Know your neighbors

Do you know your team's various stakeholders? Do they know you?

It's not enough to know your own scope, your own team, and your immediate surroundings. Your work inherently succeeds or fails based on the first (and even second) degree removed participants – customers of your APIs, stakeholders in the invariants you ensure, the hard and soft dependencies you build atop, and the broader ecosystem you thrive or wither within.

Do you know who your neighbors are? Have you met them, talked to them, built rapport?

Can you ask them for urgent favors, or lean on them to help you out of a jam, or trust that they will assume best intentions from that rushed, slightly-too-harsh Slack message you sent in haste? Do you know what matters to them, where you could improve things for them, and what their most important request is for your team/system?

If you aren't sure who your neighbors are or where things stand, put in the time now to fix that while the pressure is relatively low. Relationships (in real life and at work) live or die in hard times based on the investment you put in during the other seasons. There's no time like now to meet that coworker one team over, have a casual curiosity-first conversation about what is going well/poorly for them, and talk about something you have in common.

You never know when it will matter until you know what matters to them. Start learning.

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