March 22nd: Data vs Design Debate

We will be debating data vs design in product management at our March event.
Join us Thursday March 22nd.

We will have pairs of peeps from both sides of the divide from a couple of different companies, sharing their opinions on why one vs. the other and how they get to agreement in their day to day work.

Our panelists:

Amelia Crook is a product leader who enjoys solving complex problems and delivering elegant solutions. She’s done this for marketplaces like SEEK and Redbubble, publishers including Lonely Planet and Martha Stewart and ecommerce sites from the startup dstore to the giant Amazon. Amelia is currently a Product Principal at Cogent where she’s applying her skills to help startups focus and deliver and help teams upgrade their skills. She is passionate about building high-performing, diverse teams to deliver on goals and have fun along the way.

Jane Register is a Senior User Experience Designer at Aconex, currently focussing on enterprise data and insights products and context-aware services for the construction industry. Jane loves to eat danishes and dark chocolate, so ensured she studied at both the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and Zurich University of the Arts. Jane uses her keen curiosity of human behaviour and a wonder of how things work to build meaningful experiences.

Marty Kemka – founder of northraine, WeTeachMe and on the hunt to help 10,000 people learn about machine learning.

As a data scientist & founder (aka THE product manager), Marty is in a unique postion. He has been building predictive models for longer than ten years at ANZ, credit bureaus like Equifax & international companies such as GE and The World Bank. He started northraine with the purpose to ‘ recondition the human condition’ and create the next version of consciousness. He’s looking to build innovative new models across any industry – if you have data, northraine can use it to help you make decisions.

Steve Bauer works for Aconex as a Senior Product Manager, where he is focused on finding Data Insights for the construction industry. He loves it when customers find new ways to use his products to solve new problems. He started his PM career in London while working with companies such as Samsung, Symbian and Nokia. After meeting the Queen he returned to the colonies to write about himself in the third person.

Jane Scowcroft, Head of Product, Data61

Thank you to our hosts Intrepid Group & Data61!

February Summary: Building & Scaling Product Teams with Rich Mironov

We kicked off the year with ‘Building & Scaling Product Management Teams’ because it was one of the most requested topics in our year end survey and it’s something Rich Mironov knows a bit about as he often comes into a company to help them sort out their team (and of course product).

After a quick review of what a product manager’s role is, Rich got right into the team aspect. Both problem finding AND problem solving are team sports, not only for you THE product manager. When there isn’t someone within the business who is knowledgeable about product management, you will find someone is ‘playing’ product manager.

At a startup, the founder who has the passion for the problem & users will often be working on the product. A startup founder has a lot of other responsibilities so need to think about hiring a PM when the sales pressure is increasing, they need someone to help them FOCUS & scalability is needed – often this is somewhere between hitting 12-25 employees. Rich STRONGLY believes you need to bring in someone who with experience at this point – not someone with deep domain knowledge, not someone at the company in another role, not someone with a ‘scrum’ or ‘project’ word in their title but someone who’s been here & done that & has the scars.

At any company, when it comes to building the product team. Rich believes it’s better to reduce the distance between the customer/user, the product person & the development team. His favourite structure for a team is a product person & the dev/ux/design/etc team to be close (physically & collaboratively) with the users via frequent learning conversations. He is not a fan of the customer feedback/problems/conversation filtered via sales or a single product person or marketing, etc.

Which is when we hit the controversial part of the evening – Rich believes the ‘product owner’ job is setup for failure for several reasons including they don’t have time with customers to understand the problems before writing stories & they’re not focused on the end value but productivity focused. Instead of having the owner & manager roles as separate people, it should be the same person doing both roles.

Multiple screens #prodanon

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Lastly, we talked a bit more about the different roles in a product team. The product manager should be shipping great individual products, thinking 2-4 quarters ahead & is a relentless communicator of truth. The Director of PM should be focusing on processes, resources & the team. Budget & Strategy, planning for the next 6 quarters & ‘keeping the trains running’ are the focus. A Head of Product/VP is part of the executive team, focusing on aligning strategy, products & the organisation.

Rich’s 4 takeaways for the evening were:

  1. The need for product management is not obvious to a lot of people including founders/CXOs
  2. Hire for product experience
  3. Product Managers own real market value and direct customer learning
  4. The head of product manages the PMs AND the executive team

Rich has posted the slides for your reference and perusal. We’re working on getting video posted but that will take longer.

A big thank you to Rich & Zendesk for a wonderful evening!!!