Keynote: Organisational agility + product alignment to drive innovation – Craig Rees

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Craig Rees has been in digital product management since early 2000. Working across retail, media, technology and financial services sectors in both Europe and Asia. Originally from the UK but now based in Australia he has been involved with organisations such as BBC, Sensis, Atlassian, SKY, Vodafone and BCG Digital Ventures (A division of the Boston Consulting Group) where he has built up and led teams that have been at the forefront of modern product development and innovation practices including agile, lean and design thinking.

His belief is that organisational agility will be the difference between the companies that succeed and those that don’t. His driving passion is that there has to be a better way, to bring new products to market, to build software platforms and to innovate beyond the constraints of your organisation whoever they may be or what they may do.

Craig has recently taken on the role of Chief Product Officer at Unlockd a startup in the adtech space based in Melbourne, New York and London.

Call for speakers

We are making the call for speakers – we have been asking for topics here and a summary of those posted so far are listed here.

We will be running a speaker workshop on the 20th of July to share more info about what ProductCamp is all about, give you insight and tips about our audience and provide some prep tips and tools for presenting and facilitating.

Our fellow ProductCamp organiser Adrienne Tan from Brainmates will take you through the session. Adrienne is the co-founder of Brainmates, a Product Management training and consulting practice. She has been spruiking Product Management since 2004. Finally, companies have heard her message and are now realising that Product Management is a vital function in any healthy business. In her spare time, she keeps a number of loyal clients happy by helping them develop robust Product Management processes, solid product strategies and usable roadmaps. Her favourite project has been working on the Gov.au alpha prototoype and making a video (with help from a video dude) for Malcolm Turnbull.

RSVP here.

Thanks to Level3 and Stax for hosting.


stax-logo-sponsorStax shines a light on everything enterprises need to know to be confident in cloud by taking out the guesswork and providing visibility, automated risk assessments, compliance and maturity, and recommendations for achieving best practice.

 

Level 3 LogoLevel 3 is all about bringing the creativity back to technology, by generating conversation within the tech community and facilitating introductions between start-ups and enterprises. At Level 3, ideas come to life.

Keynote: Influencing with Stories – Shawn Callahan

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We’re excited to announce Shawn Callahan as a Product Camp keynote this August!

Shawn will talk about how to build your ability to share stories to influence your stakeholders. This will be a practical session where you will learn some new skills to find and tell effective oral stories.

Shawn Callahan is the author of Putting Stories to Work and founder of Anecdote, a global company that helps leaders with influencing and inspiring action with oral stories.

He helps leaders find and tell the story of their strategy, change, their company & values – and also the story of their product or service.

Anecdote works with companies such as Mars, Danone, Allianz, SAP, Tesco and Shell and delivers training for leaders in 20 countries and in 6 languages. Shawn has been working with organisational stories for close on 20 years and is regarded as a world leader in his field.

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If you want to do some reading before Product Camp, grab Shawn’s book here.

Camp Wrap-up: Transformation is just scaled up product management

We started the day with a keynote from Megan Fisher from Sensis talking about her move from product management to corporate transformation.

Megan wasn’t sure this role was for her when she was approached about it. She was product, not transformation! It’s only after she started getting into it that she realised transformation is just a big scale product management role.

Megan FisherMegan kicking off..

  • Develop your Principles
  • Sponsorship & Ownership
  • Test & Learn
  • Create the right decision making framework
  • Do Showcases

Develop your Principles

Megan presented the principles they have been using in their transformation project. These need to be appropriate to your business so develop your own list for your transformation or product management area. These agreed principles will help not only yourself guide what should end up on your roadmap or backlog, but will assist others in knowing what to focus on when you aren’t able to be in every discussion. In their case, along with test & learn, easy upgrade path, success milestones, and DIY focus, being able to simplify the product, process and technology were key.

Sponsorship & Ownership

Have a sponsor that suits the change. You need someone who’s advocating the change. As a product manager you are always a change advocate, but you need support beyond just yourself. Your line manager might not be the right person for doing this. Make sure your stakeholders are involved early and involved in creating the requirements. They should also have accountability.

Test and Learn

While you should take the time to try to get it right – be aware that won’t always be the case – especially the first time. Building a test & learn approach from the beginning is a great way to approach this. Having a user group (internal or external) so you can talk with users is recommended. This might seem obvious when using agile practices in the product development world, however we often forget to plan time to go back and apply the learnings! If every iteration, next release plan is booked up before you’ve gotten feedback from the previous release then you aren’t really using a test and learn approach.

Enjoy the transformation. Don’t run away because as a product person, this is where you really get to learn

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Decision Making

Understand when your company is comfortable with making decisions – including how much analysis is needed and how much discussion is required. Understanding how to make better decisions is also something to consider and that can include who needs to be involved as well as how to get the information out there that a decision has been made (Yammer? Forums?).

Showcases

Showcases are great for many reasons – they show what you already delivered, they create buy-in & engagement and help everyone be transparent with both mistakes and success. Showcases can also help people get accustomed to change. Megan found this was a great way of getting involvement. Their showcases involved up to 100 people for 3-5 hours. They would start in a big group & then have smaller break out sessions. Remember – we product people can see the future for our product but not everyone can. Some of our audience isn’t used to looking into the future so showcases can help them begin to see & make adjustments. In Megan’s case the showcase would start with an intro to the whole forum & then breakout into small groups. The key strategy in creating engagement was to get the business owner stream leads and the future users of the new functionality to do the talking. Not just the “product” people. These smaller sessions were no more than 30m for each topic demo and no more than 20 people in the group so that people could see and felt able to ask questions.

 

Q&A

Division btwn decision makers and those providing info. Comittee decision never good. Understand the escalation path.

Product Mgr or Product Owner, Service design thinking & #prodmgmt newbies

Another afternoon session included:

  • Product Manager or Product Owner – Nick Coster
  • Using Service Design Thinking to make Awesome Products – Lisa Overton
  • Panel discussion on Getting into Product Management – facilitated by Liz Blink

Product Manager or Product Owner

This old nugget! It’s amazing how many times this has been a topic of conversation at camp! Yes, a product manager should be different to a product owner – both the responsibilities and the person performing the role. Nick talks through it all…

Video footage coming…

 

Using Service Design Thinking to make Awesome Products

Lisa Overton talked about service design (& even worked in a cat photo!).

She shared some resources in case you want to learn more – check the last slide in the deck.

Getting into Product Management

We had a couple ‘newbie’ product management topics so we combined them together and got a group of experienced PM’s in a room to share their insights with those keen to know more about the role.

The story is so familiar – those in product management have fallen into it from all sorts of directions, backgrounds or experience. That can be great – because it means anyone has a chance to get started in product mgmt. On the other hand – that can make it hard to know how to pitch yourself to the role.

We talked about attitude being a big part of being a great product manager so looking for ways to show that on your CV can be tricky. However don’t be afraid to call out examples that show you have the balls to do the job and get the attention of the hiring manager. Especially when you need to cut through the domain knowledge bias.

Ask someone to read your CV and help you draw out relevant experiences to impress those you are asking to hire you. Once you can get into the interview stage you will have a good chance to further show your can do attitude and capability, but the words on the paper need to help get you that opportunity. Probably true advice in any industry but the broad range of skills needed in product management makes this part of the job hunt especially challenging.

JTBD, Customer feedback & (bad) business cases

Our 3 afternoon sessions included:

  • Advanced JTBD (jobs to be done): Focus your Product Innovation Effort
  • Using Customer Feedback as a source of Innovation
  • STOP writing bad business cases!

Advanced JTBD (jobs to be done): Focus your Product Innovation Effort

Product Camp Melbourne 2015Russell Kallman had 2 groups explore what they wanted to get out of coming to product camp by using the JTBD methodology. (Thanks for the research Russell!!!) Go read Russell’s summary of the session and JTBD on Medium. IMG_0212JBTD

Using Customer Feedback as a source of Innovation

Ben Motterum explored different ways you can get feedback from your customer in order to make your products better. Ben had six areas he covered that can be a great source of inspiration for ideas directly from your customers. A number of people in the room had used one or two of these approaches but not all of them, with the exception of Xero and Sportsbet who were excellent champions of working closely with their customers. Good discussion followed as those who hadn’t tapped into all of these options asked for advice on how to get started from those who were successfully employing these techniques.

 

STOP writing bad business cases!

Nick Coster talked about what the value a business case can have – helping to make a decision, understanding the risks, prioritising – but pointed out they often aren’t read. He gave tips on how to write a bad business case (ie… stop doing this!!) & tips for doing a good business case including using a business canvas. Slides below.

Camp Wrap-up: Product Management Finance (& a Tardis)

Amanda Ralph, Head of Product at Kinetic Super, gave our 2nd keynote of the day – If only I’d had a tardis: Why you shouldn’t rely on time travel to manage your product financials

Amanda said product managers need to be comfortable with finance and in her product roles, she has always owned the P&L or was directly responsible for the numbers trending the right way.

The core role of the product manager is to create value for both the customer and the business – including financial value. In order to do this, you need to predict and measure. Being the voice of the customer is not enough.

Understanding your product’s financials will help you identify value as well as threats and problems. You’ll be able to see what you need to fix and which good things you can possibly push harder.

There are many things you can measure:  

  • Revenue
  • Costs – like costs to acquire, serve, retain
  • Market share
  • Channel Effectiveness
  • See Amanda’s slides below for more

Metrics

Amanda also talked about metrics. When defining your metrics, make sure they are:

  • Measurable
  • Align to your product & business objectives
  • Actionable

Always ask yourself – what is the business driver for that metric? Amanda expects her team to know where their product is according to 5 metrics.

The communication of metrics is also important. You can create a snapshot dashboard with the ability to drill down and use traffic light colors to indicate status. How frequently you communicate depends on what makes sense for your product. Later during Q&A, someone asked whether one metric (i.e. the ‘lean’ one metric to focus on) could suffice. Amanda does not believe 1 metric gives you what you need.

Value Driver Trees

Amanda recommends using value driver trees.

She said they’re really difficult to do but the great thing is they really make you think about the value you should focus on. Amanda recommended this this Slideshare from Chris Doran to learn more.

Product Camp Melbourne 2015

We want to thank Amanda for the great talk and for spending part of her birthday with us!

Announcing our first keynote speaker for Product Camp Melbourne

Brainmates We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker Megan Fisher – Director: Sensis Digital Foundation will talk about Transforming with product management. For the past two years, Megan has been leading a large transformation program at Sensis. To Megan’s surprise, she found product management tools, skills and experience have been super relevant in managing the corporate transformation.

Running the transformation like a scaled up product development program, Megan will talk about the transformation, how they use key product management skills and knowledge plus how they use product management tools.

Megan has been in the world of product management for the last 20 years with experience in portfolio management, pricing, bundling, product development, UX and much more.

Themes for Product Camp Melbourne

Have a question you’d like to discuss with other product managers and product people? A topic you’d like to tell others about?

If you’d like to present, lead a topic or roundtable discussion, or would love someone to talk about X (but *you* don’t want to talk about it… here is your chance to tell us and vote on what you’d like to hear at Uservoice!

Talks at Product Camp Melbourne 2015 will follow 3 topic streams. The ideas below are just that – ideas & potential talks. If one catches your eye, offer to lead the session. Or use these to help brainstorm what you want to talk about!

Each talk will be ~40 minutes long and should include time for questions. Interactive sessions are always well received. Slides are not required (though screens available if you want).

Theme 1 – Customer Research Talk Ideas

  • Understanding our customers is at the core of product management.
  • What are the best ways to reach customers?
  • How do you communicate your research to stakeholders & team members?
  • A/B testing tips, tricks, hits & misses
  • How can you translate research into user stories & features?
  • Tips for interviewing customers
  • Matching your hypothesis with a great way to test it

Theme 2 – Finance Talk Ideas

  • Often we don’t have the deep details of our product’s financials but as the product person, we should understand even if the responsibility falls to others.
  • How to read a P&L
  • What is missing in your budget & could bite you later?
  • Profit Driver Trees in action
  • The psychology of pricing
  • How to understand your product’s financials when no one is sharing numbers

Theme 3 – Product Management 101 Talk Ideas

  • In this jack of all trades role, there’s lots of core topics we use again & again. Which do we need to improve on or change our way of thinking?
  • Developers love hackdays! How can product love them too instead of feeling like the janitor?
  • Competitive Analysis tips
  • Can you actually get product/market fit? How?
  • Optimising products for growth
  • Are roadmaps worth the time?
  • The role of social media in product management
  • What to do when it all goes to hell!

Lightening Talks
Want to dip your toe into the water? Not sure if you have enough to discuss in 40 minutes (HA! you’ll be surprised!)?

Then suggest your topic for a 10 minute session in the lightening talks. Your 10 minutes needs to include question time. Ideas include:

  • Five things you need to know about SEO
  • The most important thing in your go-to-market plan
  • Resume tips for wanna be product managers

Once you have decided and even if you are still forming an idea get it posted on Uservoice and share with the community what you are working on. Once the votes are in you will know whether you are going to be presenting or not. Feel free to ping us info at productanonymous.com if you have any questions or need any support.

Product Camp 2013 – Wrap up

Product Camp Melbourne 2013 is done and dusted and what a fabulous day it was. While Melbourne rained itself out – those of us inside were listening to some great presentations, participating in some awesome workshops, and meeting fellow product managers across industries – and we weren’t letting that weather dampen our fun.
We kicked off the day with breakfast and coffee and an introduction to what the day was all about, we then got people out of their chairs and into the first icebreaker of the day – Product Management speed dating.
With all that noise and energy in the room we got ourselves gathered to listen to our first keynote speaker for the day, Guy Inbar: head of Mail Product Management and Innovation at Australia Post telling us about letter products.  Some fabulous insights into this tough industry were shared with us, including that the 60 cent fee for sending a letter in Australia does not even cover the costs to do that.
We then built out the day, with each presenter wishing to share a topic, letting us know what they would share with us and everyone voting on their topics of interest.  That had us run two group sessions before lunch and then plan out streams for the afternoon.
We started off with a conversation about your product management career.  Steve Bauer and Adam Fry joined up to talk through this one.  With some sharing of experiences and challenges when applying product management across different industries and businesses, to ways to take some time to think about where you want to be next it was a well-run session. It rounded up with time for those looking for their next role to put their hand up and those seeking product managers to share the opportunities they had available.
The next session on the Agile business gap was a hot topic.  Nick Coster split the group into two – those who had experience with Agile and those who did not.  Each group was asked to write down what they thought Agile was.  When comparing notes after this brainstorm, the group who had no experience seemed to sum it up better than those who had experience!  However, this was due to jargon creeping in from those with experience.  The discussion then steered towards how this methodology may not always be aligned or in sync with the product management process.  Gathering new market insight and creating a building a product back-log versus managing it once it is created.  The core summary of this conversation was that Agile is a very small part of the Product management methodology:
Methodology-wheel
Agile fits into the build phase – and there is so much more that needs to happen before you get to that stage.  There was some fun discussion about the difference between the product management role vs. the scrum product owner.  In short, with any expletives missing, they are two people and two distinct roles that should work incredibly closely together.   There is a whole three day Brainmates course to cover all this fun stuff, if a half hour discussion and a two paragraph write-up don’t whet your appetite!
So time for lunch after that rather intense discussion, consuming the fabulous food provided by Mister Close and sponsored by Telstra Wholesale and Seed Talent.  That gave us all the energy to kick-on into the afternoon and listen to our second keynote speaker Marc Galbraith from Thoughtworks on the topic “Jobs to be done”.  Marc is an excellent presenter and obviously passionate about what he has learnt on this methodology. It was certainly insightful, and while some of the tools may be similar but with different names in the product management toolkit, there was definitely something to learn about a different way to ask questions of your customers, to gain a deeper understanding of their decision making motivations.  Some additional reading on some other case studies of applying the “what did I hire this product/service to do for me” can be found here and additional resources for Jobs to be Done can be found here.
We had another fun icebreaker kicked off by Natalie Yan-Chatonsky  asking us to visually outline what product management was, as if aliens had just landed on earth, and we needed to justify not being exterminated :-).  The variety of visual interpretation of the same role was fun to see come to life, and then the chance to use that to explain to others how our pictures described our roles was a good laugh.
We kicked off into streams after this and so in rough order of each topic a little summary or snippet on each:
1. From Conception to the storeStefano Tempesta. You can find a copy of his presentation here.  This was a popular topic, highly voted on before the day, and Stefano prepared well for the session.  The majority of attendees joined this session and got a lot out of the sharing of experiences.
2. From Mortal enemies to best friends..how to get the most out of working with sales people.  This session was well  facilitated by Belinda Fry our resident Sales person of the day.  Belinda got us to call out things that create tension between product and sales, and then guided us through some options for preventing that tension from growing or continuing.  Some simple tips such as sharing the process more clearly, working on strategy together, so as to understand when tactical options may be limited.  A good lively discussion that helped us think about the situation from both sides.  Thanks Belinda.
3. Product Pricing: how to extract more value? by Alex Levashov.  The next topic was well hosted by Alex with another excellently prepared presentation.  Always a great subject to dive into and Alex had some case studies to support his approach, which is really helpful as one takes theory and applies in practice.
4. Product and Project management or otherwise known as “the how many different hats do you wear in your Product mgmt role to help get the job done” topic?  Nick Coster from Brainmates kindly stepped up to facilitate this session and it became a pin the tail on the donkey kind of session.  The output of the game (although a little blurry) was this:nick's session.
In other words, there is a lot of shit that needs to get done, and that is what Product managers are so good at making sure it does.  When there is a defined role in the organisation such as Project Manager, you might find you have someone to rely on to get shit done.  But sometimes you even with this support there are still tactical things you have to keep an eye one or your product won’t ship, deliver or launch.  Yet, one must spend some time with their head above water and taking some on strategy or you will end up just moving from one pile of shit to the next… and I think there is something in that for all of us.
5. Customer centre design briefly explained by Roy McBurney. Roy kindly put his hand up to run through this topical topic and present an overview of what the words mean, what it involves from a resource point of view, and why it is worth that investment in the first place.  Roy kindly takes out the award for being the first to mention Apple, which is quite impressive that we had gotten this far and not used our classic bingo word yet.
6. Why should people listen to you? This topic was posted by a PM that could not attend on the day, but really posed a good question for discussion so we gathered around to talk through what it means for a product manager to have influence, as influence is key and there are many people to influence. How do you foster your own credibility? Where does your authority come from? What should you do? What should you avoid? Liz Blink facilitated and first asked about the difference between influence and stakeholder management? And what different skills are needed to have influence?  Some great contributions from the group about the softer people skills needed to create this, the core passion that you run with as the biggest and strongest evangelist for your product, and a deep understanding of what motivates people are all areas to cultivate to build influence.
So it has been a massive day, so many topics covered, so much great insight gained, we pull everyone back together to go through the final topic of the day, brought to us by Brainmates and that is The Idea pad – a simple way to capture your idea and validate it! a very simple concept with powerful ramifications for your every day product management approach.  A great use case for it was outlined by Nick – the next time your CEO, the CTO, your boss or the customer with the biggest spend throws an idea at you that “must be done” then use this template to flesh it out and then say no! This tool helps you to validate whether the idea holds up just be answering four simple questions.  Then if you are going to say yes, you will know exactly why, as you will already know who is the target market, what problem it is solving, what benefits the customer will see if the problem is solved and whether the business would benefit when you solve the problem.  A no with all of this justification behind it will also be far more powerful.
On that great note we wrapped up the day by handing out the prizes of the day. Fabulously our sponsor Seed Talent had offered tickets to King Kong as incentive for sharing contact details.  The lucky winner of those tickets is seen here looking joyful about that cool prize. Our other awesome prize came from our super fabulous sponsor, contributor and co-organisers Brainmates who donated a ticket to their Product Management essentials class, when next in Melbourne.  A sensational give-away and I think our happy winner looks appropriately joyous.  For more photos of the day check out Brainmates facebook page here.
Thanks to Sensis, Brainmates, Product Anonymous, Seed Talent and Telstra Wholesale for their generous support of ProductCamp Melbourne
So thanks everyone for your attendance, your contributions and energy to make this such a great day.  We hope it is not another year before we see you again – so if you enjoyed Product Camp – don’t forget to join Product Anonymous at LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter to keep the conversation going. Our next meeting is Thursday August 22nd.  The topic is being confirmed so watch Twitter & our Linkedin group for more info.  RSVP here:
http://prod-anon-aug2013.eventbrite.com/