When looking at the day-to-day work of most marketing executives all tasks can be somewhat arbitrarily divided into growing the business and getting stuff done. Everyone needs to do some of each but the percentage of work done growing the business will determine how irreplaceable someone is to the organization. Great marketeers find ways to quickly get routine work done and move into the “business growing” world.
Seth Godin would refer to this as either factory work or linchpin work. Factory workers fit in a mold or a system and work the same way as everyone else. Their value is determined by how much work they turn out. In the marketing world this would mean answering emails, sitting in meetings, doing reports, opening jobs, tracking budgets and doing other routine tasks. Linchpins are people who are so unique and so critical to the long-term viability of the enterprise. They keep the wheels on! Marketers do “linchpin” work when they meet with customers, discuss win-win solutions with customers, motivate the sales team, brainstorm and come up with innovative cutting edge ideas for the business and continually look for ways to improve the product offerings.
Factory work is often done in a very structured way with a solid set of rules and guidelines. In fact it is often so structured that those doing the job can be easily replaced. In fact in many ways that is why factories evolved from a world of individual craftsmen and women. Linchpin work on the other hand is so varied that those who do it are very difficult, if not impossible, to replace. People who grow a business are paying their own way and insuring their future.
After a downsizing, it is very interesting to note that most survivors say that the only thing that has changed is that there are fewer people to do the same amount of work. The survivors end up working much harder doing all the stuff they feel needs to get done. Everyone thinks productivity has increased. They are nuts! Productivity hasn’t increased, linchpin work has stopped. In order to get all the factory work done growing the business work has been put on hold. This is why most downsizings fail to deliver and a vicious cycle begins.
The key is to push back and constantly increase the amount of time and effort spent growing the business. Protect your linchpin time. That is where the real value is added to the organization and as marketers you clearly must understand the need for this “differentiation” for your future value.