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I did my job with love and belief. This was always obviously risky. I had no illusions that the love was returned, or that it is even possible for a public corporation of non-trivial scale to behave in human ways at all.  

It's easy to find cogent advice for how to modulate your emotional attachment to your job, so that losing it is not like losing a part of yourself. I cheerfully recommend ignoring this. The world is better if everybody does their jobs with love and commitment. You definitely want everybody who does a job that affects you to do it with love, so lead by example. This method will result in sporadic stabs of excruciating pain, but the parts of you you lose to jobs regrow quickly, even if you sometimes have to rub some numbing ointment on the wounds for a while.  

The advice industry, like most modern industries, encodes a sneaky bias to sustain corporatism by implicitly casting individual adaptation as the only medium for change. Good luck finding books that somberly advise corporations on how to encourage a dangerous reliance on unsupervised individual inspiration. I have to get a new job now, or something of the sort, but that's only one small problem to solve. The company I no longer work at has to sort through a thousand things I used to do, almost all of which I did because I thought they ought to get done, and then other people came to depend on them because I was right. A large company would probably never hire someone into a role with this little structure, but the startup where I began was inherently based on the individual efforts of its founders and other early employees, and once we were acquired I just kept doing the job my way and it took 10 years for somebody to stop me.  

This is problematic, clearly. A company needs to be able to treat its employees as interchangeable and expendable, both individually and collectively. It needs to be able to periodically layoff 17% of its workforce to cut its margin overhead by 1% and temporarily boost its stock price by 5%, without having to endure existential upheaval to its ongoing business processes. It needs to be able to double and redouble recklessly in size for the same dubious market reasons, without those people all piling up in the lobby where their chaos is visible from the street. Both expansions and contractions are actions of corporate musculature, flexed as much for show as for motive.  

The key to these flexibilities, as we have understood at least since Henry Ford, is to formalize the operational roles so that their function in the overall system is symbolic and anonymous. As long as people are just units inserted into well-defined slots, the machinery doesn't need to care who they are.  

But the resulting machine, because it operates symbolically on abstract definitions, cannot readily adapt. It needs to "innovate", we know, but if you bring a new idea to a well-organized unit in a corporate machine, it will efficiently reroute you into a well-defined pipeline for queuing up potential future input for consideration two quarters from now, because the defining quality of a well-organized unit in a well-organized organization is that it already has its next six months of work fully prioritized in alignment with established corporate goals.  

Whereas if you came to me with a new idea, or an unanswered question whose answer might suggest new ideas, or a problem that might be solved by something I already figured out, I would listen to you, and ask some questions, and gradually pivot my body towards my keyboard as we talked until eventually I started typing. Sometimes, after a minute of this, I would say "Sorry, I'm still listening, but give me five minutes and let me see what I can figure out." Occasionally I'd have to say "This is interesting, but it's kind of complicated. Can I poke at it a bit and get back to you tomorrow?" I could do new things because my inquiries weren't prescribed. I was prepared to solve unexpected problems because I spent most of my time unexpecting things and seeing where that took me.  

There are, of course, books about corporate agility. There are ways to keep the latency for change to smaller increments than quarters or even months. But none of them advise you to find individual people who happen to be able to do pertinent unique work on the fly, just because they have the right combination of skills and knowledge and stubbornness. You can't sell a book of methodology in which a crucial step is "Luck into anomalous contributors". Anomalies are exactly what prudent processes attempt to preclude.  

But everybody is better off if companies ignore this caution with the same exuberant disregard as people doing their jobs with inadvisable devotion. The most transformational human ideas begin in individual hearts, whatever gantlets of brainstorming and strategic opportunity-analysis they subsequently have to run. Spotify was more right, I think, to tolerate my curiosities and experiments for 10 years than they were to finally give up on them out of exasperation or ignorance. Spotify, like probably every other interesting company, only exists because a few people once had unruly unsupervised impulses that the better-organized status quo couldn't accommodate. The secret truth of business advice is that it's mostly about how to grimly extract residual value from the luck you already had, and the unearned love you were already unguardedly given, because there's really no method for making more of it.
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