Our Head of Design Ops at Automattic, Alison Rand, is passionate about the idea of PPMs. Alison introduced me to the concept a few months ago, and I immediately gravitated to it but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I guess it’s because I’ve always believed in the paradigm of education as an enabler — and so for everyone to have a PPM seemed normal and natural to me.

But I realize that being in a work environment that supports a PPM depends upon two factors: 1) The organizational culture, and 2) Your boss.

I’ve been fortunate to be in situations where having a PPM that differed from the institution I was at was generally acceptable, and when I wasn’t allowed to have one that I could execute on with support … then I would make it happen on my own. That is how I got my MBA — there was no easy path for me to go and get one because my bosses thought I didn’t need one, but it was in my version of a PPM to want to fully understand money. And I don’t regret having pursued that PPM with force when I was younger. So I am a PPM fan — it motivates you to push yourself further.

So this passage from John W. Gardner’s “Excellence” (1984) is esp apropos:

“What we are suggesting is that every institution in our society should contribute to the growth of the individual. Every institution must, of course, have its own purposes and preoccupations, but over and above everything else that it does, it should be prepared to answer the question posed by society: What is your institution doing to foster the development of the individual within it?” (p 128)

Alison will be sharing about her adventures here at Automattic on her road to building our Design Ops team. Stay tuned! —JM

Posted by John Maeda

I'm a learner. By training.