Charley Harper 1965
Every company boasts about this person, the only person that can do this one thing. We hold them in high regard because they have processes in place (even if it’s only in their mind) and have tested them in an authentic setting. It’s worked out well.
You know what I’m going to say, right?
It has to stop.
We have to tear down the belief that there’s an “only” in business.
Nobody is the only anything.
The notion, my notion, of being replaceable can rub people the wrong way. Maybe because it sounds like George Clooney in “Up in the Air.”
“We are here to make limbo tolerable, to ferry wounded souls across the river of dread until the point where hope is dimly visible. And then stop the boat, shove them in the water and make them swim.”
So not that. The opposite of that, actually.
I don’t think any human is redundant, and I don’t believe throwing money at tech is a suitable alternative. I am not talking about replacing people OUT. I’m talking about replacing people UP.
Even if somebody’s been with us for years, we have a personal relationship. We like them. They are super talented. We still need to seek replaceability constantly.
I don’t care if it’s a lawyer with 50 years of experience or the most successful copywriter of all time. Nobody is the only anything and can always be replaced or made more replaceable. Now sometimes that does mean out. But the ROI on efficient resource allocation can hold some remarkable benefits.
Here’s what happened today.
I am building an automation for a friend, which is really fun. I realized I hadn’t built a Zap in over a year. I haven’t needed to. But my friend is doing a relatively large financial transaction with over 120 parties and is entering everything manually.
Can you imagine?
Anyway, there have been some challenges. But I have one of the most killer resources around now for automation, and that’s Courtney, my former COO.
When Courtney started working with me, she didn’t know much about automation. But she learned super fast and took on harder, more complex projects when she was on my team. She replaced herself up.
Now that she has her own company, she has taken the skillset so far beyond anything that I’ve done or am probably able to do currently without work. So it was so cool for me to bring her in to help me with this problem yesterday. (Yes. We solved it.)
Sometimes it’s us, the founders, who get team members stuck. Maybe this person you keep working with because you like them could be working on more exciting and higher-level things within your enterprise, or maybe as hard as it might be, somewhere else.
When I have had to do that in several situations, replacing someone out has resulted in that person developing such incredible skills that the relationship morphs into something innovative and inspiring.
Also, binding an individual to your team and your team only is a case of diminishing returns. Why would you want someone only to experience how your “sausage is made”? Wouldn’t you want them to share experiences outside your field of vision that they can bring to the table?
Perspective is the secret weapon of any independent contractor, and we should place an elevated value on it.