Notes on narrative for engineering leaders

Alex Reeve, 22 Principles for Great Product Managers:

You have to own the narrative. When there’s a narrative vacuum, people will “creatively” fill in the blanks themselves—and you might not like it. Losing control of the narrative can be incredibly disruptive to your team’s ability to deliver.

– (Alex Reeve, 22 Principles for Great Product Managers)

Same goes for plans & projects. If you don’t have a plan, someone else will. You may not like their plan.

Telling the story of a goal/project/initiative isn’t manipulation1, it’s setting the vision.

All narratives compress out important details and trade-offs as an expense of clarity and noteworthiness (i.e. an un-memorable narrative is not a particularly good narrative).

Narrative is is a fantastic skill to have as an engineering leader. The more you can convey your ideas, goals, projects, and initiatives as a narrative, the more you can get people on the same page. It’s also a fun skill to acquire. It’s all around us in culture. It’s one of the few things where you can improve in your profession by paying attention to how movies, television, or fiction are structured. (Highly recommended: Every Frame a Painting)

  1. Bad-faith narrative construction exists, please don’t act in bad faith.
Adam Keys @therealadam