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.

Encouraging Ethics Conversations – May Wrap

In recent years, the harm caused by technology has come under greater scrutiny. Whether at an individual product level, or the ecosystem created by a combination of products. 

  • How can we anticipate and mitigate against harm?
  • Bring an ethical lens into the product design process?
  • And map the potential bias in the systems we create.

If you’re struggling to find an answer, you’re probably not alone. 

After numerous years working in tech companies and startups, Laura Summers identified a lack of tools to facilitate ethics conversations. This led Laura to found Debias.AI, and create Ethical Litmus Tests – a deck of cards with prompts and questions to help reframe a scenario, and apply different lenses during the design process.

We were fortunate to have Laura join our May session, and using the Litmus Tests, take us through an interactive exploration of ethics in product design.

https://twitter.com/summerscope/status/1263290459217989639

Why is it so important?

Making trade-offs is part of designing and building products. But have you ever deeply considered what the impact of those options could be? Do you justify the decisions with yourselves, for the net (or greater) good?

But would you feel comfortable explaining your choices to a close younger relative?

Or what if the user was your elderly grandparent?

By applying these types of lenses, would you change the way you approach these decisions?

How does the Ethics Litmus Test work?

Define the motivator or driver

Describe the problem or scenario. The motivating concern can be either broad (eg, I’ve got a niggling feeling about this outcome), or very specific (eg, what if data was misused). 

Pick a litmus card at randOM

Select a card to help you reframe your view.

Write down your responses individually

With the litmus card in mind, spend a couple of minutes to consider:

  • Opinion: your position to the scenario
  • Questions: if you need to know more information
  • Next steps: action items

Share your responses

  • Compare and contrast your responses. 
  • Are you surprised?
  • Explain your thinking.

Some alternative activities to share your thoughts and responses:

  • The Blind Advocate – pass your response to another participant, and take turns to argue for another person’s opinion. A true exercise in empathy!
  • The Brainstorm – good for bigger groups, share your thoughts on post-its, or a digital retro board (like FunRetro), and then you can sort the responses into themes.

In this session, we all had some practice and fun, as Laura ran through several interactive scenarios with the Litmus Tests. Using the breakout rooms, we were able to discuss each scenario in small & bigger groups.

Resources and Further Reading

Read more about Laura and her work:

Thank you to our host: A Cloud Guru

Thank you to A Cloud Guru for hosting us online again this month. A Cloud Guru’s mission is to teach the world to cloud. We’re hiring