Interfacing with Humans: How to Manage in Prod Ops

Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 11:00am12:30pm

Connie-Lynne Villani, Grilled Cheese Invitational


Whether you call it Prod Ops, System Engineering, or simply "keeping it all working," ops managers face some particular challenges. How do you build new projects and services while solving all the production emergencies caused by the old, broken infrastructure? How do you juggle the demands of other teams in the company while keeping the site running? Above all, how do you give your team agency and keep them happy in a high-­pressure, distraction-­driven, 24x7 environment? You will learn practical skills and techniques for the human side of Ops in this mini­-tutorial.

This tutorial breaks down prod ops management into three separate sections: managing teams, managing clients, and managing events, while providing tools and interactive practice for each area.

Who should attend:
The target audience for this talk is primarily managers (product, project, and people), or people looking to move into management. However, individual contributors are an excellent secondary audience for this talk because it provides real-­life tools they can bring back to their team, and guidance on being a leader even if you aren't the manager.

Take back to work:
Attendees should bring back to work the following practical techniques for people management:

  • How to interview for the skills you want while avoiding bias.
  • How to coach underperformers, even when it's uncomfortable.
  • How to encourage growth.
  • How to distribute work equitably and manage time.
  • Techniques for avoiding burnout (for the manager and the ICs).
  • Three different techniques for collaboration (Fist to Five, Collaboration Contracts, and Parallel Thinking).
  • How to set expectations and evaluate resources when taking on new projects for your team.
  • How to prepare for and anticipate crisis, and keep a team functional during that time.

Topics include:
Topics covered in this mini­-tutorial include:

  • Hiring
  • Performance management
  • Product management
  • Tools for collaboration
  • Time management
  • On­Call Rotations
  • Incident Analysis

Connie-Lynne Villani, Grilled Cheese Invitational

With degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Theater Management, Connie-Lynne brings 20 years of System Engineering experience to the table, as well as a keen understanding of how to handle drama in the workplace. In addition to founding and managing Groupon's first SRE team, Connie-Lynne has worked at Linden Lab,, and Caltech, but admits that her most fun position is serving as a board member for the Grilled Cheese Invitational, an annual food festival celebrating all things cheesy.

@conference {208458,
author = {Connie-Lynne Villani},
title = {Interfacing with Humans: How to Manage in Prod Ops},
year = {2016},
address = {Boston, MA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = dec