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Mind the Product APAC – What We Learned "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 3 April 2020 True AsiaPac, Conference, digital event, Learning, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 2429 Product Management 9.716
· 12 minute read

Mind the Product APAC – What We Learned

Our week-long event – Mind the Product APAC has come to an end and what a week it’s been! Our product family is feeling bigger and better than ever before but just because the event is over, does not mean the celebration has to end too.

Our mission was to celebrate the incredible work, products and product people in AsiaPac, and to connect the many pockets of product communities, big and small, across the region.

Did we achieve that? We’ll let you decide!

What we do know is that 2000 people from 67 countries signed up for live talks from our line-up of awesome speakers and to tap into our exclusive AsiaPac content.

Our awesome attendees joined us from Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Australia and beyond!

Mind the Product Co-Founder Martin Eriksson says: “We set out to celebrate the product community across AsiaPac and to show them, and the world, that not all great things come out of Silicon Valley. I think we did just that – and the number of people dialling in from outside the region proves just how much we all have to learn from each other.”

We Enjoyed a Week of Awesome Talks

Every day you gathered in your hundreds (and in your many time zones!) to take your virtual seat in our virtual conference hall, and to hear product leaders from across the globe give talks. Here’s a quick look at what we learned.

Hacking Confidence

Kicking off the week, Janice Fraser, Partner at Seneca VC, introduced her talk by admitting that despite being a serial entrepreneur and having done many bold and exciting things in her career (training US Navy Seals for one!), she still experiences the odd knock to her confidence.

“Even when I was preparing to give this talk two hours ago, I was nervous,” she said. “My heart was beating fast, I was kind of sweaty and having to take big breaths because I knew there would be hundreds of people watching, and I’ve never done a big keynote address remotely before.”

Confidence, she explained, is something that ebbs and flows. Some days, you have more, others less but, she said, “everyone deserves to have confidence at work”.

She used her talk to cover what confidence really is, why it ebbs and flows, and gave examples of people who’ve discovered ways to take control of theirs. Who knew Beyonce would make it into a product talk!? But make it in she did as Janice held her up of an example of someone who uses a technique to conquer her nerves and confidence (that being her alter ego Sasha Fierce!).

Janice Fraser
Janice Fraser got us thinking about confidence

She also provided a few confidence hacks for us to try whenever we need a boost. From choosing the seat that gives us the greatest feeling of power in a meeting to breathing exercises and how to imbue everyday items with feelings of confidence.

“You can imbue any token with a feeling of power,” she said. “It could be a favourite pin or a necklace, for me, it’s a Sharpie. Every time I touch my pen, I know hey, I’m pretty good at this.”

Product Management in the Time of Corona

On Tuesday, Dian Rosanti, SVP Product at Gojek, hit the nail on the head with her talk on coping during the COVID-19 lockdown. From re-evaluating objectives and how to stay effective, to staying organised and practising gratitude, Dian left the audience feeling ready to take on the world. In fact, it would be fair to say she blew us away with some of the simple, yet amazing, things she’s doing to cope – starting with some intense calendar management!

“The calendar is really sacred,” she said as she shared a visual of hers – a patchwork of blocked out time for work, lunch breaks, date nights and even allotted time to showering.

Dian Rosanti
Dian Rosanti inspired us to try new ways of managing our time

“Only a few of us have been doing this at this level of rigour because we’ve had to. We’re in California when everybody else is Indonesia, India and Singapore, but now that we’re all distributed we’re encouraging everybody to practice saying, ‘hey, if you need to be at lunch that’s okay’ and ‘if you need to deal with your kids in the afternoon, that’s family time and that’s okay too'”. The team is encouraged to use their calendar in this way so that everyone else knows not to schedule anything in that time.

“These are extraordinary times,’ she said. “You’re balancing everything at home, with your work and your family. It’s very helpful to set really clear expectations with everybody who’s working with you.z

Building Better Products by Understanding Values

Midway through the week, Jennifer Choi, Head of Product Strategy at Grab explained what she and her team do to better understand their customers whose lives can be very different to their own.

“Part of it is being able to live and breathe the experience of your customers and uncovering the values that are important to them,” she said. One of the ways they go about this is via product immersion and Jennifer shared an example of a 15-hour immersion with one of their Grab delivery drivers.

Jennifer Choi
Jennifer Choi made us question how much we really understand about our customers

“We sat on the back of bikes and followed our driver from 4am in the morning,” she said. “Just experiencing where he’s living, his work, his housing conditions, how many people are in his family – you just start to understand more about his background and where he’s coming from.”

Her main takeaways? To find ways to better understand your customer’s values over preferences, to know your value and allow this to help you overcome impostor syndrome, and to create more value than you take.

Engaging with Remote Customers in Discovery

On Thursday, Audrey Cheng, VP Product at Pushpay discussed the challenges of remote discovery, revealing how the feeling of scarcity that comes with a lack of access to customers, is actually a driving force behind better engagements that yield more value.

“The feeling that your customers are inaccessible to you makes you very intentional about the way you go about interacting with your customers,” she said.

Audrey Cheng
Audrey Cheng shared her tips on remote discovery

“It’s that feeling that your time together is so precious that you actually focus on how you can get the best results out of it. It’s taught me about sharpening our practice so that we can get the best insights from our customers.”

She described how challenges of remote discovery are also not caused by distance but rather the practice itself and explained the adaptations they’ve made to help them make the most of the engagements they can have.

“All of our product managers and designers engage with customers,” she said. “We work collaboratively. We’re still working on our process of working together, but we work collaboratively. It’s a team sport.”

Unlearn – How to let go of past success to achieve extraordinary results

Barry O’Reilly, author of Unlearn & Lean Enterprise, began by addressing the disruption we’re all facing today. A unique type of disruption that most people will never have experienced before. A disruption that’s impacting the way we work and whether the businesses we work for will survive.

Through his work with people in business all over the world, he’s discovered that it’s actually not the businesses that get disrupted but rather the individuals. “We get trapped, holding on to the behaviours that we believe made us successful in the past and hope that they will make us successful in the future,” he said.

The way to get through it, he told us, relies upon letting go of existing mindsets and about how we think control needs to operate within organisations – unlearning what we think we know and adapting our behaviour as the market changes.

And there are some good examples of people and companies doing just that. “Many countries are facing a lot of challenges now with the Coronavirus,” he said, “and some of them have actually learned from previous lessons of SARS and MERS.”

barry O'reilly on Mind the Product APAC
Barry O’Reilly urged us to let go of past success and look to the future

During this pandemic, the containment strategy of many of those countries has been responsive. They’ve already learned from their experience while, in many other regions of the world, “we’re still struggling to catch up,” he said.

He shared examples of those people and companies, questioned ‘what could we achieve if we all did this too?’, and gave us some simple tips to get started on our journey to Unlearning. He said:

  • Take some action – small steps every day
  • Get your team together and get aligned on your gameplan
  • Journal – make note of the steps you’re taking to see what works and doesn’t

“You’ve not got one shot, you’ve got many,” he said. “Just capture what worked, remember what didn’t, and, you know, feed it forward to the next spin. You never know where you might end up.”

We Launched Online Training!

It was a week of many firsts for us – our first digital event, our first week of 4.30am starts, and the launch of our first online training course, Essential Product Skills.

“Getting our modules into a digital format was always something we wanted to do,” explains Mind the Product’s Rosemary King. “I was really happy to have a great opportunity to see how the materials that we have spent three years creating and testing worked in a digital setting.”

Launching our online training has been an exciting process

During the design process, the most important thing was figuring out how we could help and engage directly with people and their questions. To do this, we ran live Q&A sessions with our trainers, Emily Tate, Eli Montgomery and Rosemary each day.

“The hard thing about product skills is that they look pretty easy on paper, but they get really complicated when applied,” says Rosemary. “It was important to us to make sure that we created the space for questions the same way we do for our in-person trainings.”

Despite the early starts (we hope we didn’t look too weary!) each and every one of us got a huge buzz seeing so many people join the conversation, bring great questions, and share their experiences.

“The participants really embodied what our community means to us – really excited, engaged folks who are trying to get better at product craft. Seeing happy product people like Marius, Sireen, and Guido to name just a few, really meant the world to us.”

Our Content put the Spotlight on AsiaPac

We also made it our mission to focus all of this week’s Mind the Product blog content on product in AsiaPac.

And, prior to the event, we spent months exploring the product scene through the eyes and stories of people living and working in the region.

From Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Colombo to Wellington, Brisbane, Bangkok and the Philippines – we’ve been on quite the information gathering trip!

Product strategist Bernard Hosanna describes his inspiring career journey from finance to consumer products at Grab while two recruitment experts helped us to better understand the state of hiring product talent in AsiaPac.

We also aired a special episode of our podcast, The Product Experience, with guests Adrienne Tan (CEO and co-founder of Brianmates in Sydney) and Colin Pal (Chief Product Officer, Caterspot in Kuala Lumpur). With our hosts, Randy and Lily, they shared their take on product in AsiaPac – a unique perspective for a pair of product pros with more than 25 years of experience between them.

Finally, we topped off the week nicely with advice on leveling up product culture in your region and a selection of stories from the APAC ProductTank community which left us all feeling pretty inspired here at MTP HQ.

ProductTank Colombo
We were introduced to the ProductTank Colombo team!

If you missed any of it, feel free to take another look. Here’s the complete list:

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Our heartfelt thanks go out to our APAC sponsors, Amplitude, Auth0, ProdPad, Miro and Sendbird, who were all quick to show us their support when COVID-19 forced us to cancel #mtpcon Singapore. Without them this would not have been possible and, throughout this process, they helped us to create a unique experience for our attendees. With their ‘digital booths’, attendees could access a whole host of offers and resources, created especially for our event.

“We were so thrilled with this unique chance to put up a digital ‘booth’ at the Mind the Product AsiaPAC event,” says Matt Payne, Marketing Manager at ProdPad. “We loved that it stretched out over a whole week with a wide range of topics, and really enjoyed the interactive elements of the presentations themselves. We look forward to being involved with #mtpcon again in the future, digital or otherwise!”

If you’ve not yet had a chance to check out our sponsors, simply click their links below to do it now.

  Miro  sendbird

We might not have been our usual Cyan Army selves in person for this but we were in spirit!

Thank You For Celebrating AsiaPac with us

Finally, if you’ve joined us this week, we hope you’ve been able to soak up lots of insights, advice and new connections, plus a good dollop of inspiration along the way. We’ve loved every minute and simply could not have done it without you – thank you for supporting us and this brand new event, and remember to stay connected.

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