After a long challenging year, it was great to get back together for our first face to face meetup for 2021. After multiple delays, we finally were able to be joined by Katherine Weaver and Caylie Panuccio from Impro Melbourne for a fun and interactive session and it certainly did not disappoint.
During the session, we learnt a little about improv, and were guided through a series of activities, where we learnt about:
Supporting each other and helping your partner (colleague) look good;
Collaborating with others and building on ideas;
Empathy for our stakeholders, who will have a lot of other things on their plate at times; and
Our own self-consciousness, and the artificial rules we create for ourselves.
Not only was the session extremely fun, we also saw how the exercises could be applied in work settings, to make us better product people.
About Impro Melbourne
Impro Melbourne is Victoria’s premier improvisation company and the home of spontaneous theatre since 1996, and celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
Between performing shows and running a full schedule of workshops at their training facilities, they also take workshops and shows to schools and community venues, and lead corporate training sessions at home and overseas.
If you’re interested in learning more or developing soft skills, beginner workshops are available:
Thank you again to our fantastic facilitators: Katherine Weaver, improviser, actor, teacher and Artistic Director of Impro Melbourne and Caylie Panuccio, Senior UX Researcher at SEEK, who has been practicing improvised theatre with Impro Melbourne on and off for the past couple of years and has found it a huge help as a designer / researcher / product person working in corporate environments
There is a general consensus that one should use user data to validate thinking and steer products in the right direction. But as you probably know all too well, the inputs that go into product roadmap decisions aren’t so neat and tidy.
There’s an endless onslaught of competing ideas and requests from executives, team leads, customers, and often a lot of personal investment in the ideas being suggested. With all this influence, how do you make sure the right signals are heard through the noise?
Our speakers have a slightly different angle on this problem because they work at an agency! Since they have the advantages inherent in being an agency and paid outsider, they’ll share how they set up an engagement from the get-go to promote better decision-making and ultimate project success – and how all this could be applied by internal client teams.
They will take us through a technique called the Diagnostic, which will help you get the buy-in from sponsors/stakeholders, alignment on the objectives & ways of working plus increase the likelihood of avoiding Hippos. This way you can focus on building a great and sustainable product.
This is an in-person event!
There will be a check-in for contract tracing purposes
Yes, there will be pizza and beverages
Kick off: 6:30pm
If there’s interest, a post session beverage somewhere nearby often happens!
Jim has over 15 years of experience designing and leading the development of innovative products and customer experiences across digital channels. He has worked across multiple industries for start-ups and global brands, including Travel & Leisure, Pharmaceuticals, Health, Superannuation and Automotive.
Su is an Associate Design Director in Isobar’s Products & Services team which exists to create and innovate new products and services that generate value and drive revenue.
Day to day, she collaborates with cross-functional teams to uncover opportunities then rapidly prototype, validate and deliver new digital experiences for a range of organisations, from start-ups to enterprises.
As a designer with 15 years in the industry, she is passionate about solving problems collaboratively, and strives to design experiences that are simple, effective and beautifully crafted.
We are a global digital agency transforming businesses and brands through a creative use of digital. Our mission is delivering experience-led transformation, powered by creativity through our end-to-end service offering.
The team delivering the content for this Product Anonymous edition are the Products & Services team. A highly autonomous and cross functional arm of Isobar, offering deep expertise in innovating new products and services that quickly create impactful customer experiences and build valuable businesses.
The team works across the entire product lifecycle and provides innovation services for early stage idea direction, validation, and product and service development; with access to complementary services and partners; and an inherent bias towards action
One of the famous 7 Ps of product marketing is Price. As product professionals, we’re caught in the middle of a battle between trying to maximise price for our bottom line, while offering appealing value to the customer who wants to minimise their costs. Jon Manning showed that there are many myths in pricing, while giving great tips on options available when we are trying to price our products.
What does that big word even mean?
floccinaucinihilipilification /ˌflɒksɪˌnɔːsɪˌnɪhɪlɪˌpɪlɪfɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/ noun the action or habit of estimating something as worthless.
Top 10 Pricing Myths
The myth of the perfect price
There is no such thing as a perfect price. Everyone has a different understanding of what they are willing to pay and how that payment should be structured. So pricing depends on each individual, and there will not be a single price or model that suits everyone.
The myth of full price
In certain hotels, they are obliged to outline their ‘rack rates’ – what the company specifies as the default rate for the room. You could often find it behind the door. However, nobody pays rack rates in hotels any more. Instead, we use discount sites as we want to get a great price – to get the “The thrill of the kill”. As a result discounting has to be a strategic part of pricing.
The myth of stealth price increases
Stealth price increases just don’t happen as much as we think. Thanks to social media, when people discover them they give immediate feedback to the vendor. One example is the drug Daraprim that went from US$13.50 to US$750 per tablet overnight and was immediately picked up by the media.
The myth of a world first pricing model
Some people believe that they have just invented a brand new pricing model and that nobody else has done it before. The reality is that all have been done in some way in the past. For example, Uber surge pricing model was just what the airlines did in the 1970s. During the great fire of London, the boatmen evacuating people across the Thames actually tripled their fares.
The myth of ‘markets’, and ‘the invisible hand’
Prices are not set by some sort of invisible hand – they’re set by real people.
Prof. Mark Ritson of London Business School said: “Pricing is the worst managed of all marketing areas. How prices are decided is often a mixture of voodoo and bingo.”
The myth of traditional economic theory
Traditional economic theory talks about price elasticity as when prices go down, the quantity of demand goes up. However, we never see this perfect price elasticity.
The myth that pricing models are for life
Our pricing models need to evolve. For example, many of our purchasing these days is by subscription model. Or how engines on planes are no longer charged by unit but are charged for power provided.
(Though with 90% of the world’s fleet on the ground this model is probably making it a bit tough for the engine manufacturers).
The myth of the spreadsheet
Every pricing model is in a spreadsheet without fail. However, this is just a simulation and not what happens in the real world.
The myth of procurement
Working with a Procurement team is like a frenemy; both friend and enemy to agreeing on a deal. You need to understand how they work – for example spend time with Procurement to learn how they beat up vendors on price. Then build this approach into your pricing model
The myth of cost-plus pricing
Customers don’t care about how much it costs you to produce – they just care about the value for them.
Why is pricing so important?
Pricing has a huge impact on operating profit. A 1% improvement in price can lead to an 11.1% increase in operating profit – a much better ratio than improving fixed costs, volume or variable costs.
Apple has many fans despite their price. Their strategy has sensitized their customers to the value they bring, over the price they charge. Which means they can take the discussion away from price
However, not everyone is really thinking through their pricing. Startups are filling in their business model canvas, and thinking about migrating their users from eyeballs to customers, but they are not thinking through their actual revenue.
The Value-Based Pricing Canvas
This canvas gives you 15 pricing questions designed to get you thinking about the value your provide. For example is it better to have no-hidden-surprises pricing, or dynamic pay-as-you-go pricing? Organisation and customer behaviors are driven by pricing so it is best to have this clear.
This is a Value-based approach because you have to talk to customer, rather than an ivory tower exercise. You ask customers four questions in surveys:
At what price does the product look cheap
At what price does the product look expensive
At what price does the product look too expensive
At what price does the product look too cheap
You can then plot these on chart and a box forms that helps determine an optimal price band.
Customer Value Analysis
This gets customers to value each attributes of your product, assign weights, and get an overall measure of customer value.
Identify value attributes from a customer perspective
Get customers to weight the product value attributes
Get customers to assess the product value attributes
Benchmark products against each other
Plot findings on a value map
This overall measure of value can also be used to generate a price
Software as a Service (SaaS) subscriptions
This is now the classic startup pricing approach.
Define the architecture of your products
Define the operational stuff the product actually does
Define the non-operative features, because it adds further differentiation
Consider the optional extras, for example things that are included in one product, but not in an another
Consider your segmentation, what each segment is willing to pay and whether it caters for all your customers and personas.
How do you choose your pricing model?
Choosing a pricing model is a combination of many factors; including analysis, experience, and sometimes you just know.
Many products are just naturally heading towards the SaaS model – it feels like a silver bullet for most online products.
However there are some increases in the number of companies using usage based pricing only; Snowflake, Stripe and Twilio. These companies are growing faster than other SaaS companies.
Jon Manning has vast experience in value-based pricing, gained in technology, and a range of other industries. He is a two-time past presenter at Product Camp.
His career has been a journey through three other pricing methodologies: the mysterious pricing of the oil industry, cost-plus pricing in the catering industry, and dynamic pricing in aviation and other services industries.
4 value-based pricing methodologies to ensure you get the price you deserve for your products & services
Jon Manning has vast experience in value-based pricing, gained in technology, and a range of other industries. He is a two-time past presenter at Product Camp.
He’s recently released a book of the same name – available on Amazon.
Jon’s career has been a journey through three other pricing methodologies: the mysterious pricing of the oil industry, cost-plus pricing in the catering industry, and dynamic pricing in aviation and other services industries.
For our last event for 2020, Product Anonymous celebrated our 9th birthday. Again. We’ve actually lost track of how old we are. And this may or may not be the third time that we’ve celebrated our 9th birthday. But I digress.
We’ve had another action packed year, with so many great talks from sharing insights and becoming a super-team with marketing, to leading through influence and creating buy-in to help prioritisation with an ethical lens, getting out of product hell and transitioning to a product-led company, which can have different nuances in big corps and startups.
As well as organising all of these fantastic talks, Product Anonymous also helps nurture our own people to turn on their camera and microphones, and face the crowd. And for our final event, we had five of our community do just that, taking the virtual stage to give short 5mins talks.
Talk to the Pencil – Marc Vandamme
As a product manager, you will need to work with a range of people, and bring them all into alignment. But how do you do that? With a comprehensive and detailed requirements document? Marc Vandamme says no! Pick up your pencil, and sketch it out. Whether it’s the interface, wireframes or flow charts, drawings will help to align the thinking faster.
I <3 Amplitude – Fernando Parra
Much of product management involves product discovery: understanding our customers’ problems with qualitative research. However, on the other side of the equation is all the data, and the world of quantitative product intelligence.
Self-confessed data geek, Fernando Parra, gave us a crash course for one such product intelligence tool – Amplitude.
After registering, you can explore the different aspects of this analytics SaaS product, with full access to their sandbox, which comes pre-configured with two sample projects (an eCommerce and B2B examples). From there, you can build your own charts and experiment with different data visualisations from the sample data.
Diversity – Aseel Hamarneh
Why should you (or your company) take diversity seriously? To not discriminate, or for ethical reasons? Or to avoid penalties and lawsuits? Maybe the most compelling reason is that diversity actually makes good business sense too.
Companies with ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean.
The more diverse your team is, the more perspectives that are brought in when you are designing and building solutions. But where do you start?
Start with yourself: recognise your own biases, we all have them.
Then your team: focus on diversity in your hiring. From your job ads to selection, there are plenty of tools to use.
Then your product: Think about your end users. Accessible solutions usually work better for all users.
Thanksgiving – Erica Wass
So much of what a Product Manager does is around influencing without authority, and giving thanks is one of the many tools to utilise, whether that be for bringing the team together, motivating, celebrating or influencing the culture and driving behaviour changes.
Different people prefer to be recognised in different ways. So talk to your team members, and see what they prefer, and act accordingly.
Regardless if in big, public ways, or more subtle gestures, remember, it’s about the recipient, not about you.
5 Tips for More Impactful Presentations – Pratishtha Nahata
Minimise Decision Fatigue: Plan your talk. Give yourself the space to think, and focus on the content and structure. Once you know what you want to say, then you can start to colour in the details, and apply some design.
Plan how info will be distributed across slides: Order and sequence the info for your, because order matters:
For results, outcomes or recommendations, start with the ending.
For training, process or to build anticipation, start at the beginning.
If your audience is not familiar with the topic, you might want to start with an example before jumping into concepts.
Make it visual: Group or show the relationships between different information, to help reduce the cognitive load for your audience, so they’ll be more likely to understand and retain the information.
Only keep what’s absolutely necessary: Don’t overcrowd your slides. What does your audience already know, and is info being repeated? What can be verbal? Use visual cues, to help focus attention. Remember, you’re the star of the presentation, not your slides.
Practice. At least 2-8 times, with and without slide.
Bonus tip – watch stand-up: watch and learn how comics keep their audience engaged.
For our last session in 2020, we are throwing open the doors (virtually) and getting our community more involved in giving talks. We love giving people the opportunity to talk and Thursday, November 26th, you’ll get to hear short talks from 7 people.
This is a good time to remind everyone that we are always looking for speakers so if there’s someone you think we should approach or you are interested in giving a talk, reach out to Liz or me (or both).
Blending his experience as a corporate lawyer and a seasoned improv performer, Simon Dowling has become a leading collaboration trainer, helping teams to become inspired and highly-engaged. For our October session, Simon took us through an interactive discussion on creating buy-in.
Can you imagine getting the people in your organisation to align and commit to initiatives, not because they’re told to or have to. But because they choose to, and want to, with willing and enthusiastic energy. Moving from a place of authority to autonomy.
It’s no surprise what can happen in this type of environment:
People feel valued and happier;
Increased trust, creating buy-in and a willingness to be helpful and co-operate;
Collective positive energy leading to productivity and motivation;
Unlocked creativity, with better ideas and better solutions;
A team culture of “us” not “I”, so many hands make light work;
Momentum to move forward with passion;
In short, magic happens!
But so what?
In the world of corporate, we often find ourselves pushed towards finding the pragmatic solution. Where is the information and data driving us? We spend our time building a case. Looking through data. Preparing decks. While that is also important, there is a more crucial question we need to answer.
So what? Why should I even care?
Emotion and mood are generally under-indexed in the workplace. We need to be able to put down the spreadsheet, and articulate why we need to pursue an idea. Why does it matter to our organisation? Why should this be important to us on a personal level?
Whether we use a model, an analogy or a physical representation, painting a vivid picture to capture our hearts can be a powerful tool to rally support.
Bring on the No
Once our team understands why our idea is important, another thing to tackle is the WIIFM – What’s in it for me? There’s a trap in pitching too much of the upside, without addressing the underlying concerns.
We need to create space, let go and let others in.
Stop pitching, and start co-creating.
Nobody knows all the answers. Here is where we can really harness the power of the wider group.
The last key step is putting things into motion.
Make it easy to start: What is the one thing we need to do within the first 48 hrs.
Build a habit: Make it easy to remember. Add it to our diary. Do we need to create a warning system to make sure we are still on track? Get others to come up with them.
Sustain: How do we avoid shiny object syndrome? Perhaps it’s to reassess if we should continue every 90 days?
From RICE to MoScoW to WSJF, there are no shortages of methods. If you google prioritisation, you’ll probably find around 30 different frameworks. But how useful are they? Are they too theoretical? How readily can they be applied?
Sometimes, it can feel like we are on a hamster wheel, constantly running in circles.
According to Phoebe Peck (Redcat), prioritisation is like running or a sport – it takes constant practice. Phoebe shared some of her real world experiences, with a few useful tips thrown in to boot.
Preparation and Training
Why do we need to prioritise? No matter how large our teams, or how infinite our resources may be, we cannot work on everything all the time. Therefore prioritisation is a critical part of the job.
What do we need to make the best decisions? Facts and information. But no matter how much time we spend prioritising, as soon as we finish, it’s outdated. So it’s important we check our compass regularly. Keep in touch with our stakeholders, high and low. To continually collect information, to understand what is important.
Truly listen, and keep our ego in check. Somebody else might have new information, or a better context.
The Event – Putting It Into Action
With all the different information we’re taking in, how do we work out what is important? Or more important? And what about the inherent biases we all have? How do we remove subjectiveness or neutralise strong opinions?
One way that Phoebe shared, was the following matrix.
Whether we use this matrix, or another tool, it can be beneficial to have some structure around the process, to create a common set of rules. Something so people can understand the method. But keep it simple. Avoid making things too complicated. We want it easy enough for anybody to understand and do. The goal is transparency.
If things are equally important, then add some heart, and humanise the decision for sequencing. Understand the business well enough, so that we can justify the decision of why something should come first.
Post Event Review
There is no perfect model. No one size fits all method. We need to understand our environment, our company, our customers and users. What’s right for one company may not be for another.
A continual balancing act between short term tactics and long term strategy. Launching new features and addressing technical debt from the past. Between what customers want and business objectives.
The decisions are not binary. They are not one or the other. But a balance between all these different aspects.
Give yourself some slack – prioritisation is hard and can be relentless. It takes a lot of practice and discipline. Keep training, it does get easier.
Thank you to Phoebe for sharing, and to A Cloud Guru for hosting us online. A Cloud Guru’s mission is to teach the world to cloud, and they’re hiring!
Creating Buy-In: how to foster cooperation and shared commitment to ideas and initiatives.
So much of what we do requires the cooperation and commitment of others. Getting others onboard isn’t simply about getting projects across the line. It’s about harnessing the full creative potential of teams and fostering a culture of shared ownership and accountability. This requires a careful balance of positive influence, while at the same time allowing plenty of space co-creation.
In this practical session, Simon introduces his ‘3M’ framework for generating positive influence and explores the most common pitfalls of building buy-in and how to avoid them.
Simon Dowling – is a leading thinker on creating and leading collaborative teams and workplaces. As a speaker, facilitator and educator, he works closely with leaders and teams from some of Australia’s most interesting organisations, equipping them with the inspiration and know-how to build strong, highly engaged teams.
Simon possesses a unique blend of creativity and pragmatism – something reflected in his past experience. He began his career as a commercial lawyer, and is also an experienced improviser, regularly performing with leading improvisation company Impro Melbourne. He was a regular cast member on Working Dog’s hit TV show Thank God You’re Here. For the past 20 years, Simon has been working with leaders across a wide range of industries, helping them to tap the collective genius of their people.
His clients include AFL, Bega Foods, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, BUPA, Envato, Mercedes Benz, myob, SEEK, Telstra Health and University of Melbourne. He is also a member of the Australian faculty of DukeCE – the executive education arm of the internationally acclaimed business school at Duke University.