As leads, we almost always have the vision clearly in our heads–or we should. Our engineers probably do not.
You (hopefully) have all three of the components of a clear and compelling vision your head almost all the time–the what, the how, and the why. We are probably having conversations with managers or other stakeholders where you talk about the vision to constantly align the work with the rest of the company or the client’s needs.
If you are using effective tracking and adjusting behaviors, you have a pretty good idea of where each engineer or person on your team is against that vision or goal. You probably also talk about where the team is in terms of status against where you thought you need to be on the project plan, whatever form that takes for you.
Your engineers are not thinking about the vision as much as you are
Now, think back to when you were an engineer or individual contributor. What was your view of the world? It was probably something like the following.
You had a task or story to work on and you probably had a pretty good idea of how much work it was going to take and whether it was going to be on time.
You’re focused on trying to get all the pieces and parts to come together. Maybe you’re standing up an API or trying to integrate with one. You’re wiring up unit tests (hopefully). You’re flipping back and forth on git repos and branches, trying to get pull requests approved, and generally just trying to get stuff built.
You’re worried about whether your code is going to pass a code review or what your tech lead or other teammates are going to say about the choices, decisions, and code you’ve written. You’re balancing the need to get things done now with the need to do really high quality work and trying to keep track of the tech debt you’re incurring.
Oh, and if you’re a a junior developer, you might still be learning some fairly fundamental stuff and struggling with obscure things, like why your React component won’t render the data the way you thought it would. Maybe you’re spending a lot of time on Stackoverflow.
In short, as an individual contributor or engineer, you’re probably not thinking a lot about the vision for project and you might forget as you’re mired in all the details.
Beacuse of this, as a tech lead, it is YOUR responsibility to constantly remind the team WHAT, HOW, and WHY we are doing what we are doing, not the engineers’ responsibility.
Most importantly, it’s Taco Tuesday!
What do you think? Do you repeat the vision often?