Should You Make Yourself Obsolete With Automation?

Today I happened across an article discussing how some programmers automate parts of their job so that they need little to no input from themselves to continue doing the tasks they were originally given.

This goes from things like automating data entry jobs to running reports for a whole company.

This got me thinking about my own efforts to automate away my regular work and what the consequences of that may be. In the article, there were a few people who automated their work and then found themselves replaced with a cheaper, less experienced person who would just run the final automated tasks. In most cases, this is probably not the outcome we desire when we start automating our tasks!

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In other cases, the companies recognised the contributions their developers made and promoted them or allowed them more freedom to automate and improve other areas and tasks.

The latter is what I am more interested in and what I am trying to accomplish myself, but I did wonder about all the people out there who could automate a lot of their work and have the skills to do so, but don’t for fear of being replaced or made redundant.

This is a genuine concern and something that I bear in mind while making all these improvements, but also I wouldn’t want to hold myself back from developing a better solution just to keep my current job. If you are working for a company that would replace someone who just added enough value that they could take the person out of their current role, you should probably be looking for other companies to work with anyway.

There are others concerned that companies often have some legal backing to claim ownership of any intellectual property you develop while employed with them. This would certainly leave a bad taste and make you want to keep what you’ve done a secret, but it goes back to my first point that you probably don’t want to work with a company that would claim your own work like that. I would also make a counter-argument that anything that you are able to develop you should be able to develop again in a different way and environment to really claim that it’s your own. If you can only create something as a one-off while working for a company in a particular role or on a particular project, then what you created does actually have very limited use cases and you have only been able to create it as a result of doing that work. In this case, I can see why the company would want to claim that your creation belongs to them.

So really the question about whether you should automate your work depends on your mindset and your goals. If you want to grow, or add value, or free up some time, then you definitely should. If you want to protect your current role and tasks, then you should ask yourself the follow up question: how protected will you be if someone else comes along who can automate your work, or a new tool comes along that can do it?

Better to automate it yourself I think.

Tell me what you think

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