Product transformation is easy and everyone in our organisation is both excited and happy to be on the journey….
This sounds far fetched but is the reality of what’s happened at PageUp. Josh Centner, Head of Product will walk through the journey of PageUp – a successful Melbourne based software company and how they went from a custom software house to a fast paced, customer focused product company.
Josh will cover their approach to introducing organisational transformation and how the organisation has combined the best of Design Thinking and Lean Startup to revolutionise the structure, process and mindset that drives our strategy, operations and product development practices.
Structure, culture & process will be covered with a ‘what we did’ approach and how you can learn from their experience.
Our Speaker: Josh Centner, Head of Product at PageUp
Josh has spent the last 10 years knee-deep in the world of startups and innovation. Attempting his own startups and consulting to both small and large organisations intent on creating disruption for themselves and their industries. After working with over 20 different organisations, Josh has deep insight into what does and doesn’t work when it comes to organisational transformation and product management.
Our Host: UniSuper
At UniSuper, our mission is simple—helping our members enjoy exceptional retirement outcomes underpins everything we do.
The speaker of this talk was Ben Jackson who discovered his Autism Spectrum Disorder as an adult.
I found this to be a great talk. I was deeply inspired by Ben’s self-knowledge, his investment in self discovery, his courage in getting up on the big stage in the largest meeting room at Product Camp and his commitment to shining a light on the spectrum of his own humanity.
The focus of the talk was Ben’s own experience and his own neurodiversity. He was not seeking to convey the experiences of other neurodiverse people. Instead Ben wanted to give us an idea of what it is like to be neurodiverse
It is impossible for Ben to put words to the thousands of things he struggles against every day but he did share his self-stimulating (‘stimming’) behaviours that help him focus and are part of his self-management.
Two of the key terms Ben used were “neurodiverse” and “neurotypical”. Neurodiversity refers to variations regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood & other mental functions. Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are some of the variations. Neurotypical is used to describe individuals of typical developmental, intellectual & cognitive abilities.
Key take-aways from the talk
Neurodiversity is a spectrum, not where someone sits on a 1-10 scale
A neurotypical person can be represented on the colour wheel as an almost perfect circle whereas a neurodiverse person would be more like a 5 pointed star. The big thing to remember is each neurodiverse person is as unique in themselves as a neurotypical person is.
Triggers and reactions are not a choice
Neurodiversity can also mean diversity in triggers and reactions to specific stimuli.
For example, Ben can find unexpected social interaction a trigger that leads to stress. When stressed, he tends to bite nails, touch his face and repeatedly wring his hands. His stress reactions also include extreme perfectionism. He has a pathological need to complete a task and has no choice overdoing it. He has sensitivity to sudden loud noises and even colours can trigger discomfort or cause a panic attack.
Neurodiversity means strengths and challenges in a workplace
Like with all us humans, the challenge is to understand where our strengths lie and how to use it for good.
For Ben, it means he is excellent at pattern recognition. He is also completely honest yet won’t realise if he’s being offensive or hurtful even though he’s very afraid of causing emotional distress in others. He works ‘like a computer’ where if there’s any room for interpretation he freezes as directions. Questions should be very clear as he can anticipate thousands of variations you may need but won’t know which you need
How to work with an autistic person? Just like anyone else!
When you start working with a new person, it sometimes takes a little while & effort to understand how to work best with them. Same is true with someone who is neurodiverse. Sit down and work out a way you can work with them.
This is not hard, just slightly different. It is similar to how you travel to a new country and adapt to their culture.
Doing this is just a part of being a good leader and a good human being.
Can you believe that another year has flown by? With so much happening, it’s not surprising that it has gone by so quickly. Eight meet-ups, ranging from roadmaps to Wardley Maps, exploring continuous discovery and mental models, diving into OKRs and NPS, and putting ourselves in the shoes of some entrepreneurs. Amongst all this goodness, we also had another Leading the Product Conference and Product Camp!
For our final event of the year, Tafida Negm, an independent Human-Centred Researcher and Designer with a background in Marketing and Psychology, took us through the Mental Models framework by Indi Young.
With mental models, we try to move earlier in the cycle and focus on the person and what they are trying to achieve.
What are they thinking?
How are they reasoning their way towards their intent?
What are they feeling?
What are their beliefs that underpin their (in)decision or actions?
If we can understand this & develop true empathy, then we can have a better opportunity to design an aligned solution and have the customer think:
‘Wow, it’s like that product was made for me’
What are Mental Models?
This is a bit of a loaded question, as it is applied in so many different contexts, from psychology, to machine learning and behavioural perspectives, there are little different nuances.
Indi Young defines them as: “Mental models give you a deep understanding of people’s motivations and thought-processes, along with the emotional and philosophical landscape in which they operate.”
You may have seen them represented as a skyline, but we’ll delve into that a little more in a moment.
Listening Sessions, Cognitive Empathy and Patterns of Intent
Tafida led us through a few exercises because what better way to learn than to get hands-on? We started with listening sessions, where we used active listening to try to develop cognitive empathy.
The aim of cognitive empathy is to gain that deep understanding of people. You want to understand so well that you could walk in their shoes and make decisions exactly as they would.
How many listening sessions should you do? As many as you can, until there are no new themes coming through.
After conducting listening sessions, it becomes time to document and synthesise the results by grouping or looking for patterns based on intent (which creates the towers in the skyline visual). We group the towers into mental spaces.
Next comes identifying the different mental spaces that people are going through. Then you can start arranging the concepts into your own skyline.
Once you have built your mental model, which includes the thinking styles that people go through, you can use it in many ways:
Map your organisation’s support underneath the respective towers to show where you have gaps.
Overlay competitor capability for analysis.
Broaden your market by supporting more thinking styles.
Overlay other data (usability metrics)
When to use Mental Models?
There is a range of scenarios where researching Mental Models can be useful, such as:
When you want to innovate in a new direction;
Strategise broader and farther than your current solution;
When you spend a lot of time re-architecting / re-inventing;
When your existing user research is fragmented; or
You recognise you are out of touch with your audience:
You think everyone is your user
Make-believe and assumptions drive design decisions
No improvements after test and iterate cycles.
Another great benefit is the research can be re-used for other problems, as we’re not focusing on solution space.
Lately ‘outcome, not outputs’ is the subject of lots of conversation within product & agile circles. How do you know what those outcomes should be and what will truly support your customers?
RSVP for ProdAnon’s November session on Thursday November 21st to find out.
No single methodology will help you create the perfect product, but you can increase your odds by understanding people’s deep, messy thinking and reasons for doing things. Mental Models gives you the tools to uncover and design for those reasons.
Developed by Indi Young, this framework helps you curb assumptions & cognitive bias through a bottom-up approach to data analysis. With less bias and greater clarity of opportunities, this approach will help you more closely align design possibilities to your customer’s needs and your organisation’s capabilities.
Our speaker, Tafida Negm will walk us through some of the important concepts within Mental Models after introducing what it is and why you should incorporate it into your toolkit. There will be a few activities to aid you in having a go and gaining some confidence in trying it yourself when you get back to the office.
About the Speaker
Tafida Negm is an independent Human-Centred Researcher and Designer coming from a Marketing and Psychology background. As a consultant, she has gained a wide variety of experience across for purpose and commercial contexts helping lead teams from discovery through to launch. Witnessing the value research has delivered in shaping products and services, she has been on a mission to continually hone her research skills. Having spent the past year learning from Indi Young she is passionate about spreading her love of problem space research.
RSVP now. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Talk starts 6:30 pm
Over the years, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become the default question to measure and maximise value. But is it right? Is it true? Daniel Kinal joined us to share his thoughts.
Where did NPS come from? Back in 2003, Fred Reichheld introduced the concept to the world. He felt the current measures of loyalty were too convoluted and complicated. So he did his own study, with surprising results, even to him. What he came up with, Net Promoter Score – the one metric that was supposed to have the strongest correlation to company success.
Why should it work? The more likely you are to advocate for a brand, the more people will be willing to trial the product, therefore reducing your acquisition costs. Also, those advocates are more likely to be repeat customers and increasing their lifetime customer value. Score. Double score!
Simply irrelevant in some industries
Not predictive in a monopoly or near-monopoly conditions
Data analysed was historical, not future
Unconvincing replication studies.
Highly volatile measure
Obscures critical information
Is there a correlation? Well, yes. Is it good as a predictor for future success? Well, maybe not as much. In fact, in one study, NPS only explained 38% of future growth.
Bastardisation If you game your scores, what do you really achieve? From colour coding, nudging your scores, and filtering out negative results. What are you actually able to learn?
Is there an upside? Yes, some compelling aspects of NPS include, it is relatively cheap, fast, simple; and well accepted.
Already using NPS? Make the most of your data.
Don’t focus purely on the number.
Measure brand or full product experience rather than feature or interaction
Measure longitudinally and conduct trend rather than a point in time analysis
Keep it as scientific as you can (randomisation, third party research)
Compare your NPS to direct competitors
Remember what you are measuring (loyalty and propensity to evangelise, not product satisfaction).
Analyse the qualitative feedback
Collect actionable data too, such as customer satisfaction.
For a shorter version of Daniels’s talk please find this recording from his presentation at Web Directions. Here are the slides from the evening.
Thank you to Medibank for hosting, and all our Prod Anon volunteers for helping on the night, Nadia Gishen, Irene Toh, Marija Becker, Yau and Steve Cheah for this write-up.
In curating the speakers, she’s found there’s no shortage of local and international men keen to snap up the opportunity but female speakers are much harder to come by.
Sarah’s goal is to curate a diverse group of speakers to make it the best possible conference. Even after 5 years of LTP, it continues to be a challenge to get more female thought-leaders to agree to speak when invited, let alone respond to her call for applications to presenters.
She asked the group for their thoughts on how we can encourage more female product managers can step up and speak publicly.
We had a robust conversation which clearly highlighted that many women in the product management community would love the opportunity to present but need some support in the months and years leading up to being able to speak at a conference with a big audience.
What is holding women back from talking?
The discussion group shared their views on the challenges for women to be in a position to speak at a conference:
Imposter syndrome – people are worried about whether their topic is good enough and/or relevant to the audience.
Perfectionism – feel that they may not have the authority to talk so don’t even feel brave enough to initiate a conversation in a smaller forum. For as long as they don’t speak up even at work, then they will never be ready to advance to speak at a meetup or conference.
Anxiety and fear of public speaking – some expressed that they were unsure about how to conquer their fears to ‘go for it’.
Lack of experience – without videos or a history of previous speaking engagements makes it harder to get their initial speaking opportunities.
Lack of awareness – that there’s an open call for speakers for many conferences – ideally they get advance notice and know that they will have plenty of support and opportunity to practice in a safe environment.
Prioritising other activities – not having enough time to hone the craft of public speaking.
Unaware what they need to do to improve their public speaking skills – if they don’t get feedback on why they didn’t get invited or their presentation proposal didn’t get accepted, they end up ruminating on all the possible reasons that could be wrong with them, which doesn’t encourage them to keep finding new opportunities to speak.
Can’t find a mentor – would like to find someone to learn from but don’t know how to get one that’s right for them or willing to invest time in helping them improve their public speaking.
Iva Biva, a service designer who has been designing a solution to get more women involved in sport saw the parallels between women’s participation in sport with participation as speakers at conferences. She said that it’s the anxiety that’s stopping women from participating – the self-doubt and feeling that they are not good enough.
Here are some of the suggestions that the group came up with on how to address the above challenges:
Small support groups – Create a safe and supportive spaces for women to present their ideas in front of a small audience, as well as the opportunity to video and watch themselves
Model examples – Increase opportunities for women to see other women speak.
Co-present – to take the pressure off a novice speaker as they build up their confidence and ability.
More guidance – conference/meetup organisers need to provide more guidance on what they are looking for, how to come up with topics that would be appealing to their audiences and specific feedback to those who missed out on how they can improve and reapply next time.
Mentoring – make it easier for people to find suitable mentors that will help them improve and affirm that they are on the right track to presenting well in front of an audience.
Gain experience outside work through volunteering and pro bono projects.
Opportunities to get practice
The following groups provide lots of speaking opportunities:
Saturday August 24th was our 10th birthday and a big thank you to all the sponsors, speakers volunteers and attendees to made it a lovely day!
It is always a fantastic time when the tribe of people who care about making great products gets together and (if you ask me) Camp is the best day of the year for gaining new knowledge, sharing with others, meeting new people, catching up with friends and ex-colleagues and so much more.
Thanks to some amazing volunteers and attendees, we can share these notes from sessions you may have missed. If we’ve missed yours, add it in the comments. We’ll add more as volunteers send them in.
NPS is global phenomenon which we are told to ignore at our peril – but maybe it’s all pseudoscience!
When the concept of a single survey question to ask and a single number to track to gauge the health of your market offering was introduced to the world 15 years ago, it was to huge acclaim.
Today, it has become the default measure for many organisations, So well-established that so few of us stop to ask why we’re using it.
Daniel will take us back 15 years to the birth of NPS – what was the origin? What was the original intention? Then look at how it’s used now, where it might actually be useful and how it’s misused!
He’ll also talk to how we move forward with actionable measures that will make a difference.
Daniel will cover:
Understanding where NPS makes sense & how we should best employ it
Why NPS is probably not the right tool for product managers
Quantitative and qualitative measures that help us drive product development
Our Speaker: Daniel Kinal has been in product management for over 16 years, chiefly working in IT with a focus on B2B products & services.
He began his career in marketing, communications and consulting but soon learned that the aspect of marketing he loved most was working out what to build, for whom and why.
He gets excited about helping businesses become more effective in decision-making, more efficient in their processes and more engaged with their customers. Daniel is at his happiest when waving his arms about in front of a whiteboard with a bunch of smart people, exploring problems and weighing up solutions.
He is passionate about product management as a discipline and is intrigued by how businesses, large and small, grapple with the innovation, collaboration and the measuring of value.
Grant Hatamosa is the first employee of Zen Ecosystems, a hot upstart in the cleantech/smart grid industry. Grant has worn multiple hats through his journey of becoming Zen Ecosystems Vice President of Product. He was a call centre agent, field technician, manufacturing manager, and operations & support manager on top of his actual role as Product Manager. He currently spends his time on Business Development & Product Management preaching the gospel of energy efficiency to customers in the US and Australia. Prior to his stint at Zen Ecosystems, Grant was a lead software developer for Planet Innovation, a company that was awarded Australia’s Most Innovative Company for a number of years. He also had stints in Singapore and the Philippines for NXP Semiconductors and Lexmark Research and Development respectively.
Shannon Gilleland is a project manager come entrepreneur who earned her stripes not only managing schedules across 12 international teams, for a global games company, but from getting her virtual hands dirty in the e-commerce business setting up and running multiple online businesses. She’s now putting her entrepreneurial, project management and problem solving skills to good use by helping solve one of the worlds plastic pollution problems as well as helping her fellow parents travel easier with a baby.
Carl Rigoni is the founder & CEO of SixSix. With a strong track record in successfully managing portfolios of digital and traditional businesses, generating revenues in excess of $1B, Carl is a leading force in helping our clients achieve their economic goals in the digital landscape. Carl also has extensive experience in building multiple cross functional digital incubation teams to facilitate innovation and Enterprise transformation agendas. Furthermore, he has launched highly successful disruptive products such as an award winning Whereis Mobile Application, Sensis1234, and a national Digital Change of Address Notification service.
Caitlin Blackwell is the acting Head of Product for the candidate experience at SEEK. Caitlin joined us last Thursday to talk about continuous discovery and how SEEK is using this framework.
Caitlin talked to how you can generalise the product manager role into 2 areas – deciding what to build and then building it. Teresa Torres talks to how we have gotten really good at shipping quickly via Agile, Lean Startup and other frameworks. We haven’t had the same emphasis on deciding what to build – ie continuous discovery.
We risk wasted effort when we rush to building and don’t do the work to understand what is needed. We can build an MVP quickly but you might have to wait a while until you have a good enough sample size or feedback to keep moving forward or realise you don’t have the right solution.
Caitlin believes discovery is all about being able to make better decisions through the product process. There’s several reasons we make bad decisions (aka the villains) including lack of clarity on the problem, being overconfident, etc.
A part of Teresa Torres’ framework they use is opportunity maps. This visual mapping lets you clearly state the outcome you want (linked back to your OKRs of course!), show the customer needs and show several solutions that may help you reach the goal.
Speaking to customers is key. Caitlin said their teams (ux & product combined) do 5 customer interviews every fortnight with a standup at end of day to share insights with the rest of the team. It’s important to talk to customers to learn about them, not only test out ideas.
The map helps to visualise the situation though you still have work to do in order to decide which customer opportunity and solution to move forward with. After sizing the opportunity to decide which to explore, you should ideate & validate assumptions through experiments.
Caitlin walked through one example where the OKR was to increase the SAT score of a particular customer segment. She shared some of the tools and ways SEEK walks through continuous discovery. (See the slides at the end this article)
Once you’ve decided which opportunity to go after, it’s time to ideate & validate. There are different tools you can use to experiment and test your ideas (slide 21 has a list).
A few tips:
Spend 5 minutes a day to brainstorm. Frequently spending a short time is less cognitively draining than an hour brainstorm!
Do what you can to learn quickly in order to move forward. Talking with 2 customers is better than no customers. You can still learn something from those 2 (sample size is important but you can learn and be smart about what you’re hearing from small numbers)
Map your assumptions! Decide how you validate/disprove each of them.
During the talk, Caitlin gave us a few examples of how using continuous discovery can help create better products.
First up a product fail. When launching a new product which employers did not have access to, they came up with an ‘access code’ solution process to assist. The team ran an experiment to test the process but didn’t test their assumptions enough before launching – particularly really questioning the desirability and usability of a long process. The sales team’s feedback from employers was it is difficult to change behaviour without showing the value of doing so.
A win… SEEK wanted to introduce the ability to search for jobs by commuting distance. They listed their assumptions, what data they needed to assess risk and how they’d get that quickly. Testing made them realise it’s not just distance in km that’s relevant to job seekers as 10k on a tram vs a highway trip is very different time wise. Experimenting allowed them to dig deeper into understanding the candidate need.
How can you get started with continuous discovery?
Talk to users frequently. Ask them how they use your product.
Decide what metric you want to shift. This could be your OKR.
When ideating, go broad. Go for quantity. You can narrow later.
Do some sort of assumption mapping before you start building. Even if it’s listing out assumptions without a framework.
To Learn More
Caitlin recommends the following:
An introduction to Modern Product Discovery & more resources – Teresa Torres