What Dev Teams need from Product Managers – Product Camp 2016 Wrap-up

What do dev teams need from their product managers? Product and Tech work very closely with each other but not always very well.

Daniel Kinal, Senior Product Manager at MYOB, talked about how we can improve that working relationship.

Building trust with your team members is a big one. They need to trust you as well as you trust them. Having that trust helps your team work more effectively and autonomously.

The HR people at Google put a diagram together after doing some investigation into what makes a Google team effective and Daniel suggested that, as product managers, we should look at how we can contribute to all 5 of these elements as, not only do they help build trust, but they also directly help developers build better products more efficiently.


The HR team determined that there are five key dimensions that make successful teams stand out at Google:

  • Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  • Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
  • Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  • Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  • Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

A discussion with the wider group talked about how product managers can directly affect each of these areas. We are particularly well suited to helping with the last 3 as we can translate the strategic and tactical reasons for our development efforts to our team and also articulate the customer benefits. That said, it is also incredibly valuable to let developers view customer behaviour (e.g. through viewing UX testing sessions) to see how their handiwork impacts users directly.

How can you build trust?

  • Share the vision! Tech teams need to know where the product is headed in order to be thinking of the future when developing
  • Be transparent! Let them know if there’s an issue. They might be able to help or at least now know why X is like that.
  • Connect them to customers! NOTHING is better than seeing someone using the code you wrote to understand what works & what doesn’t. Understanding the customer’s problem before they even write a single line of code will also aid in development.

Daniel Kinal - What do development teams need from their Product Managers


Guest Post: Your First Product Management Job

A couple people at this year’s Product Camp Melbourne suggested topics around getting into product management, getting hired into their first product management job and wanting to know more about the role. We combined them all into one session, got a few people to be on the panel (which morphed into a round table discussion) and away we went.

One of the attendees, Darren Duarte, has provided the following session notes:

A morning round-table session had a great turnout from people wanting to get into Product Management and those wishing to share their experiences. It was a natural two way conversation from both perspectives.

Getting into the role – perspective from someone who has hired:
The first step in the recruitment process – getting through HR or a recruitment consultant – is the most difficult. To have the best chance of getting through this 1st stage, your resume & cover letter should focus on the transferable skills & experiences which are similar to Product Management responsibilities. Your resume should also tell the reader what value you can bring.

Building your network through events like Product Camp and Product Anonymous makes it easier through this first stage. It also shows you are interested in learning.

Many hiring managers know that Product Managers come from diverse backgrounds and that’s ok (e.g. Coding, Business, Science, Project Management, Engineering, etc.). Experiences doesn’t necessarily need to come from the same industry.

Words of wisdom from the group:
One person was previously a Project Manager who identified gaps in tasks that needed to be done in the organisation. They naturally went ahead & completed those tasks. It was only later that they realised they were doing a Product Management role. Having worked in the organisation and previously done the work meant becoming a ‘product manager’ didn’t feel to different.

Others have completed short courses in Product Management – either at Brainmates or General Assembly.

Maybe you have identified the need for a Product Manager in your organisation? If so, have a conversation with management about the value the product manager role brings to the organisation. When structuring a new Product Management position in an organisation, it should be at the right level of influence to support the products.

Thanks to Amanda Ralph, Chris Duncan, Marie Phillips, Liz Blink and all others who contributed to the conversation.

Product Camp 2015 – Camp wrap-up

It’s hard to believe the 6th annual Product Camp Melbourne was 2 weeks ago!

After months of organisation, the day happens in a flash & then a flurry of getting wrap-up posts together (THIS never happens as quickly as we hope!).

Thanks all who attended! And thanks for your great feedback! Many of you said you thought this one was the best yet so THANK YOU for making it a great day!

Steve Bauer welcoming everyone & kicking off the day! Product Camp Melbourne 2015

Crowd shot

Product Camp is an un-conference so all talks are participant lead & driven with the exception of the keynotes. Before the day, we ask those interested in leading a topic to add their idea to the Camp Uservoice. You can still add topics right up to the last second before voting begins though. This year we had a range – some great prepared presentations as well as round table discussions on a specific topic.

Everyone who puts up a topic idea, gives a explanation & then the voting begins.

Product Camp Melbourne 2015Something we’ve been doing the last few years is a speed networking session. This gives you the chance to meet several people really quickly – and allows Liz to have a reason to stand on a table and have a whistle 🙂 Product Camp Melbourne 2015

Product Camp Talks

Whether you missed the day or want to revisit some of the talks, we’ve pulled together the following notes:

Narrative UX

Our last session of the day was from Georgina Laidlaw on Narrative UX.

Considering the amount of votes this session had, along with conversations I had – not many of us attending were familiar with the concept (I certainly wasn’t). Learning something completely new was a fantastic way to wrap up the day!

Georgina had us reflect on who writes the words in our products – the labels, the error messages, helpful tips to explain, the navigation, etc. Product? UX? Developers? A combination of lots of people?

Using both Dropbox & Airbnb as examples, she showed us a list of extracted words for certain functionality. What does your list consist of when users login? For signing up to a new account? For searching or saving a item? We use words all the time to try to clarify – do they work?

Product Camp Melbourne 2015

I have to admit, I’ve never looked at the language without the context of seeing it on the page/mobile screen. There was something new, great & freeing about seeing it in a word document. Previously I’ve had to pull together lists like this for translation but they sat in excel with commentary on context or notes like ‘sits in a pop up message, keep it short’. Narrative UX puts the focus on the conversation the product has with the customer.

To drive that home, Georgina had 2 volunteers (Alex & Katherine) come up and have a conversation together – one as Airbnb and the other a customer using the site.

Product Camp Melbourne 2015

Key points from Georgina

  • Narrative UX is ‘writing the words that create our product’s story’
  • Get a writer involved early in the development of functionality
  • Develop brand, marketing & product language style guides

I’d like to add a few additional items from Georgina:

  • Write words that carry the user through the process
  • Have a writer talk with users to understand what words make sense & which they use to describe a scenario
  • You can influence emotions with the narrative & language of the product

Want more? Georgina recommends: Voiceandtone.com, Steph Hay and Jessica Collier

Sales, managing people and seeing the future with roadmaps

We had 3 morning sessions:

  • Sold in 30 seconds – Shane Goldberg
  • Bring your new roadmap to life – Chris Duncan
  • Managing products is easy but managing people is hard – Craig Brown

Sold in 30 seconds

Shane Goldberg

In July, Shane spoke at Product Anonymous on tips for working better with Sales. Having worked in both product & sales, Shane can help us understand the intersection and this time his session was ‘Sold in 30 seconds’.

Shane talked about why it’s important to be able to quickly explain your product and what information you should consider when developing how to talk about the product. It’s also important for sales to be able to quickly explain the product. Shane said there are 4 questions to ask:

  • What is my product?
  • What problem(s) does it solve (or what demand does it meet)?
  • How is it different?
  • Why should you care?


Bring your new roadmap to life

Chris Duncan

We always love it when people share HOW they do something and Chris talked about his process of roadmapping which ends up with a roadmap (complete with examples of that artifact).

Product Camp Melbourne 2015


Managing products is easy but managing people is hard

– suggested by Craig Brown

We know we should spend more time on the human side of work – the relationship, building trust, having respect for each other – but with constant pressure or being divided across many priorities, how much time do we really spend on this? Often feelings & personal motivations are last on the list.

Craig asked how many of us had previously worked in a great team & then what was that magic those teams had… trust & respect. Sometimes difficult conversations need to happen but hopefully you are aligned at the end of them.

What can we do?

  • Do things outside the office with each other – yes there’s drinking but also other things like play tennis
  • Include your team in the decisions
  • Be kind. Show empathy.
  • Have your team meet customers – go on visits, have the team watch customers use the product, etc.

Product Camp Melbourne – this Saturday!

Hi all,

This upcoming Saturday is the 6th annual Product Camp Melbourne!

If you’ve already RSVP’d, we’re looking forward to seeing you on Saturday! It’s a camp so things can change although we have a rough schedule.

Doors will be open from 8:30am for attendees (& breakfast will be served starting then!) We’ll kick off at 9am.

You can check out the suggested topics for the day and there’s still time to throw your hat in the ring. If you’re interested in leading a topic, you can add it to the list or even suggest it on the day (all topics presented are voted on by the audience).

If you have any questions please contact us on Twitter or Meetup or any of the other places you can reach us 🙂

Remember, after camp wraps up, we’ll have drinks. For those who want to continue on, many of us go for dinner. You’re welcome to come along.

See you on Saturday!

If only I’d had a tardis: Why you shouldn’t rely on time travel to manage your product financials

amanda profile pic circle bwThere’s lots of conversation about product management and technology. Interested in learning about agile and product management? Or how tech & product management need to work together? Or maybe you’re in the ‘everyone, including product managers, should code’ camp?

But these conversations rarely touch on another important side of product management – money! This is why one of our camp themes this year is finance & why we’re excited to announce Amanda’s keynote!

Amanda Ralph, Head of Product at Kinetic Super, will talk us through why understanding your product financials is so fundamental to driving your product in both its strategic and tactical direction. Amanda will cover:

  • Understanding product value drivers
  • Translating value drivers into actionable portfolio metrics
  • Managing your BAU financials
  • Why good financial management will “buy” you influence and the ability to release value for innovation
  • It’s not just about shipping your product – why you need to understand P & L Basics

Amanda Ralph is an experienced product management leader with over 18 years of experience in product portfolio management and innovation, generating significant revenue and market share growth. In a career spanning a range of corporate and not for profit sectors within Australia and the Pacific Islands, Amanda has championed organisations to embrace product and service innovation opportunities. Over the past 2 years Amanda spearheaded the direction and execution of the product and pricing strategy for the Corporate and Overseas portfolios for Australia’s largest health insurer, Medibank, managing an $860m+ product portfolio. Most recently, Amanda has taken on the role of Head of Product at Kinetic Super, a challenger super brand with $3B funds under management.

Amanda is passionate about customer led product design to deliver best in market products and customer outcomes but also understands the need and value of strong product portfolio financial management.

Amanda has a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Arts (Asian Studies) from Monash University and is a University of Melbourne Asialink Leadership Fellow and Asia Education Foundation Literacy Ambassador. Amanda lives in Melbourne with her family and in her spare time likes to explore all things cooking related (with a dose of the gym thrown in to try and work it all off!)

Product Camp 2015 – date announced!

Hi everyone!

Mark Saturday August 22nd in your calendar. Block it out now. Tell everyone you’re busy and they shouldn’t even think of organising something for that day! Why?

Product Camp Melbourne 2015 on Saturday August 22nd!

More details to come, of course, but start thinking about the following:

  • would you like to volunteer & help organise the day?
  • are you interested in speaking?
  • do you know someone who would make a great keynote speaker?
  • would like to hear about a particular topic but don’t want to do the talk?
  • are you interested in sponsoring the event?

There’s 5 years of summaries to check out from previous camps in Melbourne so have a look & get in touch if you have any questions regarding sponsorships, giving a talk, volunteering or anything else.

Wrap-up: Product Camp Melbourne 2014 (part 3)

This is our last summary post for Product Camp Melbourne 2014. Make sure you read Part 1, Part 2, the post on Product Management Tools and our keynote summary on Scaling Product Management. You can also check out the photos on flickr.

We hope to see you next year at the 6th PCamp Melbourne!

Using Lean Canvas as a communication tool for Business Groups, Product Manager, Engineers and Design – Humphrey Laubscher


Humphrey is passionate about the use of the Lean Canvas as a common communication tool which can be used as the anchor for all product decisions and development focus. In this session, Humphrey gave us an intro to the canvas & how it can help teams

Running lean and oiling the product ownership machine – Nadia Gishen & Adrian McInnes

Nadia & Adrian (aka Ginno) from PageUp People talked about the structural changes to their product & development teams and workflow which has included adding a product owner role, having a separate product strategy group and additional development resources. They shared their insights & learnings that become blindingly obvious to them once they stripped away process & overhead.

If you want to hear more about this talk, Ginno will be presenting at the Agile BA Melbourne Meetup on November 11th


  • It’s easy to add roles like BAs & Project managers in Agile teams – but true product ownership starts with the PO and a good PO will ensure that the team has a shared ownership of the product with the PO – enabling the whole team to make the best decisions for the product!
  • Product owners hate to fail. The people who become POs will be the people who keep on eye on the bigger picture and make sure that the whole team will deliver, as their success is dependent on the teams success. As people who hate to see the ball dropped, POs will always be there to back up the team members and ensure that the product is a success – that is why it’s been such a key role to develop within the team.
  • Road maps or just continuously adding value? PageUp People wanted to shift the development focus from projects & big roadmap items items into the idea of owning a part of the product and being able to make decisions every week that continuously add value smaller development items add up to big value

Adrienne & Liz start the final prize draw session of the day!

Brainmates gave away their ‘Essentials of Product Management’ course to this lucky guy, Peter.

Prize winners / SensorSix

Food Blogger’s Corner
Thanks to Roz for photos & food commentary!

To finish the day, Telstra Wholesale provided the last sugar rush to get us through another session, prize giveaway & the ability to walk across the street.

Afternoon Tea

Caramel and chocolate slices ( oatmeal base..suspiciously healthy)

We had to walk across the street to Sahara for post camp drinks and snacks that were being sponsored by Rich Mironov. & Mashery. It was a great way to end the day.

Arriving at Sahara post camp

Thank you to all our sponsors & prize sponsors! And another huge thanks to our organisers, the volunteers and everyone who attended!