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


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!

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:, 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!)

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 if you have any questions or need any support.

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.