When you do one thing and one thing only you become a commodity.
We’d like to think we are all indispensable, but the truth is most of us can be replaced.

If all you do is code, there is always someone out there who can code better.
If all you do is analysis, there’s always someone else out there who can do it faster.
If you do is test, there’s always someone else willing to do it cheaper.

To become indispensable you need to be more than a mere title or role.

That doesn’t mean you need to be a master at everything or that project managers need to start coding again.
It just means you don’t have to be defined by a mere title, box, or role.
You’ve got gifts.
The role should fit you.
Not the other way around.

This is how startups work

Startups have always been worked this way.
In a startup there is no QA department—you’re it.
You are engineering, sales, marketing, and customer support all rolled up into one.
There is no customer telling you what to do.
All the accountability and responsibility is on your shoulders—and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some people love working this way

A lot of people are attracted to agile precisely because it free them to be who they are.
The developer who loves to test.
The tester who loves analysis.
The analyst with an eye for design.
Free of the institutionalized way of partitioning work, you are free to serve your customer fully to the best of your ability.
And your art is free to manifest itself in what ever form it takes.

Many don’t

So if being empowered, accountable, and becoming indispensable is so great why isn’t everybody doing it?
Because it’s scary and hard work.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone takes courage.
Taking initiative and thinking for yourself is tough.
There is no map.
It’s way easier to just show up and follow instructions.
This is how most people like to do it.
Which is why they become commodities while you become indispensable.

Know you are more than a title

You know what you need to do.
You see it clearly every day.
Drop your title—become the linchpin you know you can be.
And let others be the commodity.

Special thanks to Seth Godin for helping inspire this post.