Monday, May 16, 2011

Seth Godin may have a few ideas on "Indispensability."

Recently many of my clients and the people I speak with have been asking about “Indispensability.” What is it? What does it mean? How do we go about becoming “…indispensable to our members?”

I think this is a two-step answer. First, I think that it helps to first realize that our members want to become “indispensable” to their organizations, boss, and clients. So we should ask, “How do they become indispensable to their organizations/boss/clients?”

Starting from this point, Seth Godin’s latest work “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” (published by Portfolio/Penguin) offers a recommendation of what an individual’s indispensability may look like. He proposes (on page 218) that these seven characteristics are“…one way to think about the list of what makes you indispensable:

1. Providing a unique interface between members of the organization

2. Delivering unique creativity

3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity

4. Leading customers

5. Inspiring staff

6. Providing deep domain knowledge

7. Possessing a unique talent”

In the workplace, I think we can all appreciate the work the individual must put in to maximize each of these characteristics for themselves. At a certain point, these behaviors elevate the individual’s performance from simply doing a job to an art form – and this is a major thrust of Godin’s book. Those individuals who want to become ‘indispensable’ must become artists who find their inspiration from their own desires to do better.

But isn’t that what members are doing when they join? In most cases, are they not taking a personal step to become more knowledgeable and connected so they can become better?

So, now that we understand at least one definition of “indispensability” (as presented above), when you ask how to make your association “indispensable” to your membership, you need to ask how does your association:

• Go about helping your members achieve each of the seven characteristics?


• Go about executing each of the seven characteristics for their boss…the industry?

If you have any thoughts or questions, I hope you’ll post them. Maybe you can provide examples? I look forward to hearing from you.

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