Chapter 63. Own the Narrative

Adam Baratz

“My PM doesn’t understand why this project is so hard.”

“My team doesn’t get any of the good projects.”

“Our architecture will collapse within six months.”

“Carryover is a fact of life on this team.”

“We need to replatform to survive peak.”

“We’re making the right investments to survive peak.”

“My tech lead has me over-engineer everything.”

A team is a cacophony of stories. You’ll hear them at obvious times, like during a project kickoff. You’ll hear them as asides in one-on-ones, glossed over without explanation because they’re so “obvious” to the teller. You’ll hear them as jokes in sprint planning sessions, poking fun at tensions between team members. You’ll hear them as people get ready to start a meeting, in standup updates, in email, around the coffee machine. People share stories pretty much whenever they get together.

Stories don’t appear fully formed. They emerge as people draw connections between evidence. Imagine a stakeholder with limited visibility into the activities of a team. They might find the work that they request is frequently delayed and then abruptly deprioritized. They might not think much of it the first time. When it becomes a pattern, the stakeholder begins talking about how the team is unreliable and underperforming.

The team’s tech lead might tell an entirely different story. They eagerly jump on projects, ...

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