Chapter 52. Management Is a Different Set of APIs

Raquel Vélez

When folks ask me what engineering management is like, I boil it down to three things:

  1. Unfortunately, as you probably already know, people. (I stole this from a sign in my old office. It featured a horse knitting a scarf that said “Oakland.” The quote originally came from @horse_ebooks on Twitter.)

  2. Management is not a promotion. It’s a career change.

  3. It’s a lot like engineering, if you abstract it out enough.

Let’s dig into #3.

I want you to imagine that a person is a service. (This will be easier if you have worked at a company with a service-oriented architecture. If you’ve worked only at companies with monolith codebases, consider them a function with multiple parameters and extrapolate from there.)

This person-service gets spun up upon joining your team. You don’t control the box; you control only the environment in which it resides. Your first task is to learn the API required to send and receive data from this box.

For sending, it might take some time before you figure out just the exact parameters and payloads to send. This is perfectly normal. You can reduce the time to first “Hello World” by reading the documentation (e.g., asking questions): learn about the person-service. Sometimes, person-services are self-aware enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, person-services are brand ...

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