Around 1,500 product people came together on June 13th at the San Francisco Symphony Hall to hear 10 amazing talks about the latest insights into product management. Jennifer Kenney, Julie Yontrarak and I attended the one-day conference and enjoyed listening to them all.
One of my favorites was from Dave Wascha on 20 years of product management in 25 minutes, “What to tell little baby, Dave.” His key points were:
- Listen to customers
- Don’t listen to customers
- Watch competition
- Don’t watch competition
- Get paid
- Stop worrying about getting paid
- Say no
- Don’t say no
That’s a little confusing, right? Well not really. For example, listening to customers, this is not a new concept but always a good reminder. We should be listening to customers on how they use our product and what are their pain points. We should not be listening to customers on how to solve the problems. We should come up with the ideas and pitch them back to the customers and go through iterations.
One of the most entertaining points was on the topic of stop worrying about getting paid. A fun example was from a company called PagerDuty. When servers go down in the middle of the night, instead of getting a generic message, PagerDuty delivers the bad news with pizzazz: they sampled a message with singers in the crowd singing a cappella, “The server’s on fire…” They are not paid for this extra touch, but it does take a bit off the edge.
I had a couple of favorite speakers: Aparna Chennapragada, Product Director at Google, and Nate Walkingshaw, CXO at Pluralsight. What I really loved about "Mind the Product" was that it triggered some ideas on how to showcase HRAs, helping users become more familiar with the product and demonstrating what HRAs can be used for.
Aparna was the first speaker of the day and she focused on:
- What users are not being reached
- What can your product do and not do
- What is the goal of your product
Being in HRA (Human Resource Authorization) land, it sometimes feels like I’m in the trenches, not looking at the big picture. Her presentation brought me back out, allowing me to envision the big picture while listening to all the incredible speakers.
Nate was a high-energy speaker who described what he called the “Voice of the Customer.” He encouraged us to watch users use our product and ask the following questions: What works? What could be better? What doesn’t work? What is missing? I’d love to undertake a project like this with HRAs. It would help to make our product better for end users and stand out from the competition.
I enjoyed the talk by Caitlin Kalinowski, Head of Product Design Engineering at Oculus. As a developer, I connected with the following points:
- Choose your top priorities and only focus on those
- Solve the most difficult issues first
- Build ugly prototypes with many iterations – the fluff and polish can be added last
This was a great event and we appreciated the opportunity to “Escape” our bubble to learn some of the latest trends in product management and development.