Product people descended upon central London this morning for a series of Mind the Product training workshops, kicking off #mtpcon ahead of tomorrow’s conference.
More than 400 conference attendees were up bright and early to join one of 14 workshops covering a range of topics from user research and stakeholder management to product roadmapping and OKRs for product teams.
From the 14 workshops there was plenty to take away. Here’s a very quick snapshot of three of them, led by Julia Whitney, Joe Leech, and Frank Qiu.
Leadership coach Julia Whitney offered practical advice and tools to help with a challenge faced by most, if not all, product managers – stakeholder management.
Engaging the group from the outset, Julia asked attendees to think about who, in their organisations, they’d consider to be stakeholders. She then asked how, on a scale of 1-10, they would rate stakeholder management within their organisation.
The majority of the group scored their organisations between 5 and 6. They identified recurring challenges to be such things as top-down micro management, communication with stakeholders from different countries and cultures, and lack of control.
This last challenge struck a chord with a number of people. Julia explained: “Not having control is an issue shared by most product managers. It’s an issue because we’re so interdependent on our teams and stakeholders. It can be very frustrating.”
The workshop also involved group work and self reflection to equip attendees with the practical tools needed to address their challenges, and to turn their relationships with stakeholders into productive and rewarding parts of their role.
Jobs to be Done
Drawing on his experience at organisations like MoneySuperMarket, eBay, Disney, Marriott, and many startups, Joe Leech’s workshop offered a practical, hands-on way to understand how to make the right product choices based on user needs.
He did this using Jobs to be Done – a framework, as Joe describes it, “containing the processes and tools to understand user needs and plan innovative products and product features to meet those user needs”.
In order to help them to go on to design the right things in the right order, and for the right reasons, Joe asked workshop attendees to think about the emotional, social, and functional elements of their products and why they should care about them.
Using examples, including MoMA, No More Nails and even smoking, Joe quickly helped the group to answer this question and explained how and why they should be running user research to uncover the Jobs to be Done for their products.
Each attendee left the workshop able to:
- Uncover the Jobs to be Done, map them to their product and understand where there is unmet user need
- Advocate and evidence product changes across the organisation, from C-level executives to marketing
- Design the right thing in the right order for the right reasons
- Put Jobs to be Done into practice
OKRs for Product Teams
One door down, Frank Qiu, explained how to implement and use OKRs in a product team effectively, as it’s done in the very best-performing product cultures.
He began by explaining how to define effective OKRs, set them annually and how to break them down quarterly.
With those foundations set, the group was split into six and challenged to set three objectives for a specific example. Each team’s objectives were then presented, discussed, and challenged.
This quickly demonstrated that objective setting is purely the start of the process. With discussion, objectives can be refined and strengthened.
“Setting objectives is not something you can do in five minutes,” Frank explained. “You will need to make adjustments, to redefine and recalibrate, and you want your objectives the objectives you set to be aggressive but realistic.”
The work led to questions such as:
- What if we can’t measure the most important things?
- What if we miss our targets?
- What if our outputs don’t generate the outcomes we wanted?
- Can we adapt our OKRs?
By creating and developing OKRs throughout a simulated year-in-the-life of a product team, attendees learned how to handle things that go wrong, how to adjust course, and how to manage expectations.
What if you Weren’t There?
If you missed today’s #mtpcon workshops, fear not! Through Mind the Product Training you can access the insight of expert product managers (our trainers) through in-depth, interactive training workshops. We offer worldwide training, with public workshops for out-of-the-box topics, and our in-house training provides the opportunity to develop a curriculum to meet your specific needs.
For more updates, follow all of the conference action on Twitter using #mtpcon.