Personal narratives and business alignment

I recently started a new job as an engineering lead at a live-ops game company. My duties include those commonly found associated with engineering management and technical lead roles, as well as a dash of project management.

Among other things, I'm responsible for:

  • the prioritization, scoping and roadmapping of work
  • the establishment of processes and best practices
  • individual and team growth
  • navigating external relationships and dependencies
  • overall quality of the technical implementation of product

In my first month I met with people on my team and around the office, and closely watched process in action. I spent time getting familiar with our codebases, and identified challenges and opportunities in process. I took on my first round of direct reports, which contributed significantly to my understanding where I could best make a difference over the next couple of months.

Having achieved a basic understanding of the state of the codebases, product, team, process, and the goals of the company, it seemed like a good time to draft a personal mission statement for the kind of work I'll be engaged with over the next year or so.

A mission statement is a summation of how your personal narrative aligns with a business narrative. I've found that a deeply held personal narrative is a powerful mechanic in helping drive daily behaviours, which is key for affecting change. A mission statement is also an easy way to tell if you're finding alignment with your manager and with the organization as a whole.

So I took a day, drafted my points and presented it to my directs for an initial round of feedback. I followed up the same with my manager, and then with the CEO during a skip-level one-to-one. After several revisions, I felt confident that I have a good idea of how I can preserve the vitality of the very capable team that I joined, while enabling the next level of growth and success. This is what I came up with:

To nurture an environment where engineers engage in the best work of their career.

To consistently iterate on a live-ops cycle with a focus that minimizes rework, downtime and firefighting and maximizes productivity and innovation.

To provide maximally useful process documentation enabling rapid employee growth and onboarding, resulting in our team becoming a feeder for new teams and successful social games.

To make success achievable for anyone with a growth mindset.

These statements sum up my professional orientation and direction in leading a live-ops engineering team. I'm feeling pretty good about them so far, and they are likely to see another iteration as I keep learning about challenges and opportunities in my environment.