Day one of #mtpcon Digital got off to a flying start today with two incredible keynotes, a selection of awesome breakout sessions, fast-paced networking, a cocktail masterclass, yoga and more!
Here’s what went down.
First things first, like good product people we needed coffee (water, tea and other beverages were, of course, allowed!) and thankfully, Martin Eriksson was ready to help with his coffee nerdery session that began when our digital doors opened! This networking session gave people the chance to say hello, make connections and warm-up ahead of the day.
Coffee sorted and the day could begin – first with a keynote from Matt LeMay.
By exposing the fundamental tension product people face when seeking individual recognition, Matt LeMay showed us how adopting the Incomplete By Design framework and constraining ourselves to “One Page One Hour”, can transform our organisation’s approach to comments and conversation.
Our second keynote of the day came from Christian Idiodi, who compared working in product to being in a soap opera, where, he said: “the drama never ends!”
Christian’s talk, titled: Every Problem is a People Problem…covered how really, people problems are leadership problems. He explained how managers and leaders need to be better: providing strategic context, encouraging discovery and nurturing a culture of trust and collaboration, as people are the solution.
Between the keynotes, attendees joined our breakout speakers for a selection of interactive sessions.
Lean Product Development
Jeff Gothelf took us on a whirlwind tour through the top questions #mtpcon attendees had about lean product development. He covered Impact Mapping, the challenges of maintaining coherent product vision and direction, aligning teams and protecting against scope creep, and how to work with executives and stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned on impact.
“You will find yourself in a situation where your organisation is doing something that is clearly a business need and not a customer need,” he said. “Organisations are surprised when customers don’t want to do these things, but fundamentally it’s because those are activities that give the customers no value.”
Using OKRs to Set Realistic Goals
Ahead of his hotly anticipated workshop OKRs for Product Teams, Bruce McCarthy gave attendees a high-level overview of how OKRs should be used to set realistic goals that bring alignment to your organisation. Bruce spent 30 minutes fielding a broad range of questions from attendees about how to avoid common pitfalls, what makes a good OKR and how they differ from KPIs.
“OKRs are time-bound and temporary,” he said. “Once you’ve achieved them you retire them. If you aren’t making any progress on your OKRs, you might be focusing on the wrong thing.”
Bridging the Gap Between Physical and Digital
Product Leader Alicia Dixon ran a fascinating discussion about bridging the gap between physical and digital – a topic triggered by her experience of working on an app that allowed people to use their phone as a hotel room key. “In doing that, we faced a lot of problems that you just don’t think of when you’re dealing with just software,” she said.
Alicia explained that, as a result of this work, she began noticing more and more issues in how you connect digital and physical together. “As digital becomes more and more accepted, there are definitely a lot more people who are product managers, dealing with this.”
In this session, the group discussed their thoughts referring to examples including Tesla, Amazon Go and iPads, whiteboards and even Post Its. They also discussed their own experiences of the challenge.
Roadmapping is Hard
It’s no secret, roadmaps are hard but thankfully, C Todd Lombardo was on hand to talk about the multitude of forms that roadmaps can take – what should be included, what should not be put in the sin bin and how this changes depending on who’s looking at your roadmap? He also tackled the question, ‘do I even need a roadmap?’.
“You don’t need fancy tools,” he said, “this can be done in Trello, in Google sheets, in PowerPoint…”. It is, however, not easy to do. “I started at a company and it took me six months just to gather all the inputs before I could start building the roadmap,” he revealed. “This sounds easy on paper, but it can be really challenging.”
Prioritisation for Impact
Gabrielle Bufrem explained a clear approach – and a framework – to help attendees prioritise for impact. Her advice? Dig deep into your business needs, and what you know about your customer, and make sure your customers’ needs match business outcomes.
“Impact is creating products that customers love that work for your business objective,” she said. “Impact threads this line between what the customer needs and what the business needs.”
Gabrielle walked us through some key questions we should be asking ourselves, and a structure to help us reflect on our objectives, goals and ideas. She weaved a path through thinking about organisational goals, reflecting on what we understand about our customers and their needs, and using those key touchstones to ensure we’re focusing on the ideas and activities that will lead to high-impact outcomes.
Adam Thomas walked his group through the ‘Initiative Document’ – a simple document made up of five parts:
This document, he told us, is a simple tool you can use to help you carefully consider your customer, the disciplines who make and sell your product, and the executive teams who give you the resources to do it. As a product person, it’s vital to keep all of the involved parties in the loop and this document, he told us, can help you do that. But, he explained, it needs input from more people than just you.
“The initiative document is very alive, unfinished document – when you start it, you should be handing it off to different folks, in different teams, and getting their feedback as much as possible.”
Famed for our afterparties we certainly couldn’t have an #mtpcon without one – digital or not! Sure this one was a little different – it was BYOB for a start and the venue is easier to find than usual but our aim, as it was during the day, was to keep the conversation going, connect with your product peers, and have some fun!
…and Martin shared his secret to the Cyan Margarita in a cocktail masterclass!
And, as I write this, I’m missing out on all the fun and so I’ll leave you with those highlights and get back to the afterparty.
Thank you to everyone who joined us today and to our wonderful crew and sponsors for all of their support.
More to come tomorrow! Find out what at mindtheproduct.com/digital