From technical resource to creative force (Letter No. 12)

Hey Tech Leads–

In case you didn’t notice, it’s Friday!

When I think back on the week and the things I’ve done and haven’t, the technical, “hard” parts of my job get predictably done — things like paper work, contracts, scheduling, proposals, Trello cards, Google forms, stuff like that. When I was a day to day software engineer, it was usually my stories, tasks, reporting, stuff like that. Strangely, I can barely remember any of these things because most of them are so forgettable or minimally impactful.

But when I think about the things I didn’t get done (or wish I’d done better), it’s squishier tasks like creatively finding projects that will feed into my company’s vision, long term investments in my people, sending out all those kudos I owe, consistently articulating the vision on my projects to stakeholders, etc. But I remember most of them clearly — setting up a weekly tech lead call for our senior consultants is of one of the most exciting, for example.

If you think about it though, the “hard,” clearly defined work I’m doing today was the result of someone’s “soft” vision yesterday (maybe even my own). For instance, today I need to wrap up scheduling and logistics for an architect I’m sending to a client next week to help with their newly containerized world and how to increase their agility through CI/CD and even blue-green deployment. That was a vision that both my client I had a long time ago. Today only logistics remain, but they’re animating yesterday’s vision.

Peter Drucker said managers (and by extension, tech leads) are the most important, creative force in a company. While front-line people produce the day to day results, only managers have the capability to both visualize and mobilize the company’s resources (e.g., its people and its hard assets) to accomplish the company’s mission.

As a tech lead, you’re in a position to have a huge impact on the company and the product you’re working on. But it’s the vision you define today that creates tomorrow’s work — so dream of a better tomorrow and put it in motion today (ok, you can wait until Monday)!

Have a great weekend, tech leads!

-michael

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