Chapter 10. Connect “The What” to “The Why”

Jeremy Wight

As an engineering leader, you have many projects and tasks demanding your time; some you want to do, and some you need to do. In the midst of planning meetings, scoping and estimating, researching, designing specifications, meeting with cross-functional leaders, one-on-ones, performance reviews, status updates, and more, there is much to fill an engineering managers time. With all of that, it’s easy to lose focus on your highest-leverage activity:

The highest leverage activity of an engineering manager is making sure that the engineers who report to them have clarity, alignment, and ultimately understand “The Why” to “The What.”

The What is the work in which the team engages on a daily basis. Clarity gives people an understanding of how they accomplish the root of the request. Alignment ensures that what they are working on fits into the broader scope of work that the team and business are executing upon. But The Why allows an individual to truly understand the impact of their work. The Why affords them the depth of insight needed to create truly innovative solutions and serves as a wellspring of empathetic user-driven motivation.

Given the amazing impact of connecting The What with The Why, how come it is so often overlooked? Busyness and lack of awareness. Managers are often so overwhelmed that it is easy to forget. ...

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