hyperbo.la :: Communicating with the Synthesis Step

Communicating with the Synthesis Step

Ryan Lopopolo | August 20, 2019

Every time you communicate an idea, you are engaging in stakeholder management. Stakeholder management is the process of making sure those with a vested interest in your work know what to expect. The method I use for managing expectations is something I refer to as The Synthesis Step, or don't make your stakeholders do the hard work of figuring out what you are trying to tell them.


The more work you do as a writer, the more effectively you can control what you'd like readers to take away from your writing. Usually this involves saying more than the what and moving toward a set of higher-level take-aways.

It is not enough to write code or go to meetings or read emails or send notes. True value comes from being able to tell stakeholders a story about why these things are important.

To use myself as an example, at work I subscribe to 51 email groups and 64 Slack channels. Information triage is an important part of my workflow. Dumping raw meeting notes to a list that are only consumable by the notetaker is not valuable for me. The decision to send the notes to a list implies communication with stakeholders. Tell me what you want me to know; don't make me figure it out for myself.

From 'what' to ...

Each set of stakeholders has different interests and needs. Those meeting notes might be from a meeting between engineering and design about exposing new payouts settings in the Stripe Dashboard.

  • The project lead and some of the engineering team need to know about the implementation choices made in this meeting. These should end up as Jira tickets.
  • The engineering team and the design team care about the outcome of the meeting: what was agreed upon, who is doing what, how the work will be scheduled. These should end up on an email sent to both teams.
  • The company does not care about progress on the implementation; they only care when the project ships. The company should receive no communication.

This is a lot of work, but project leads that target stakeholders with relevant updates provide a lot of value. Project leads are integration points that do fan-in/fan-out between the project team and external stakeholders.