PDX Digital PM — Where to from here?

I started PDX Digital PM in late 2013 following the kick in the pants that was the very first Digital PM Summit. There was a distinct gap to be filled in the Portland area — project leaders (whether they go by the “PM” title or not) weren’t really talking to each other.

After direct-email spamming every digital agency contact I could find, the group was born and our first meetup went off without a hitch in January 2014. Since then, we’ve had 22 meetups with over 300 different people attending at least one event, and an average of 30–40 attendees at any given meetup. Judged against my own hopes for the group, ultimately this has been a success!

But there has been a slight decline in numbers lately, and it’s time to freshen up our approach. A brainstorm with a few individuals and a recent survey definitely helped focus the direction for the group going forward.

The Survey Findings

Thanks to the 50 of you that gave feedback in the survey. Here’s the biggest things we learned:

  • People overwhelmingly see value in the group whether they’ve been able to attend regularly or not. Thanks for the validation!
  • The group is somewhat divided on whether we should continue the small group discussion format or go for more panels and speakers, but many people don’t have the time for a monthly commitment.
  • While people want to hear more from the event hosts on their process and what they’re up to, we need to make sure they avoid being preachy or come across as selling their wares. (Note: part of the benefit to hosts is the chance to talk for a couple minutes about their business. Not a bad trade for some free food/drinks and a space!)
  • There’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario happening, where senior-level peers don’t have as much time to attend and aren’t as incentivized to attend for the sake of learning, leading to a bit more junior-level discussion, which in turn creates even less reason for senior-level PMs to show up. This one needs more troubleshooting.

If you’re interested in seeing more detailed survey results, I put together a summary in Google Docs.

What’s Next

Slack and mentorship coordination were the two big winners in the survey, so we’re moving forward with both of those initiatives. Slack is already open for business, so join and invite your peers — let’s make it an active online knowledge-sharing community among peers. We’re going to do some planning on mentorship and get senior-level people excited to be involved, so stay tuned.

Beyond that, we’re also going to consider a quarterly format for meetups and go a bit bigger with panels, speakers (if we can find them on our meager, near-zero budget), and other formats to change it up a bit.

Most importantly, thank you to those of you who are interested in volunteering your time to help coordinate and make this group better! One really important realization I’ve had through this process is that I’m slowly becoming less the solution and more the problem. With my original goals for the group met, my motivation and charge for what’s next is starting to wane.

Beyond needing some fresh blood in organizing, I’m ready to replace myself with someone who has even more fresh ideas and purpose for the group. I’m not going to just hand off the group and hope for the best; someone needs to come in and really OWN it before I take a backseat. If you’re interested, let me know. The role comes with some nice networking perks and isn’t as much of a time commitment as you might fear.

So that’s where we’re at: simultaneously excited for what’s next and a bit lacking in my personal purpose for the group. I’m both mixing it up with some new ideas and ready to fire myself. Ha. I’m glad you’re all along for the ride!

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