Helping Teams Stay Focused on APIs While Also Being Able To See the Whole Enterprise

I was talking with John Kilgore our product manager at Postman for the Postman API Network about strategies for making APIs more visible across teams, meeting teams where they are and enabling them to be more successful, while also being able to show where teams fit into the bigger picture. John had a great way of describing a literal picture to help inform and ground these different scopes of our API operations. As John was talking I was picturing a busy city landscape with many things going on, all rolling up to a single larger image landscape. Providing me with a great analogy for guiding how we have a conversation around APIs, providing something I’ll keep workshopping until I find just the right narrative and set of visuals to drive home the different scopes that exist across the enterprise.

It is tough for developers to see the big picture. Without access to information and conversations at higher levels, developers are often left in the dark regarding the role they play in the larger business operations. Sometimes this is good, but often times this is bad. Some teams should be left alone and enabled to do what they do best in their focused area of enterprise operations.

You really want teams staying focused on their contribution to the bigger landscape. You don’t want to overload your teams with too much knowledge about the wider landscape they operate, but you also don’t want to unnecessarily silo off teams from opportunities to learn from other teams. Ultimately it is all about finding balance in how you paint the bigger picture, and share it across steams.

For me, this discussion around the scope of our API operations is much more than just defining each individual teams role in the overall enterprise landscape, but also helping me define the bigger picture. Each pixel makes up part of the image, and the resolution or lack of resolution for each pixel which change what the overall enterprise will look like when you zoom out.

I really like this analogy. It allows me to use a mix of words and images to help zoom in and zoom out across API operations. This really is my greatest challenge today. I regularly get vertigo when it comes to switching between conversations I am having throughout the day. I regularly screw up presentations because I am pitching at the wrong level to the wrong audience. You tend to get blank stares from folks who are completely unaware that they exist on the enterprise moving through time and space, and you end up with frustrated business and technical leadership when you get into the finer points quantum mechanics around the engineering or the complexities of painting 1701 on the side of the enterprise in outer space.

I am going to make a handy guide for this analogy that I can hang on the wall to help orient me daily. Then I’ll keep workshopping different sets of images and narratives here until I find the right combination. I feel like the scope element of our API conversations is contribution to the greatest friction across our operations when it comes to finding forward momentum. We just don’t have a well defined framework to discuss scope. We also don’t have any way for teams to explore this scope in a self-service way. Which brings me back to the Postman API Network, and the role it plays in helping teams stay focused on the moving parts for each area of operation, while also being able to explore and zoom out to see across teams and across operations. This is why networks will go well beyond the concept of a portal when it comes to the impact it has on the enterprise.