Wrap-up: Product Camp Melbourne (part 2)

Check out our other posts on Product Camp Melbourne 2014: Part 1, Part 3, Tools for Product Management & Ben Ross’s keynote on Scaling Product Management and finally, there’s photos on flickr.

As a newbie to Product Camp, I had no expectations as to what the experience would be like other than a bunch of Tom Ford bespectacled people huddled in front of Apple laptops, chugging coffee and bandying around words like “unicorns”, “above the fold” and other unintelligible mumbo jumbo. I was pleasantly surprised to a find warm engaging crowd and willing to forgo a beautiful Saturday to unpack the arcane practice of product management and enlighten their fellow brethren. – Roz

Continuing with our sessions wrap-up:

A practical view on Jobs to be Done

In the quest for the perfect product, deciding what to work on is always the biggest challenge: how to understand what customers need?

Getting ready to start the JTBD session

YourGrocer has been using the Jobs to Be Done framework for a while now and are quite happy with the results. They’ve found there’s lots of material online to help understand the technique but it’s quite hard to find examples of it being applied in real life scenarios. This was a chance for them to share their real life JTBD experience including interivews with 20 customers earier this year.


Tweet: Camp session on JTBD

The YourGrocer guys were at Product Anonymous this past year so if you’d like to know more, there’s a session wrap-up on ‘Defining your product (& the benefit of not having much money)‘.

Panel: How to Break into Product Management

At Product Anonymous, we get people who are interested in moving into Product Management so this panel discussion was inspired by those people. While we didn’t realise this before pulling the panel together… everyone on the panel was actively looking for product managers. Some of their candidate considerations include: good decision making, empathy, being comfortable with the unknown and able to deal with conflict. By now, you’re probably wondering who…


  • Everyone on the panel has come into Product Management with a different background so there is not just one standard path people take into the role.
  • You need to be able to appreciate & understand business financials, such as a P&L
  • You should try to get a wide range of experience across disciplines – a product manager needs to be able to relate to and effectively communicate with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • It’s easier to move into product role from within your existing company than to be recruited with no prior experience.
  • You need to have persistence, good communication plus negotiation and stakeholder skills.

Productise your APIs – Jason Cormier

Almost all digital products have APIs working behind the scenes, but not many of them are open to 3rd parties. What happens when you start thinking of your APIs as a product? Is there a customer segment, is it a potential new revenue stream, could it help grow your brand? Jason helped run the open API program at Sensis and shared what he learnt when they turned a backend service into a consumer product. He ran this session as an interactive one so no slides from camp – but check out a previous post on this topic.

Roz’s Food Blogger’s Corner
In Part 1 of our summary, I mentioned how this idea came to be. We’ll be continuing in all summaries.

Morning Tea
Thanks to Telstra Wholesale who sponsored both morning & afternoon tea!

Savoury mini muffins

This tray is almost gone!

Thank you to PageUp People who sponsored lunch!

Lunch awaits.

Vegetarian sandwiches (pumpkin, provolone, spinach) on white and wholemeal plus sandwiches with fancy lettuce & pork

Chicken wraps and Pork wraps (tricky to eat while standing up) – and jelly beans!

Keynote summary: Scaling Product Management

Our keynote this year was Ben Ross, GM of User Experience & Design, at MYOB who spoke about Scaling Product Management.

Ben talked about how MYOB has doubled their development team but kept the product management team the same size. To handle this, they need to be strategic with their decision making & where they invested their time.


Ben shared some insights, tools and learnings he developed/borrowed. He’s a fan of ‘stealing’ aka trying ideas you read or hear about and adapting them to your needs.

There are many ways people have tried to describe product management… the CEO of the product, the conductor of the orchestra but Ben has a different analogy – the product manager as the central nervous system, not the brain. As a PM, you are a core part of the system, linked to every part of the business. You need to know what is happening in each part – but you are not driving each part as the brain would.


Keynote Tweet 1

Some of the learnings from Ben’s talk:

    • Research, borrow, copy or adjust other peoples’ ideas or tools for road mapping, planning, UX docs, assigning work etc. Use what you can get access to and continue to adopt it and change it to make sense for your business and needs.
    • Don’t change your roadmap too often – you (& your sales folks) need to remain focused.
    • Hire great people! Recruit for agility and the capability, rather than skills. The team needs to continuously improve and develop. Build up a set of capabilities you see fit for your Product Management team and when hiring, choose people based on this.
    • The team is incredibly important. Like a good film crew, the production is better if people have a understanding and appreciation of what everyone else is doing and how this contributes to the final product. Use the whole team…everyone does a bit of everything (big letter vs small letter). They realised BAs could be utalised better by letting them do more which helps the product managers. To scale the product team, was important to work better with the project managers.
    • Document and codify processes: Have clear tools and structures for communication, information distribution and decision making. #RoadMaps #LeanBusinessCanvas #RAPID decision making
    • Work out exactly where the Product Manager needs to be involved in the workflow of product development and ensure the whole team understands responsibilities. Ben recommends Bain’s – Who has the ‘D’ which enables teams to plan and understand who needs to make the decision.
    • Enable all members of the wider team to contribute to product related ideas, where it makes sense. For example, everyone should understand how to complete a lean canvas, so when the idea gets to the Product Manager it has been fleshed out.
    • Create great physical environment that fosters ongoing interaction and collaboration between teams and within teams. MYOB moved offices so they could have an open space with everyone together on 1 floor. They’re big enough that they needed to use an entire floor of a shopping centre!
    • Try and keep a startup mentality in your every day work. No matter how large the organisation.


    Ben’s recommended reads & follows:


    Thanks to Janet Horwell, Liz Blink and Roz (& anyone else I may have missed!) for helping pull together this post.

Wrap-up: Product Camp Melbourne 2014 (part 1)

So much happened during Product Camp, we’re pulling together a few updates.  This is part 1 of the overall summary and we have a post on the Product Manager Tools session. There’s also part 2 and part 3 and the keynote on Scaling Product Management by Ben Ross.

In what’s becoming a Product Camp Melbourne tradition, we ran a ‘speed networking’ session. You have less than a minute to meet the person across from you & introduce yourself. It’s a high energy way to start, meet a bunch of people and Liz keeps us all in line! As one attendee said:

you got to talk to someone who a) was working in the PM space; b) looking to get into it; c) generally interested in the PM ecosystem or; d) all of the above.

Being an un-conference, all topics are participant created. We had topics suggested prior to the day (as posted on Uservoice) and topics from folks who volunteered right there on the spot. Each person who suggested a talk had the chance to give a brief overview to the attendees & the voting began.

All that was required was a little forethought, stickers, pen and paper. Great real life demonstration of “product-market fit” in action. – Roz

What did we talk about on the day?  We’re working on short summaries of each of the talks.  Here’s batch #1:

How to take your Product Management Career to the Next Level

Product Managers have always been thought of as the CEO’s of their product, but in recent years Product Managers have been stepping up to CEO roles in major companies as boards recognise the importance of having coherent and amazing product strategies. How can you take your career to the next level? What is that level?  Our panel included:

A few tidbits…

Learning the language of business is important. You want to care about what the CEO cares about.

Start with the people. How does your product make money? What does it cost? Adrienne mentionned using a Value Driver Tree to help understand your product.  If you don’t know the answer to some of these questions, Paul suggested finding the right people in your organisation who can help you understand the full situation.

It’s easy to get stuck in the daily tactical to-do list but you need to carve out time for other things.  Adrienne highly recommended connecting with other product managers as one of the professional development items you need.

As this is an un-conference, the attendees were participating in the conversation.  Amanda Ralph said you should know how your product is doing via a set a metrics you look at every day (& these should link back to the bigger picture).

Don’t wait to for someone to say you can go do ‘x’, just go. Learn all you can.

You should map where you want to go with your career.  It doesn’t need to be a 5 year  plan but look forward.  It’s important to write down where you want to go and think out the steps required to get you there so you can start taking action – do you need a class to learn more about finance? Do you need a mentor or sponsor within your current business or externally? Putting it on paper (tablet) helps to make it more concrete.

Web Product Strategy for New Ideas – Fox Woods

Based on her experience at a hackathon, Fox Woods talked about how to plan and test new ideas. Using a systematic approach, she ran though 7 steps you can use to help decide if your idea is something to move ahead with and what to watch out for if you do.

If you’d like to know more, you read Fox’s article about her SheHacks experience and working through the team’s ideas.

Innovation Types Overview & SCAMPER ideation – Mark Sokacic

Mark gave us bird’s eye view of 4 classification models related to innovation types:

  • Moore’s 16 Innovation types
  • Sahway’s 12 Dimensions
  • Doblin’s 10 Types
  • Business Model Innovation Method

Then Mark covered Michalko’s SCAMPER as a framework to think about product innovation.

What's scamper?

What’s scamper? (image credit: Roz)

We all SCAMPER-ed and workshopped the idea of an aged care mobile app with Mark acting as facilitator and whiteboard scribe. We ended up reinventing a wearable reminder tool for the elderly into a smart house /green solution for a much broader market.


Minimum Delightful Product – Ben Rowe

We’ve all accepted that creating an MVP is the smart way to build digital products. The problem with MVPs, though, is there’s a danger in rushing to market with something that’s viable, but misses the ‘delight’ factor.

Ben’s talk explained the topic of delight, and spoke about the two different levels of delight that can be added to your product.

First there’s ‘Surface Delight’. This is the highly visible, visceral elements that create a great first impression. A beautiful user interface, playful transitions and interactions, and pithy microcopy are examples of surface delight.

But the problem with this type of delight is that it fades over time, so we must also consider the next level – Deep Delight. Deep delight is about creating a long-lasting delightful experience. Ben spoke about concepts like invisibility and flow to create sustained delight. And that deep delight is created by being aligned with your user’s values, and helping them to be awesome.

Asking the question, “What’s the smallest thing we can build that will delight our customer?” can help us finding the balance between launching quickly to validate a hypothesis, versus launching something that your users fall in love with.

Food Blogger’s Corner

It hadn’t occured to me to have a special section on the food but after a chat with Roz during breakfast, it sounded perfect! Product Camp organisers would like to thank Xero for sponsoring breakfast and a serious thanks to MYOB for sponsoring the 92 Degree Espresso coffee cart and barista to make sure we were all caffienated!

Here’s Roz’s taken on our breakfast situation:

Breakfast sponsored by Xero
Fruit cups
Pikelets with chicken, mayonnaise and saffron threads
Selection of museli and yoghurt
Selection of pastries (mmm… cherry danishes. Atkins diet, be damned!)
Pikelets with chicken, mayonnaise and saffron threads
Fruit Cups
Coffee Cart sponsored by MYOB
Getting caffeinated with 92 Degrees Espresso & MYOB

Thanks to our the people who contributed their notes from the day & made this post & the forthcoming posts possible including: Roslyn Lau (copy & food pix & comments), Janet Horwell, Jon Hardy (who took the  majority of the wonderful pix!) & our speakers!


Product Management Tools

At Product Camp Melbourne in 2010, Carrie Lowther & I faciliated a session on product management tools. Since then, there has been a series of product management software tools – to help create roadmaps & manage ideas & such. In 2010 there were only 1 or 2 in the market. I thought it was time to have another session to see if things had changed, if people were using the new tools or if Excel and Powerpoint were still incredibly popular.

This time, Adrienne Tan from Brainmates & Aaron Cottrell from Zendesk, helped to faciliate.

We had an initial braindump of what we use, what’s new & then started charting though the lifecycle. Later I realised we missed stakeholder management so if you’re interested in that, Brainmates has a blog post on Practical Tools for Stakeholder Management.

In that intial braindump, we included Trello (for to-do lists & to even help design your PM process), Basecamp (for file drops & helping to collaborate), UserVoice & GetSatisfaction, Sharepoint, Powerpoint, Email, Slack, PivotalTracker or JIRA (for backlog or storyboarding), Yammer (for collaboration & becomes a defacto source of documentation – for good or bad), Salesforce & Google Docs.

Idea Collection

  • Trello
  • GetSatisfaction
  • Uservoice
  • Twitter / User forums / Social Media
  • Win/Loss Analysis (incorporated into Salesforce & posted to Yammer)
  • Net Promoter Scores
  • Competitor Support lines (as in phoning your competitor)
  • Simple Mind –  a mindmapping tool

Idea Validation








Marketing Comms

Personal Productivity

  • Trello – to-do lists
  • Boomerang – for those using gmail, it schedules mails, sends reminders & does email tracking


  • Google Analytics
  • Using surveys for feedback like SurveyMonkey

What’s new?

We pulled together a list of new software – most of which we haven’t tried.  A few of the ones on the list below were prize sponsors at this year’s camp so hopefully next year we’ll have some people who can talk about their experience with the software.

Have others to add to this list?  You can do that in the comments below.   Thanks! Jen

Thanks for a great day!!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Saturday at Product Camp Melbourne this past Saturday!

We had a great day & want to thank everyone for their help – the volunteers, the speakers, the attendees, the sponsors, the organisers … everyone!

We’re putting together a summary of the day as we know you couldn’t attend all 11 sessions! If you have notes you’d like to contribute to the blog post, let us know. They can be raw or written up blog post style.

If you’ve already posted a summary/review, let us know so we can link to you.

Thanks! Jen

Questions about Product Camp

We’ve had a few questions about this week’s camp so thought I’d pull them together here.

How does camp work?

Product Camp Melbourne is an un-conference. Other than the keynote, all sessions topics are driven by participants. The topics go on the wall to be voted on & which determines the day’s schedule.

How much does it cost?

Money wise, it’s free. We organise sponsors to pay for the venue & food so you don’t have to. Brain power wise, we encourage you to participate in discussions, be on a panel & even lead a talk.

Where is it?

This year is being hosted by Sensis in their building at QV. We’ll post a map soon.

What time does it start/end?

We recommend you arrive at 8:30am for check-in. Free coffee and breakfast will be setup so you can grab something to eat and drink while chatting with other attendees.

We kick off at 9am. We have a *rough schedule* but as it’s an unconference… it may change slightly.

The discussions end about 4:30pm. Everyone is invited to continue on for a drink nearby at Sahara bar. Drinks and food provided by our sponsor Intel Mashery. Later some of us go out for dinner.

What is talked about & how long are the sessions?

Sessions are attendee driven but obviously focus around product management, product marketing & the things that go into creating great products like communication, usability, frameworks, etc. Session topics have been posted on Uservoice & more will be coming on the day. Each session lasts about 30-45 minutes.

How long should I plan if I’m interested in giving a talk? Do I need to use slides?

Estimate 30-45 minutes per talk including time for questions or activities. It will depend on how many sessions we have over the course of the day but not shorter than 30 minutes.

You don’t need to use slides but you can if you want. We recommend sessions that are facilitated conversations, an activity, more interactive over talking to slides (of course, we understand slides can illustrate so let us know if you have any).

Won’t I get hungry?

Our sponsors will be providing breakfast, coffee, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea & end of session drinks. We intend on keeping you fed.

Keynote announcement: Ben Ross from MYOB

General Manager/User Experience & Design at MYOB, Ben Ross is one of our keynotes on Saturday 4th.

Ben’s talk:

How MYOB scaled product management

Product management is a role that covers an end to end process for creating and maintaining complex digital products and services.

Product managers are at the heart of defining and managing this end to end process – if your PM’s are the centre of your organisational universe (which they should be), and are very very busy, then you need to find a way to efficiently scale them.

In his keynote presentation, Ben will explain how MYOB has created a playbook to scale product management to enable PMs to sustainably manage offerings from concept to production and beyond.

RSVP now!

Camp Update

We are excited to announce Ben Ross as one of our keynotes this year. Ben is the General Manager – User Experience & Design at MYOB.

We’re welcoming some new sponsors this year & some that have been supporting us for years! Thanks go out to Brainmates, Intel Mashery, MYOB, PageUp People, Product Anonymous & Xero.

There will be a couple more announcements on another keynote and sponsors coming.

If you haven’t yet, check out the talks posted so far to Uservoice and start voting.  This is your un-conference so if there is something you want to hear about – add it to the list!

Make sure you RSVP to join us on the 4th of October!

Product Camp Melbourne: Talks

How will Product Camp Melbourne work you ask?

Product Camp Melbourne is 2 months away and we would like to let you know what to expect and what we are working on to make this a great day for you.

Product Camp is an unconference – this means the content and talks are by the community for the community. No sponsors talking at you pitching their own products, but talks within sessions decided by you. If you haven’t experienced Product Camp before, you can get a feel for it by reading last year’s wrap-up.

We are running the day this year with four themes to guide the submissions, but these will finally be decided by the votes from the conference attendees (YOU!). Our themes will be Lean, UX/design, Careers and Mystery Box. The Mystery Box is all about the surprises – what have we missed, what do you absolutely need to hear more about, and what is burning in your head right now.

Suggestions for talks should be posted to Uservoice and the community votes on what they would like to hear about.

You can get involved  in a few different ways:

  • Vote on the topic that appeals to you most that you would like to hear on the day, or
  • Want to lead a discussion or present on a specific topic? Post the topic on Uservoice (indicating the theme it is in) and whether it is a presentation or an activity, or
  • Is there a topic you’d love to hear covered but don’t want to lead that discussion? Post what you’d like to hear and note it needs a speaker, or
  • Suggest a speaker you think would be great to hear and what topic you’d love to hear them talk about

The Camp Organising group will reach out to you to help with shaping your session. They’ll give tips and suggestions from previous Product Anonymous events which will help you have a great experience presenting.

The top voted sessions will get an opportunity to pitch to allow the attendees to confirm the talks they want to hear on the day.

Other great things happening on the day – 2 keynotes, coffee, breakfast, lunch, and meeting passionate folk building products – all brought to you by our wonderful sponsors. More details on them and our keynotes to come! If you haven’t already RSVP to join us for a fabulous day on the 4th of October!