Today at #mtpcon Digital Americas we learned a lot. Certainly too much to squeeze into this little post. But, as sharing is caring, we’ve plucked a few nuggets of wisdom to share with you as day one of our latest product conference comes to a close.
1. A lack of EQ is bad news
In our opening keynote, Nikkia Reveillac, Former Head of Research, Twitter, explained the importance of EQ. Yes, she said, teams lacking in EQ can still function, even be extremely successful but, she said, that is not always the case. “When you have too many exceptional superstars on the team, who all lack emotional intelligence, or have no emotional intelligence, or perhaps one person has it and everybody else doesn’t, the negative downstream effects that could possibly impact product development and the process of product development are myriad.” You can expect to experience; a lack of trust amongst colleagues, poor communication across the team, low performance and, ultimately, a negative impact on productivity and profitability.
2. Before you scale your team, set up some scaffolding
Whether a team is going from zero to one, two to 10 or 50 to 100, Claire Vo, CPO at Color, explained that it can be disorienting when teams start to multiply and product lines scale. So, before you start the scaling process she said, you need to set up some ‘scaffolding’. “When you’re preparing or in the process of growing your product organisation significantly, the most important thing you can do is create structure and build supporting frameworks.”
Begin, she said, by designing from first principles and only then decide when and how you can move people into specific roles. Teams must be empowered, tightly aligned, and you should keep hierarchy to a minimum — hierarchy is, of course, important, said Claire, “it sets realistic expectations about what you need to hire, provides a map to use for future opportunities, and communicates the strategy of the company and the strategy of the product.” Only when you have your scaffolding in place, hit the gas and push that scaling process forward.
3. Product managers are collaborative, coffee drinking, bingo playing, early birds!
Throughout the day we ran a series of fun activities and polls to learn a little more about our audience. Here’s what we discovered about the crowd at #mtpcon Digital Americas.
Our polls revealed that product managers:
- Can’t survive without coffee
- Are early birds
- Typically work with 3-4 other teams
- Agree that the collective noun for a group of product managers is ‘A backlog’
Our sponsors also ensured attendees had fun with activities like Experimentation Bingo from Split!
4. Becoming a creator opens doors
If you’re interested in becoming a ‘creator’ in the product world, Peter Yang has plenty of tips and explained that, as a creator, there are benefits to be had, namely “love, fame, and money”… if that’s what you’re into. But, he said, you have to put the work in. After all, product managers are busy people — how do you find the time to create content? “Usually it takes a good six months of publishing into the void before you actually get some traction growing your audience. So you have to be patient, and you have to be persistent, and disciplined in putting content out there.” Peter’s top tips are to find a niche, publish frequently, and have fun. Do those things consistently, he said, and “you’ll be surprised at the kind of opportunities that will come up and what will happen to your career.”
5. If you don’t understand what’s expected of you, you’re going to struggle
In his session, ‘Why you may be struggling as a product leader’, Gijo Mathew, CPO at VTS, explained how imperative it is to define where you are with your product and what success looks like.“To succeed, know what you are walking into and for how long. It’s a source of struggle for many product leaders,” he said. Identifying what’s expected of you will save product managers stress and time and self awareness is key, otherwise, you’ll get frustrated as a product leader, he reiterates.
6. Create effective cross-functional teams through digital experience
In a breakout session sponsored by Fullstory, Agata Bugaj, Fullstory’s VP product took us through the power of digital experience intelligence in building effective teams in organisations. As product managers, we get pulled in all sorts of different directions and so Agata walked us through Fullstory’s digital experience software which can help to align product teams, create monthly roadmaps, and work effectively in a cross-functional manner. One of the most important functions is that everyone can have access to the tool. The quantitative and qualitative data created through user stories creates an opportunity for all teams to be informed while simultaneously reacting to this information with business actions. Doing so helps the team to work in sync and efficiently going forward.
7. Reach impossible outcomes through a visionary product culture
In the closing keynote to wrap up day one at #mtpcon Digital Americas, Bruce McCarthy, founder of Product Culture and president of the Boston Product Management Association talked about creating impossible outcomes in product. “It’s about a product-orientated culture. It starts with throwing away conventional thinking and rigid expectations,” he said. If you have the right underlining culture, you can succeed in making the impossible possible. Building the right culture requires three key ingredients; encourage a common compelling vision throughout your organisation, create a ladder of opportunities and targets for teams to reach that goal, and build teams dedicated to reaching that vision, cross-functionally dedicated to accomplishing that mission.
Stay tuned for more
Thank you to everyone who joined us for day one and to our wonderful crew and sponsors for all of their support. More to come tomorrow! Find out what at mindtheproduct.com/digital/americas and, if you’re a Mind the Product member, you’ll be able to access all of the incredible keynote talk and session videos this coming Friday (16th July) on your membership dashboard.
Not yet a member? Join today! Got membership with your #mtpcon Digital ticket? Activate your account today — instructions on how to access your new membership (if included with your event ticket) can be found in any email you receive about the event.