Inspiring advice and anecdote. The problem is that few organizations have the capacity to pivot like that...that is, the people whose work you've made redundant or easier don't get moved to different duties...because of poor management or initiative on the individual's part. If only more organizations and bureaucracies were able to see created-efficiencies as a way to re-allocate resources, rather than cut costs.
Yes, it comes down to 'enlightened management' - but it's also economic sensible; if someone is able to save money in one place, they'll probably be able to do the same for other parts of the business, and so are worth keeping around.
Years later they are still using my dirty scripts :)
That's key. The more difficult situation is when it takes more time to write the script than it does to do the darn thing. In that situation when people are strapped for cash and resources, guess which they'll choose if they don't have vision and backbone to endure the short-term pain. In day-to-day operations, people would rather not endure the short-term pain because everything needs to be done yesterday, especially in poorly managed organizations. Of course, the gems will eventually leave the poorly managed organizations too.
† the http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-pro...
The OP is not actually advocating making "yourself" redundant, but rather make your role (and/or subsequent functions) redundant. There are many functions in business processes today that be made redundant with technology. Typically companies hire business process experts (i.e. "consultants") to do this...but that's another story.
So maybe the OP is just suggesting to become a consultant?
In fact, I became a consultant - but for niches other than business process. Maybe what I'm advocating is that people should think about their role in the way that a consultant might.
This is such excellent advice that I wish it was present in the post. I've been advocating this kind of thought (with much more awkward phrasing) to my friends and family for a while now.
But as I think about it, wouldn't it make sense to boil it down a little? "What I advocate is that people think."
From the article: investing a little to upgrade a computer or a piece of equipment saves time for a lot of people. It was obvious, right?
The trick is that he was thinking about ways to improve it. I don't really want to argue the pros and cons of Adam Smith and the "invsibile hand" here. I'm just a believer in people's capability to innovate, to think.
And if you have people who are obviously not doing this, before getting rid of them (which is important, if you end up with no alternative) -- try to think about what they bring to the company. It might surprise you where they've made improvements.
I've even come to think that a lot of the highest level executive activities (e.g. corporate development, strategy, etc) can be significantly improved in terms of the time required to execute.
Higher level problems are generally more abstract and certainly more politically charged, but I believe if one carries a "hacker" mentality to work every day you'll find ways to radically improve performance.
I'm desparately trying to remember who it was who wrote the article about how - when employing someone new - you should explicitly work with them on the assumption that they won't be around for ever - so what do they want to achieve while they are there and what do you want them to achieve. It muight have been Joel, but I can't find it. Anyone?
I whole heartedly endorse the idea of figuring out ways to make your job redundant so that you can move on to other more interesting things.
Although I think they'd both agree on the goal of always looking to do interesting work, contributing to projects like a human being instead of doing cookie-cutter work, etc.. I can't help but think they'd also have some profound differences of opinion on how to get there.
It is a game of musical chairs, and you need be sure to be in a seat every time the music stops. Make yourself or others redundant, and you make the company happy. For a while, until the next round.
Centralized technology is making jobs redundant at an incredible pace.