Leading the Product Pitchfest – July wrap-up

We hope you’ve heard about Leading the Product – the fantastic product management conference Down Under.

We teamed up with the LTP folks to hold a pitchfest for lightning talk spots and we’re thrilled to announce Daniel Kinal & Shiyu Zhu will take the stage in October!!

Thanks to everyone for supporting the folks who pitched their talks, to Seek for hosting, for Leading the Product for the great idea and to our judging panel – Adrienne Tan of Brainmates/Leading the Product, Mark O’Shea of Seek and Dan Johnston of CultureAmp.

Before kicking off the pitches, we had a few of last year’s lightning talk folks – Liz Blink, Katherine Barrett & Zac Andrew – to tell us what it was like and give us a few tips!

  • Know your beginning and end! Give yourself some time to ad-lib in the middle
  • Good memes at the beginning & end help
  • Practice, practice, practice, practice!
  • Know how fast or slow you speak when you’re in front of people.
  • Focus on the content of the talk first and the slides second.
  • Props are your friend
  • Bring a story to life
  • Have 3 things the audience can walk away with
  • That sick feeling you have before getting up on stage is a good thing – it’s excitement!

We had 10 pitches on the evening – including a last minute submission! They were all fantastic!! Leading the Product only had 2 spots available so we hope to hear these other talks at Product Camp Melbourne in August!

Get your tickets to Leading the Product before they sell out (which they do every year!)!

Thank you Seek for hosting!

Our next event is Product Camp – register now and submit a pitch!

Announcement: Product Camp Melbourne 2018!!!!

This year Product Camp Melbourne will be on Saturday August 25th! RSVP now!

MYOB will be our host. They first hosted Product Camp in 2016 and since then we’ve both grown – they have an expanded office that will fit our expanded group!

We’ve locked in 1 keynote who we will announce soon and there’s lots of fun we’re planning for this year!

Keep up to date with the Product Camp website. We’ve already added a new video!

So reserve your spot now!!! RSVP

Every Product is a Service – June wrap-up

We gathered a couple people who work in product and a couple people who work in design to discuss if every product is a service and how we can work together well.

This would not have been possible without Service Design Melbourne & NEXT, a division of the Reece Group, who kindly sponsored the evening.

To introduce our panel, we quizzed them on their qualifications…
Dave Calleja – Associate Design Director at Isobar. Has a degree in design.
Kate Edwards-Davis – Product Manager at Karista. Studied classical music performance & philosophy.
Dr Stefanie Di Russo – Principal Designer at NAB. Holds design degrees including a PhD in design thinking.
Daniel Kinal – Product Manager at MYOB. His degrees go across economics, accounting, marketing and a some information systems stuff.

And our moderator – Liz Blink – Digital Customer Experience Manager at Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning VIC Government. Holds a PhD in immunology.

Which goes to show we work with people from very diverse backgrounds & there’s different avenues to getting into the work we do.

First we surveyed the audience to see which camp they belonged to… service design, product, something else or multiple areas. 57% of our audience said they were something else! From the shouts from the audience, it seemed a lot of folks identified with ‘UX’.

kicking off our session with service design melbourne #prodanon

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Dave raised the definition of ‘product’ and how you can’t really divide up things like Netflix into those definitions of ‘product’ or ‘service’. Do you think Netflix is a product or a service? He feels to discuss the two, there needs to be some semantic mud hurdling.

Steph pointed out that service design has a time element with artifacts and actors while product is the artifact itself at a certain point of time.

While Daniel thinks it’s all ‘product’ going across goods & services lines. If we are talking about eating a mandarin for breakfast or getting a scalp massage there’s a clear ‘product’ or ‘service’ in those definitions but we probably all work on complex products which have both tangible & intangible elements. There is a basket of benefits you’re offering the end customer.

Kate asked ‘who cares?’. The outcome is the important thing! We’re trying to package something together to help meet a customer’s need. ‘Products’ co-exist with ‘services’ and we even buy some ‘products’ despite the ‘service’ we receive with them.

Kate brought a prop along to prove the point that a ‘product’ or good can always be improved when you think about the ‘service’! Who Gives a Crap is toilet paper that’s been wrapped in a ‘service’. They offer a subscription service so you never run out and they are focused on social good by being environmentally sound and donating profits. They are disrupting with their ‘service’.

There was lots of talk of physical products – mandarins, toilet paper and then coke! Steph discussed the difference between a ‘service’ and an ‘experience’. The taste of the coke is part of the ‘experience’ while there’s actors & elements that enable the ‘service’ to exist.

But Dave brought it back into the realm of the digital (which most folks in the room work in…). When you are using a digital ‘service’ like Netflix, there’s definitely a physical attribute which might be sitting on the couch, having a tablet or remote in your hand. It’s how the end user experiences this, how the end user views that as the product. What words we in the industry use to discuss it isn’t as important as the outcome.

Service design is a design methodology & an approach to tackle problems. There are lots of frameworks & ways to understand problems and each discipline (product, design, marketing, etc) will have preferred ways. You can have customer experience people who do not use design methodologies and may rely more on marketing.

Daniel sees the rise of design thinking as a level of maturity in seeing the value of not going right to a solution and looking for ways to truly articulate the problem.

There was some discussion on how good ‘service’ can recover people when they have a bad ‘product’ experience. The ‘service’ element is what helps to get the good online reviews.

Steph asked Daniel if a good product person should have a design background which lead to a discussion about working together.

Everyone agreed a team needs to exist which brings different perspectives and skill sets. Kate brought up the skill set of being able to deliver a product at a price point that will sell & the act of using the organisation’s capabilities. Daniel discussed one of the responsibilities for a product manager is to be the advocate for the stakeholder who is not in the room (including the customer). Dave said if the team isn’t considering viability, feasibility & desirablity together, you’re unbalanced. Steph focuses more on the desirability while working with product people but is also thinking about the other two.

Healthy debates where you’re not so dogmatic about your position are best said Steph. Daniel wants designers to have a different perspective and be even more customer driven than he is so they can have creative (good) conflict about the different ways to reach a specific goal. He’s found that the more experience a person has, typically they have a level of maturity that allows them to leave their ego at the door about whose idea it was but at the end of the meeting, you are all focused in 1 direction.

Kate recommends spending time together to understand the customer & strategy. What a person’s title is doesn’t matter as long as you are there to learn & understand from each other. Dave also mentioned psychological safety of having those conversations & suggested leaving the drama to Love Island, not the office.

Thank you to NEXT, a division of the Reece Group and Service Design Melbourne for a wonderful evening!

 

Cognitive Bias – Check your bias at the door – May 24th

A cognitive bias is a ‘mistake’ that’s a result of holding onto your own preferences or beliefs no matter what evidence is presented. It can impact our decision making, our memory, the way we interpret research, etc.

RSVP for our Thursday May 24th session

As a product person, every day heaps of information comes our way – a sales manager telling us about a client conversation, Google Analytics, the latest customer research, queries from support, and on it goes.

With every bit of information, we’re trying to figure out what it means, if it’s important enough to do something about, how & when we should do something, and on it goes.

Our brain relies on cognitive biases which help us quickly sort everything out and that can get us in trouble!

We will walk through 6 of the most common cognitive biases that often come up in product development – including conducing & understanding our research plus decision making.

We’ll discuss how to watch out for those sneaky biases & walk through a checklist to help our teams in future.

Our speaker: David Di Sipio
Technology is all about people. I create great experiences by focusing on what makes people tick. I’m a registered Psychologist currently working at Squiz as a UX Consultant. My approach is grounded in academic research, big-data and best-practice. The work I do leads to measurable improvements in two main areas – product and productivity.

Doors 6pm
Talk kicks off 6:30pm
RSVP now!

Thank you to our sponsor, Origin Energy!

Does data or design win with product folks? March wrap-up

Does data or design rule supreme for us product folk? When we’re deciding what to work on or how to create whatever we’re creating… which do we lean towards?

To debate data vs design, we gathered a fabulous panel: 

Firmly on the data side was Marty Kemka from Northraine. Marty is a data scientist and entrepreneur. He’s worked on projects where something needed to shift and he says as long as you know the metric & design the experiment properly, the data should be able to show you the way.

On the design side, from Cogent, Amelia Crook is very interested in what human need is being solved and thinks people leave a trail of data but that data can’t give you the insight as to why the person has done something. The why is what gets you to the need.

Also, Steve Bauer was sitting on the design side. Steve also wants to understand the human element, is appreciative of qualitative research & yet knows his way around the numbers.

And finally Jane Register who has a design background and said she was also representing design. She’s previously worked with qualitative research but currently works on a product with lots of data. She has more data available now than ever before and finds that exciting.

FYI Jane & Steve work together at Aconex and prior to the event, Steve thought Jane would absolutely be on the data side. Jane later talked about how as a UX designer, she can’t have data without design nor design without data. For her you need to data to tell you some things but you also need the ‘why’.

We also had a great facilitator for the evening, Jane Scowcroft from Data61.

#prodanon

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Everyone had a card to vote if they were ‘data’ or ‘design’ and the initial check suggested most were leaning towards the data side. Our unscientific count was data in the lead at maybe 60% of the audience. The subsequent discussion may have gotten us to a different outcome!?!

Delving into the data isn’t easy according to our design folks. You need to know the context of the questions asked, if the data is spread across different tables or db & there will be back & forth between you & the data analyst in order to even craft the right questions. You can get lost down data rabbit holes. Marty agreed that it needs to be a collaboration with the data analyst because you need to realise there will be database changes to work with, you need to know the context of when an event happened, you have to really understand what you’re measuring and what confidence level you have in all this.

We also touched on using the data to tell the right story of your product. How are you measuring success, what are you optimising for and is that in the context of your product, your department or the entire (especially when large) organisation?

About half way thru the evening, another audience check had us about 50/50 split across data v design.

We see the value of bringing data scientists & analysts into the design fold to help them do their jobs better. Marty recounted a project he worked on where he went out to the field to see how things where done which then greatly helped when he was back at his computer. Over the years it’s been about getting developers to understand the customers more… now we need to bring along the data folks.

Amelia mentioned that looking at an excel sheet doesn’t help you connect with your users. You don’t gain a lot of empathy amongst the cells and rows! Taking folks out in the field so they can meet users is great motivation for wanting to solve that problem for the user.

At the end, the panel couldn’t help itself and admitted needing both data and design to get a great outcome in your product world. I think maybe even Marty started coming around 🙂 And our audience was pretty even 50/50.

Thank you to Jane! Thank you Amelia, Jane, Marty & Steve! Thank you Data61 and Intrepid Group for sponsoring the evening!!

Who has the upper hand? UX or Product?

As we all strive to make a successful product, tension between team mates is inevitable and can help get to a better solution. Or not.

Inspiration for this panel discussion comes from conversations where 1 role thinks the other has more control so we’re teaming up with Ladies that UX Melbourne to bring both sides together & discuss. How can we work together better? Have the roles & responsibilities become blurred causing confusion? What’s happening? How can we improve?

Help direct the panel conversation by submitting your thoughts & questions now.

Our facilitator:
Kirsten Mann

Our panel:
On the UX side, we have Homaxi Irani & Louise Long. On the Product side, Nicole Brolan & Jen Leibhart .

Find out more about our awesome partner for this event – Ladies that UX Melbourne

Thank you to Seek for hosting!

seek

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.

Facilitator:
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. And for those who couldn’t be there in person check out the full recording of the session.

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

Zendeskmironov.com

Building & Scaling Product Teams – Feb Event

We’re thrilled to have the wonderful Rich Mironov able to join us for the 1st Product Anon of 2018!

Rich spoke at one of our sessions back in 2014 and it’s awesome to have him back in town.

If you haven’t RSVP’d yet, you’re going direct to the waitlist. This is a very popular session so pop yourself on the list.

If you’ve RSVP’d and can’t attend, PLEASE update your attendance to a ‘no’ so someone on the waitlist (which is about 60 people ATM) can attend. We’ll have a packed house so this is much appreciated!!

In our annual survey, we asked what topics you are interested in & ‘building/scaling product teams’ was #1 so we’ll kick off the year with… How do you arrange the puzzle pieces of roles, responsibilities and people when building or scaling a product team?

Rich’s talk will help us explore:

– Division of labor: how do we grow from one to three to many product folks?
– End-to-end management of product elements/features, or product owner and business owner roles?
– What does a Head of Product do?
– When do startups need to hire a product person?

This will be interactive, there will be some book giveaways and Rich invites us to ‘call BS’ on anything. Hope to see you there!

Our Host:
Big thanks to Zendesk for hosting the evening!

Zendesk

Our Speaker:
Rich Mironov is a 30-year veteran of Silicon Valley tech companies. Rich coaches product executives, product management teams and agile/lean development organizations. He also parachutes into software companies as interim VP Products/CPO to address company-level product/market/leadership issues. Rich has been the “product guy” at six Silicon Valley start-ups including as CEO and VP Product Management. Since 2002, his long-running blog has covered software, start-ups, product strategies, and the inner life of product managers. Rich is the author of “The Art of Product Management” (2008), and founded the first Product Camp. He has a BS Physics from Yale and an MBA from Stanford.

November Summary: Product Manager v Product Owner!

How many times can the product community talk about the differences between product managers & product owners? Apparently we’re not at max conversation yet!

This was one of the topics suggested during Product Camp and while it didn’t have enough votes on the day, we had several people ask us to run it as a session.

Steve Bauer, a product manager at Telstra Wholesale assembled 3 folks with different backgrounds who have been across the 2 roles to hash out the differences & how they can work together.

Our panelists included Michael Sloan who has recently changed roles from product manager to product owner at NAB. Nadia Gishen who’s currently a product owner at Aconex but has been a product manager before. Manoel Pimentel is an agile coach at elabor8.

One man who feels strongly about this debate is Nick Coster from Brainmates. Unfortunately Nick couldn’t attend as he was overseas but he made a guest appearance. 😉 You can read his thoughts about the Dynamic Duo on the Brainmates blog or watch the talk he gave at the 2015 Product Camp Melbourne

@nick.coster makes a guest appearance #prodanon

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Before kicking off the discussion, we wanted to know what roles the audience had – were they more owner or manager? Much to our surprise, they were neither! In the audience, 40% were not product owners OR managers (!!!!), 25% were product managers, 20% were doing both roles, 15% were product owners.

If you work in product, you already know companies define the role in a variety of ways. If you are a product manager and work with a product owner (or vice versa), how do both of you set yourself up for success? Our panel agreed that talking with each other to clearly understand what you feel responsible for and what the company thinks you’re responsible for is required. This should be a conversation you have – not a job description.

Some other random tidbits from the evening…

The business analyst (BA) role typically sits between product & development to write very detailed requirements but with the rise of the product owner role, BA roles are disappearing.

A danger of being a product owner is being an order taker in terms of what is built, how & when. Product owners need to think & talk about how they can support both the product manager and the team. They can add value in many ways so determine what works best for your current situation.

No matter which role it is, our panel recommends looking for a few things when hiring someone – problem solving ability, communication, resiliance and someone who doesn’t tire easily 🙂

#prodanon

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There was some conversation regarding ‘product manager’ being a cooler title than ‘product owner’ – until Manoel suggested the future title will be ‘problem owner’.

The slides for those who want the references and the jokes 🙂

Thank you to inspire9 for hosting!!!

inspire9 logo

This was our last event for 2017. Product Anonymous will kick off in February 2018 so sign up to our newsletter, add yourself to meetup, follow us on twitter, join the slack group, follow in instagram… all that good stuff! See all the links.