s a job. We’ll pay you as little as we can get away with while still being able to fill the job. We’ll make sure it’s easy to find people for this job, because we don’t want you to have much in the way of power or influence. We’ll use software to read the resumes, and we’ll do it in huge batches.
In return, you’ll work as little as you can get away with. That’s the only sane way to respond to the role of being a cog. If the system is going to squeeze you, no need to volunteer.
It’s hard to over-estimate the impact that this deal has had. The whole idea of mass advertising for mass jobs. The compliance-based school and resume system. The apparent power of the big companies to dictate the culture of work…
But, over time, the economy has changed. Now, the most cog-like jobs are done by machines. Now, cog-like work doesn’t create nearly as much value as truly human work. Now, if the opportunity is right, the pay is fair and the cause is a good one, it’s possible to create a culture where people choose to contribute as much as they can, not as little as they can.
This requires a shift.
Two shifts, actually.
The first shift is for the employer. It means not only paying more compensation to capture the attention and focus of the people who are willing and able to do Linchpin work, it also means investing in a culture that supports that sort of work. Compliance isn’t as important as contribution. But it’s frightening, because turnover costs more when you’re dependent on people who bring special magic to work.
The second shift is on the employee. It means caring enough to walk away from a cog job. It means being brave enough to make assertions and to lead. It means telling the truth about your background and your future. And it means keeping your end of the bargain, even when the work feels scary.
Here’s our experiment:
A weekly email newsletter with one or two jobs a week in it. That’s all.
Even if you’re not looking for a Linchpin job, you probably have peers who are. After all, that’s the sort of person you are–you know how to spread good ideas. So feel free to forward the email to people when you think it might be a good fit.
When we started working on this project, we reached out to a few possible employers to get us started. We specified that it had to be a special job for a special kind of work, and we insisted that the employer make a personal video, one that described what the job entailed.
I knew we were on to something when one said, “oh, it’s not worth the effort, we just posted the job on a job board and got five people who were good enough.”
That’s precisely the jobs we don’t want to post.
If you’re interested in checking out our first job and signing up for the newsletter, here’s the link.
We’ll never sell you anything or rent or share your information. The newsletter is sponsored by the altMBA. Over time, we hope that our subscribers will also be our best source for the jobs we list.
Inspired by my book Linchpin.
For more than thirty years, I’ve been trying to turn on lights, inspire people and teach them how to level up. This blog has been appearing daily for more than a decade. One day, if we meet, I hope you’ll share with me your favorite posts. Even better, I’d like to hear about how a book or course helped you interact with the world differently and make a difference.