Your DPM is lonely*

Candace Myers
3 min readApr 25, 2022

*alternate names: your RPM is lonely, your Prod Ops is lonely, your Producer is lonely

full cartoon here

Ok at this point you are certainly saying to yourself, “People write about what they know. Candace is lonely.”

My answer is, “yeah sorta.” Here’s the thing, I support a team of multiple amazing design operations humans and I have the agency to ensure that we actively account for ops isolation. Are you accounting for loneliness on your ops team?

Why should you care? Well, as Adam Grant puts it so eloquently in his tweet, loneliness makes us feel invisible. This feeling of invisibility can be particularly acute in UX & creative operations because a core function if our role is to seamlessly solve the problems of an organization behind the scenes. All the ops folx reading this know: when it’s quiet, you’re doing a great job. The lack of signal IS the signal that your team is humming along.

The unique nature of creative operations work, coupled with the fact that singular ops people cover many high altitude initiatives, has the effect of stranding our IC’s on an island.

UX operations is somewhat unique in that typically our ratio to our cross-functional counterparts is quite small. Take my current org Netflix Studio XD for instance, we have 3 DPM IC’s and 60-ish designers, that is a 20:1 ratio. In my time on Facebook App the ratio was more like 10:1. Being a function of 1 on a large team is the perfect recipe for loneliness.

Ratios aside, our remit and craft can also contribute to ops folx feeling lonely or isolated in our work. The typical DPM IC manages programs over larger State or Federal product or leadership nodes. This is a highly unique function that doesn’t typically have consistent day-to-day collaborators or partners. Contrast that with your average designer or PM who are day-to-day or sometimes hour-to-hour dependent on collaboration with other designers, other PM’s and large ENG teams.

Loneliness in the workplace is damaging to our wellness and sucks the inspiration and life from our teams, ultimately driving attrition. One critical indicator of an effective leader is retention, and in less self-serving-to-managers news, operations folks are some of the most difficult to replace once they leave a team.

So now that you feel slightly panicked that your ops jewel is awash in a sea of solitude, let’s talk solutions.

Here are a few VERY basic tactics you can employ to keep your Ops team connected and close:

  • Regularly cadenced “Ops Critique”: Ops crit is the same as design crit! Someone shares their work (a program brief, a communication strategy, a change management strategy), you discuss what works, opportunities to make it better, and connect it with other things happening around the ops team. Nothing fosters inspiration and connection like talking shop!
  • Ops Task Forces: Ops task forces are a great way for operations folx to work together and collaborate for the benefit of the discipline and ops community. I’ve seen task forces drive all kinds of amazingness, from discipline charters, to running ops summits and coordinating community volunteer efforts! Working with other ops peeps bridges operational islands and focuses the impact for the good of the community and discipline. Also, who cuts the barber’s hair? Sometimes we need to focus on us!
  • Ops ONLY All Hands: bear with me, because this seems very basic, but you’d be shocked by how many ops teams don’t have discipline level All Hands! Is your discipline coming together to share a vision in service of operational cogency and influence? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow the humans in your ops Org and the community.

p.s. I suspect our partners in HR feel similarly. I believe this thinking can be applied to many disciples at companies big and small.

p.s. Adam Grant’s Work Life covers this topic beautifully

**all hail the typo queen 👑



Candace Myers

Pinterest, Facebook, & Netflix design & creative operations. Never backed down from a work challenge, & I’ve failed a lot. Rich in insights, typos & tattoos.