This leads to a rat race where everyone is left to compete for “impact”. “Impact” is the word used by your manager to defer to yourself, and yourself only, the responsibility of justifying your existence because there’s not enough meaningful work for everybody. In a functional organization, whose staffing grows along with the demands of the business as opposed to political empires, it should be the other way around.
This ultimately causes horrible changes in behavior from the ICs themselves, who have no other choices than playing the game: extreme competition, backstabbing, stealing of ideas and credit, comical self-promotion (e.g., you fix a trivial bug in one hour and then waste a week writing a pointless 10-page doc about it so that you can use it at perf time to justify how much you did or send it via email to your management chain), etc.
I’ve seen so much of it that I was thinking of starting a blog or a $4.99 ebook sharing all the situations I’ve witnessed during my tech career.
Actual innovation is quite wasteful and you wind up going down a lot of dead ends where all you can really say at the end is "well I guess thats one way to not make a lightbulb". This is a land for obsessive nerds.
But if your goal is the next promotion or more headcount you can't afford to take that kind of risk. Instead orgs wind up optimizing for pretend work that makes a great powerpoint at the end of the quarter. Remaining energy gets spent on trying to backstab or downplay other projects - competing for a perceived limited pie, rather than trying to make more pie.
You have tens of thousands of brilliant and motivated engineers striving to find something to make better so... why are all the things so.... not-that-good?