Birthday Talks – November Wrap

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.

McKinsey 2015

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

  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. Practice. At least 2-8 times, with and without slide.
  1. Bonus tip – watch stand-up: watch and learn how comics keep their audience engaged. 

Thank you

It’s been such a busy year, with so many people to thank, starting with our speakers, Marc Vandamme, Fernando Parra, Aseel Hamarneh, Erica Wass and Pratishtha Nahata, and everybody else who has shared with us this year.

Our generous host, A Cloud Guru, who have hosted so many of our events this year – they’re on a mission to teach the world to cloud.

Our volunteers, Gwen D’souzaNosh Darbari, Steve Bauer and the rest of the crew, who help behind the scenes, and ensure our events run smoothly.

And last but not least, our trusty organiser, Jen Leibhart and Liz Blink, who bring our whole community together. Have a safe festive season, and see you in the new year.

LIVE: Tonight! Salted Caramel Crack

OK… it’s not live. but it was tonight.

In COVID times, we’ve been having monthly social events. We start by eating Which often turn into cooking events. Tonight we’re making Salted Caramel Crack by Annabel Crabb

100 g butter

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 a packet of crackers (Salada or whatever). It seems it’s more important for them to be rectangles than anything else

1/2 t vanilla essence

pinch of salt

100 grams dark chocolate – chopped – use cheap stuff, not fancy.

handful of pistachio or walnut or something. Jane recommends pistachio because it looks pretty

Take a flat baking tray, cover it in foil. then lay a piece of baking paper on top. Lay the crackers next to each other

On low heat, cook the butter & sugar. Constantly stir! or it will burn!

add the salt & vanilla right before you remove from the heat.

THEN FAST…

pour the caramel onto the crackers and smooth it across the crackers. Don’t worry if the caramel has split. It goes in the oven and the crackers absorb and it tastes great.

Put this in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Lick the spatula

Hey (Google/Alexa), set a timer for 15 minutes

Have the chopped nuts & chopped chocolate ready to put onto the top AFTER you remove from the oven.

Add the chocolate, then the salt, then the nuts.

Don’t be lazy! Put the choc bits all the way to the end. Get the sides. Or you will be sad.

– Jane

Put the finished product in the fridge to harden. You can eat it now but Jane says it’s better after it’s chilled.

When it’s not shiny anymore or wet when you press it with your finger, then it’s time to EAT!

Jane’s
Steve’s
Nosh’s (sponsored by Savers and Aldi)

End of the Year – Short Talks

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).

For this session, you’ll hear from:

Marc Vandamme on encouraging your entire team to wireframe

Fernando Parra about his love affair with Amplitude

Erica Wass on thanking those who help make your product a success

Elizabeth Griffiths will tell us about her 5 week journey from idea to MVP

Pari Nahata with how to make your slides more impactful

more to be announced soon

RSVP to our November session. BTW, it’s also the ProdAnon bday so we’ll definitely have some social breakout room time.

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Our sponsor: A big thanks to A Cloud Guru for sponsoring! Our mission is to teach the world to cloud. Find your place at ACG.

Dumplings

This month we’ll have online dumplings on Tuesday November 10th. RSVP

What’s next?

We’ll possibly have another dumplings session in December. We’re even wondering if it could be a picnic.

Product Anonymous takes a break over the festive season and will be back in February 2021.

Creating Buy-In with Simon Dowling – October Wrap

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGf9sdMnVwT/

Willing and Enthusiastic

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;
  • Ownership;

In short, magic happens!

"The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of his r her organisation is going to blow the competition away." Walter Wriston - CEO Citigroup 1967-1984

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.

Tram full of disposable coffee cups - War on Waste.

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.

Take Action

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? 

Resources and Further Reading

You can find Simon on LinkedIn, or information and resources from Simon’s website.

Some books mentioned were:

Thank you

Thank you so much to Simon for sharing, our great volunteers Gwen and Nosh, and to our generous host, A Cloud Guru. They’re on a mission to teach the world to cloud.

Prioritisation: The Ultimate Hamster Wheel – September Wrap

Prioritisation. The Product Managers’ pain. 

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.

Thanks

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!

Slides & Video

October event – Creating Buy-In

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.

Our speaker:


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.

Simon is the author of Work with Me: How to get people to buy into your ideas

RSVP now!

Thanks to A Cloud Guru for being our online host. A Cloud Guru’s mission is to teach the world to cloud, and they’re hiring!

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Marketing does USPs and Product does not – August Wrap

Are Product people all that different from their Marketing colleagues? Other than Sales, Advertising, and Brand Messaging, what do Marketers actually do? For August, we delved into the world of marketing with Ellias Appel and Carleen Harawira.

What is Marketing?

Elias started with a quote:

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, that the product or service fits them, and sells itself – Peter Drucker

In other words, Marketing is the art and science of understanding customers, and then trying to get them to buy your stuff.

Carleen agreed — Marketing is the art and science of getting and keeping customers. Make sure you leave some room for magic (or the art).

What is the Marketing approach?

Both Elias and Carleen started with marketing first principles — the Marketing Mix, or the 4 Ps of Marketing (Place, Price, Product and Promotion).

By interrogating the 4Ps, Marketers try to understand their customers, so that they can create a Unique Sales Proposition (USP) as the answer to their problems — getting your product in front of the right customers at the right price.

Carleen took us through a methodical Marketing process.

Market orientation:

Ultimately, as soon as you become an employee, you lose some customer perspective. That price is justified, right? That ad is cool. Biases have already started to creep in. Marketing orientation is about getting the customer perspective back. 

Segmentation:

Get to down specific segments. Who are your perfect customers? Who are your bad customers? You want to avoid averages.

The “Average” Australian has one testicle and one breast!

Targeting:

How do you want to approach your targeting? Micro targeting, such as Facebook or other social platforms, or mass marketing, such as television. There’s no right or wrong, but you need to work out what is best for you.

Positioning:

How should we position our products? There are a couple of trains of thought here, from Purpose, or what we stand for (the Simon Sinek school of thought) to Distinction, or when you think about us (from How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp).

(Brand) Codes:

The more you repeat elements of your branding, the more memory structures are built, which lead to associations, and then eventually will lead to sales and growth (eg, McDonalds).

Touch Points:

Where do you want to interact with your potential customers, and how? Through Third Parties? Social only? eCommerce via a website? A more traditional retail model?

Communications:

The actual execution of messages through your chosen mediums.

That’s the process… and then there’s a bit of luck.

How can Product and Marketing work together better?

Marketing and product should be tied at the hip. Create a common goal. Share your research, results and insights with each other. Create an infinity loop, and feed each other to become stronger and more effective.

Build cross-functional micro teams. Include an analyst in the mix.

Marketing is more than just Sales. Sales is like a toddler, and is immediate. Sales cannot do the slow burn or long term vision. But together, Product and Marketing can!

Thank you

Thanks again to Ellias and Carleen 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!

Slides

ProdAnon birthday talks!

Yes! November is our birthday!

Over the years, we’ve mixed it up with purely social birthday drinks to give you more time to get to know each other (& Liz and I are not adverse to a lovely cocktail or wine) or the usual speaker topic session – this year we have a new plan.

One of the big reasons Product Anonymous exists is to share knowledge. Another reason we exist is to grow the local talent which includes giving people the opportunity to gain experience in front of a crowd & crafting a talk. We’re super proud that several ProdAnon speakers have gone on talk at large conferences.

So for November.. it’s time to dip your toe in the water. Yes, you!

We want you to present – for 5 minutes. It’s not a long talk, you won’t have to answer 15 questions after, nor do you need to create earth-shattering beautiful slides.

What you need to do is know what you want to express, to teach, to explain, to get ProdAnon folks excited about.

You need to be able to communicate that in FIVE minutes (warning: Liz will have her whistle). And you need to be available to do this on Thursday evening November 26th.

This is not a ‘lightning talk’. You do not have to change slides every 15 seconds and have only 20 slides. It’s your 5 minutes. It can be fun. It can be serious. It could be an insight you want to share.

What to do next?

  1. Mull over your idea and submit it by EOD Saturday, October 24th
  2. Those chosen will be contacted on Friday, October 30th (yes, this is encouraging you to spend Melbourne Cup wknd working on your preso!)

Submit your talk idea!

How will talks be selected?

  1. Appeal of the topic to ProdAnon people
  2. Your sworn ability to be able to use google slides and deliver the slides the week before the event

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Our sponsor: A big thanks to A Cloud Guru for sponsoring! Our mission is to teach the world to cloud. Find your place at ACG.

September event – Prioritisation: The ultimate hamster wheel

Have you ever felt like your life has become all about juggling the priorities? And you’re just on this hamster wheel…

Phoebe Peck has been on that wheel – and knows you need to stop. From juggling near term to long term priorities, Phoebe will be share tried and tested strategies for running in a straighter-ish direction while recognising detours, temptations and pitfalls along the way.

She will share her experiences on prioritisation including from a lighter perspective because let’s face it if we don’t laugh we will cry! (or go insane…)

Conversation & sharing of your tips will be encouraged!

See you on Thursday, September 24th RSVP

About Phoebe:
Phoebe Peck is passionate about hospitality, technology, people and leaving positive imprints on the world through the decisions we make and the actions we take.

Phoebe is Head of Product for the industry-leading hospitality SaaS Company, Redcat. Her talents in product and technology have greatly benefited from a strong operational and managerial background in best of breed quick-service restaurants, and fast-casual hospitality business.

Phoebe values teamwork, perseverance, work ethic and honesty. Phoebe attributes her professional success to her internal drive, continuous learning and working with amazing people.

Phoebe lives in the heart of Tigerland, is a mother of 2, is very competitive, always up for a challenge and has ambitions to one day present at TED.

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Our sponsor: A big thanks to A Cloud Guru for sponsoring! Our mission is to teach the world to cloud. Find your place at ACG.

Product Anon Dumplings

Our next dumpling session is Tuesday September 8th. RSVP here.

What is this dumpling thing?

Back in the day when we could squeeze 10 people onto a small table, occasionally we’d gather to eat dumplings and talk.

Since March 2020, we’ve been running monthly dumpling sessions online. Bring your dinner, hang out, meet some folks and chat.

Warning: sometimes these turn into weird cooking shows. It started with the frothy Dalgona coffee thing then mug cake and there’s rumours of sticky date pudding one day.

Photo by Abhishek Sanwa Limbu on Unsplash