“It had taken him a while to decode it […] but he’d eventually figured out that this, in the end, was the reason that Corporation 9592 had no choice but to keep him around. Every other thing that he had done for the company […] could be done better and more cheaply by someone who could be recruited by a state-of-the-art head-hunting firm. His role, in the end, had been reduced to this one thing: sitting in the corner of meeting rooms or lurking on corporate email lists, seeming not to pay attention, growing ever more restless and surly until he blurted something out that offended a lot of people and caused the company to change course. Only later did they see the shoals on which they would have run aground if not for Richard’s startling and grumpy intervention.

This was one of those times.”

from Reamde by Neal Stephenson

I just finished Reamde, it has sat on my shelf for more than a year but once I started it I could not put it down. Neal Stephenson makes a number of thoughtful observations, describing real situation with grace. This passage in particular stood out for me, capturing not only the psychology but the unique value technical entrepreneurs can bring in a larger firm.