This year’s topics included: Prioritizing Features and Roadmaps, Sales’ Point of View of PMs, UX Design, Dashboards, Freemiums, Gamestorming, PM Myths, PM Career Roadmaps, etc. Steve Robins gave a great presentation on “The Invisible Customer” which very much summarizes creating solutions rather than products. His talk should be a primer for anyone in product management or development.
Events like these are very important to me because there an MBA for Product Management doesn't exist (I remember a professor at MIT Sloan wondering aloud about why there wasn't a course on selling). Much is learned and you have to draw from different parts of your education, experience, past lessons (aka mistakes & failures) and skills.
Besides, where else can someone crack a joke about the meeting being "agile" and everyone getting the pun? (I was waiting for a follow-up joke about having to work with SCRUM….never happened.)
Some of my takeaways:
1. PMs all share similar problems no matter what markets, industries, or companies are.
2. Understanding and aligning with the company goals is critical and should be a first step in any endeavor.
3. Soft skills are key to success in working with other stakeholders. Meet with individuals to get shared buy-in.
4. You must define the buyer personas for your products.
5. Your gut is just that. It’s just part of the necessary input. We’re not Steve Jobs.
6. Don’t fall in love with technology for technology’s sake. If the customer doesn’t care, then it’s not that important.
7. Go see the customer and targeted buyers to understand their problems.
8. There are plenty of smart and hungry Product Managers out there (just like me).
Here were 2 very noteworthy talks at the event: