2011 is the Year of the Linchpin

Posted by on Feb 8, 2011 in Book review, Linchpin | 6 Comments

This is not a book review. This is a statement. A confession. A call-to-arms.

I am a Linchpin. It took years to become one, but only minutes to learn what we’re called. My friend Mike Sutton told me last summer I should read the book, but some things need their right moment in time…

I started listening to Seth Godin‘s book “Linchpin—Are you indispensable?” two weeks ago. I basically started my year with it. And I can not remember any non-fiction book resonating as strongly with me. I’ve given away three copies of it to friends and recommended it to numerous others since. And I have not even finished it. That’s why I decided that this year, 2011, my year, is going to be the year of the Linchpin.

Last week, I started to look for Linchpin references on the web—among other reasons to look for a German translation of the term. I stumbled upon the following text, here, written by Seth “for posting, sharing, emailing or instigating”:

The Linchpin Manifesto

Yes. Now. I am an artist. • I take initiative. • I do the work, not the job. • Without critics, there is no art. • I am a Linchpin. I am not easily replaced. • If it’s never been done before, even better. • The work is personal, too important to phone in. • The lizard brain is powerless in the face of art. I make it happen. Every day. • Every interaction is an opportunity to make a connection. • The past is gone. It has no power. The future depends on choices I make now. • I own the means of production—the system isn’t as important as my contribution to it. • I see the essential truth unclouded by worldview, and that truth drives my decisions. • I lean into the work, not away from it. Trivial work doesn’t require leaning. • Busywork is too easy. Rule-breaking works better and is worth the effort. • Energy is contagious. The more I put in, the more the world gives back. It doesn’t matter if I’m always right. It matters that I’m always moving. • I raise the bar. I know yesterday’s innovation is today’s standard. • I will not be brainwashed into believing in the status quo. • Artists don’t care about credit. We care about change. • There is no resistance if I don’t allow it to defeat me. • I embrace a lack of structure to find a new path. • I am surprising. (And often surprised). • I donate energy and risk to the cause. • I turn charisma into leadership. The work matters. • Go. Make something happen.

Reformatting by me. Instigating is exactly what I’m starting to do now. So…

Beware of the Linchpin

I am a Change Agent. I inspire people to improve the way they work. I inspire managers to make their organisations more effective. “Prepare to be surprised” is a motto I live and work by (and it goes both ways!). Another one I’ve been using for a while is “I do good. I don’t do nice.” by Granny Weatherwax (probably the most effective coach on Discworld) in “I shall wear Midnight” by Terry Pratchett.

I am an Agile Coach. That means I can listen better than most—especially to what you don’t tell—and I will ask powerful questions. When you tell me your goals, and how you plan to reach them, I might look you in the eyes and say, “Yes, you could do it that way.” But if you don’t notice the intended meaning of that sentence… Prepare to be told why I think it’s actually not a brilliant idea. I am not a personal life coach. Not when I work, anyway.

Does an Agile Coach need to be a linchpin? Yes, I honestly think so. And I pondered a while on that question. Tell me what you think!

How do you work with a Linchpin?

Your best bet of the most awesome effort being put to your work is if we (the Linchpins) adopt your work as the source of our satisfaction. If not, no amount of money or inducement will make it work.
Linchpins live by our own rules – the successful ones anyway. We are generally fair. Speak honestly, give us respect and trust us to do our very best for you and we will get on swimmingly.


Another tip: some Linchpins crave feedback. I do, anyway. I don’t care if it’s good or bad, I love it, because I strive for continuous, or, better, disruptive, improvement. Being attuned to feedback drives me. If you like what I do, tell me! If you don’t, don’t be nice about it. But show me the respect of giving honest feedback!

Linchpins crave respect as well. As long as the work is challenging, interesting, I’ll put my heart and soul into it. Maybe I’ll do it for the sake of the job even if I don’t earn respect from whomever I’m doing it for. But that will not last long. You have been warned. If you need someone to make a difference, I’m your man. If you want to create sustainable change that sticks, I’m your man. But don’t cheat me.


I am who I am and what I am because of friends I love and value. Some of them helped with this post, implicitly and explicitly. And two of these need to be mentioned: Mike Sutton and Tobias Mayer gave me precious and honest feedback on the first version of this post. Thank you.



  1. William Gill
    February 8, 2011

    Love it.

    Love the book, and love your open statement.

    We need more linchpins!

  2. Samantha Laing
    February 9, 2011

    Linchpins are also *deeply* passionate about what and why they do things – and I see this in you everyday via twitter 🙂
    Enjoy the ride – I hope its a long, scenic one!

  3. agile42 | Awesome Coach of the Week: Marc Löffler
    June 11, 2011

    […] called “Food for Thought”. I loved the series from the first post, it distilled so much Linchpin attitude into practical tips for life, including a bit of Agile now and then… I very much […]

  4. agile42 | Awesome Coach of the Week: Yves Hanoulle
    June 17, 2011

    […] know, like I do, that this type of investment pays back with a great benefit:-) But I do love this Linchpin […]

  5. agile42 | Awesome Coach of the Week: Sebastian Schürmann
    July 1, 2011

    […] The fact that this company has gone farther than most I’ve visited so far on their path towards an agile organisation and leadership mindset is based on his constant grip on the roots. Add to that very strong personal relationships with many people, risking to offend anyone, always fighting for the right values and good cause… Sebastian created one of the awesomest compliments I’ve ever heard about one of his collegues: “He’ll disobey anyone if required.” That sentence applies to him more than anyone I know. A true Linchpin! […]

  6. agile42 | Agile With a Purpose
    January 12, 2012

    […] Prepare to be astonished! […]


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