It seems to me that the mortar-type folks are more valued at smaller organizations.
In my experience, the larger a company grows, the greater the pressure to make people be "bricks", in the parlance of the post -- label or categorize individuals, view them as "resources", and consider them fungible.
Is this the inevitable result of company growth? I hope not, since I'd rather be mortar than brick!
Completely agree Matt. As I'm the only designer at my company, I'm the 'mortar' of the company. As we have grown the company has tried to push me into more of a pigeon holed role to conform with the rest of the company. However, that's not really worked out too well!!
It's a real adjustment to go from a company where you're clearly mortar to one where you're expected to be a brick—even a company that practices agile development.
I originally left because I felt my "mortar-ness" wasn't fully appreciated, but I eventually returned and I couldn't be happier.
I feel like being mortar also gives you many more opportunities for career advancement. I've got a pretty unique background, and it's served me well at this company. My skills with design, content, product and other areas were of little benefit in the back-end engineering-focused department I left for. Unless I was a brick when it came to Ruby, there was no chance of moving into leadership.
We're finding this exact problem as we're recruiting. What we need is a 'mortar' person - but that makes even putting a title to the job description awkward. We ended up using 'UX designer' because it was the closest match to the kind of thing we're looking for...
Oh man, wonder if LinkedIn would take 'Junior Mortar' as a job title. I agree completely with the article, as I came in a designer, but now do a fair amount of development and client management. I struggle to describe my job, because I'm not a developer but I do a lot of these tasks.