Recent insight into the machinations of the corporate world
After reading lee_chaos' posts about teaching, and many other people's work-related posts, and tying in my own experience, I come to the following rather interesting conclusions:
When you start your career, you are given very defined work to do, there is a definite answer, and you are not allowed to get it wrong.
As you progress, your work becomes less well defined, but people are prepared to accept that you don't know all of it yourself - it becomes a job of mining the knowledge out of others in your company and in companies you do business with. Quite a lot of your job then involves business politics, models and strategies. You are allowed to give a more vague answer.
Finally then, at the peak of your career, by extrapolation, you are no longer using any of your own technical knowledge, instead meta-managing others to provide the answers. You have abstracted the work your company does into a metaphorical ship, which you steer through foggy seas completely blindly, guided only by those working for you to do things like fan the fog away on one side or the other, or look out for things like treasure or other ships (which you might capture), while trawling your nets through the sea of customers. You have a vague idea where you want to fish.
No wonder the CEO of the first big company I worked for played with model trains a lot. I want to start off at the top and work my way down. That seems to make a lot more sense to me.