Today, after a long wait, we returned to the Barbican for day two of #mtpcon London+EMEA! From how to develop our confidence as product managers, to what we can learn from product dramas behind the UK’s pandemic pingdemic, we’re taking home some incredible learnings.
Let’s take a look at a few.
Embrace the exponential technology age
Azeem Azhar, entrepreneur, investor, and author of Exponential, kicked us off with the first keynote session of the day. Right now, he said, we’re seeing technologies advance at an exponential rate in comparison to previous ages.
As product managers, we must embrace this fast-paced technological age if we are to benefit from the rate of change in product creation and development. To do so, we must be more flexible to change, and have a shared understanding among product teams on how fast technology is advancing.
Bet big from the top or bottom
In her keynote session, Alice Newton Rex, product director at Whatsapp led a session on betting big and starting small.
One of the difficult issues with a big bet, she told us, is making the go-to-market strategy.
Sharing some bottom-up big bet tips, she said:
- Ideas can come from anywhere but they need a champion to back the idea and have a strategy behind it
- You must prioritise user validation early
- It’s important to be clear on who you need to influence
Top-down bets are different, she added. These come down from management and are validated in the market:
- Top-down bets can work. If it’s the culture in your organisation, embrace it
- Inherit the idea and own the execution
- Protect it from the rest of the organisation so this bet doesn’t clash with other teams or initiatives
We learned to launch early, manage risk, then make the call over whether it works when making big bets — however you have to give these risks time to succeed or fail. Alice closed the keynote by encouraging us all to take a chance on our big bet.
Add the human element to product experimentation
In a breakout session, Terry Lee, senior product manager at Flo Health, explored how product managers can use the human element in product experimentation.
As product managers, he told us, we can see what metrics and what tests are better than others, but that’s not the be-all and end-all of experimentation. If you’re just choosing products based on tests then nothing gels together. Terry encouraged us to think about more than metrics and to add a human element to experimentation.
Don’t just look at the metrics in your area. This leads to tunnel vision. Question the data, does it set the right expectations? Are you creating false positives? Is it on brand? These answers will enable you to add the human element to your experiments.
Being imperfect is perfect for product management
Osaseri Guobadia, head of product at Songkick convinced us that there is no perfect product manager. Every product manager is different, she said, and every role requires a different type of product manager.
The key to success, she said, is to harness your ability and to refine it accordingly. When developing your skills, don’t focus too much on your weaknesses as you’re more likely to fall to imposter syndrome, while if you focus on your strengths and successes you’re likely to become too overconfident.
Instead, she advised, develop your skills by becoming more competent. Build your expertise by leaning into your strengths. Believe in your growth by developing your growth mindset.
Prioritise your tasks when faced with overwhelming problems
In a keynote that really got Twitter talking, former director of product of the Covid-19 NHS app, Randeep Sidhu, discussed the lessons learned from building the app throughout the pandemic when he started building the product in June 2020.
He talked us through the initial stages of app development (following on from a previous version that had failed). Research, he said, showed that the majority of users cared more about protecting their loved ones over themselves or the public — motives that hadn’t been prioritised in the first version.
With this information, he created a framework to best understand what product features to focus on. The key to this, he explained, was in building from the bottom up to ensure that all users were included and that the right motivations for using the app were prioritised.
We also learned that building a product in such a short timeframe isn’t always perfect. When encountering criticism, Randeep said to “kill them with engagement and love. Focus on your goal and keep control of this feedback through openness and transparency”. In short, hone in on the thing that matters the most, which in Randeep’s case, was to protect the people that you love.
Go slower to go faster with agile
Author of Sooner Safer Happier, Jonathan Smart, taught us a lesson on business agility. He said to focus on the culture and behaviour when integrating an agile business model. It takes time to integrate new ways of working within your organisation. Jonathan said to think big and start small.
Communication is imperative through change. Portray visual proof that this agile mindset works. Don’t treat the future as it’s predictable, have an emergent mindset — acknowledging that the future is not knowable. He closed by encouraging all organisations to start slow with agile, it’ll benefit you in the long run.
Predict the future of sustainability by designing it
“To change a system, you must first understand it,” Leyla Acaroglu opened with in the last keynote session at #mtpcon London+EMEA Day 2. She said to use Systems Thinking to understand the relationships in a sustainable future before creating solutions.
Everything that we do is interconnected and has an impact on the environmental future. She said that we need to have a more holistic approach when looking to find a solution for sustainable futures.
Leyla said that the best way to predict the future is to design it — redesign the way we create value. She closed by saying that we as individuals have the power and the capacity to change the world and we have the ability to design a better future.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for two, both in person and digitally, and to our wonderful crew and sponsors for all of their support. Find out more at mindtheproduct.com/london and, if you’re a Mind the Product member, you’ll be able to access all of the incredible keynote talk and session videos on your membership dashboard on Monday 25 October.
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.
Images: Fat Fox Photography
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