This is the up-to-date version of the Being Glue slides. The old ones are on SlideShare. (SlideShare doesn’t allow editing slides after you’ve uploaded them!) There is a video of this talk at .

Sketchnotes by Denise Yu

Denise Yu made these incredibly beautiful sketchnotes of my talk at Lead Developer. I’m in awe of her skills. I love this so much I don’t even have the words.


Being Glue originated as a comment on an internal Google+ post when I worked at Google. I’d used the expression “glue work” in passing, and someone asked what I meant by it. The reply became a standalone post and then an internal document.

A couple of years later, I proposed it as a talk for Write/Speak/Code NYC. I’d left Google by then and wasn’t at all sure it would resonate with folks in other companies. Apparently it did :-)

I’ve given this talk at a bunch of other places. Check out my talks page, or mail me if you want it at a meetup or company near you.

Talk Abstract:

Your job title says "software engineer", but you seem to spend most of your time in meetings. You'd like to have time to code, but nobody else is onboarding the junior engineers, updating the roadmap, talking to the users, noticing the things that got dropped, asking questions on design documents, and making sure that everyone's going roughly in the same direction. If you stop doing those things, the team won't be as successful. But now someone's suggesting that you might be happier in a less technical role. If this describes you, congratulations: you're the glue. If it's not, have you thought about who is filling this role on your team?

Every senior person in an organisation should be aware of the less glamorous - and often less-promotable - work that needs to happen to make a team successful. Managed deliberately, glue work demonstrates and builds strong technical leadership skills. Left unconscious, it can be career limiting. It can push people into less technical roles and even out of the industry.

Let's talk about how to allocate glue work deliberately, frame it usefully and make sure that everyone is choosing a career path they actually want to be on.


(💖💖💖Thank so much to the organisers of the amazing Lead Developer conference where I presented this version of these slides. Thank you also to the organizers of the equally amazing Write/Speak/Code conference who accepted the first iteration of this talk. You are wonderful folks and I so appreciate the work you do. 💖💖💖)