Highlights from Melbourne Product Camp 2019

Remya Ramesh

On 24th Aug 2019, Product Camp Melbourne celebrated its tenth anniversary. Organised by Liz Blink, Jen Leibhart and a group of amazing volunteers, the Product Camp unconference has become an unmissable event in Melbourne Product community calendar for many years’ now.

Jen Leibhart and Liz Blink at Product Camp Melbourne 2019

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of an unconference, it is basically a conference without any pre-defined agenda. Usually, there’s a high-level structure, but the topics are generated, and the agenda is set by those who attend. Given it was a multi-track unconference, the following notes are not the full summary of the event. It covers some of the key takeaways from the talks I attended on the day.

Welcome message from Rich Mironov

Author of The Art of Product Management and product management thought leader, Rich Mironov kicked off the day by sharing the history of Product Camp. He also reminded us that:

  • Product folks thrive on personal networking and it starts with the people you’ve done good work with.
  • Reach out to someone you used to work with and see how they are doing.
  • Sharing lets us externalise challenges — “if most Product Managers are having the same problems, then it can’t just be about my personal failings”.

Opening keynote by Antony Ugoni, Director of Global Matching and Analytics at SEEK

Antony’s talk focussed on how SEEK is utilising data & AI to create insights to make the best recommendations for their advertisers and candidates.

SEEK used analytics as a core enabler of their business strategy to generate foresight about relevant trends and fuel successful business outcomes. Having this strategic alignment between the business strategy and analytics helped SEEK to drive innovation and create a competitive advantage in a competitive market.

Growth product management by Andrea Ho, Growth Product Manager at Atlassian

Growth PMs are peers to the traditional product PMs, but rather than owning a specific product, they focus on improving a specific business metric or commercial goal.

Andrea Ho presenting ‘Growth Product Management’

Often, a Growth PM works across multiple products and focuses on cross-flow (getting users to adopt more products or features) or virality (building viral loops to encourage users to invite other users) initiatives. They are always experimenting hypotheses (working on a backlog of experiments) and running short multi-variant experiments, guard railed by user satisfaction metrics.

By measuring the right things and making data-driven decisions, Growth PMs are able to link their work back to the business goal.

Atlassian’s playbooks for Growth and Experiment

Getting things done by Chris Duncan, Senior Product Manager at carsales.com.au

Inspired by David Allen’s Getting things done (GTD), Chris shared simple life hacks on what helps him to be a productive PM.

If we don’t appropriately manage the ‘open loops’ in our life, our attention will get pulled.

Chris Duncan presenting ‘Getting things done — Being productive as PM’

GTD is a method for organising your to-dos, priorities and your schedule in a way that makes them all manageable. At its core, GTD stands on five “pillars” or steps to getting and staying organised:

  • Capture what has your attention — your to-dos, ideas, recurring tasks etc.
  • Clarify the things you have to do and process what it means by breaking it down into actionable steps.
  • Organise those actionable items by category and priority. Assign due dates where you can, and set reminders, so you follow up on them.
  • Reflect and review your to-do list frequently.
  • Engage your next action and simply do it. As this point, your to-dos are organised by priority and placed in categories. It’s time to get to work.

Qualitative research by Amir Ansari, Head of UX at Transpire

Amir’s talk centred on the concept of why some research is better than none by busting some of the popular UX research myths. He reminded us that there’s no point in asking users what they want — often they don’t know it themselves.

Amir Ansari presenting ‘Qualitative Research — Some is better than none’

Here are hot tips from Amir:

  • You are not the end-user.
  • Your client is not the end-user.
  • People who buy your product may not necessarily be your user.
  • If your stakeholders say they know their users, ask for evidence.
  • Don’t ask users what they want, observe to see what they need.
  • Qualitative research isnt.. quantitative!
  • Qual + quant = right approach
  • It’s your duty as a UXer to convince and sell research to your stakeholders.
Amir’s talk slides on ‘Qualitative Research — Some is better than none’

Resources list:

Feedback that doesn’t suck by Georgia Murch, Author & Speaker

“A person’s success can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have” — Tim Ferris

We all know how important feedback is and why we should give and receive it frequently, but we do it so poorly. Author of Fixing Feedback, Georgia’s talk focussed on what constitutes of helpful feedback and how to deliver it.

Georgia Murch delivering ‘Feedback that doesn’t talk’

To create a high performing team, 4:1 is an ideal ratio of positive to negative feedback. However, the fear of sabotaging a relationship is the number one thing holding people back from giving proper feedback. There’s an art in making people comfortable before giving them the feedback.

For any feedback to be delivered and received successfully, you need to make sure the following elements are included:

  • Facts and examples — what you’ve seen and what you’ve observed.
  • Your opinion about the situation (It’s okay that this can change when new information comes to the surface).
  • What are the consequences?

Feedback is a dance — it often involves sharing what your truth is and creating a safe space for asking the other person’s truth. Remember the real truth is in the intersection of both realities.

Lastly…

A big shout out to the Australia Post team on hosting Product Camp Melbourne as well as a well-organised office tour focussing on their design & research approaches. Learned heaps!

If you’re interested in attending Product Camp or Product anonymous meetups in the future, sign up via Product anonymous meetup page to receive updates.

Remya Ramesh

Written by

Design Leader at @REA_Group | All about people, design, and books.

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