Product Teams: Managers, Developers, Designers, UI, UX
Monday, February 7, 2022
Growing the B2B digital services firm, Axioned (est. 2006), has been a fun and challenging journey.
Rubber duck debugging: "Many programmers have had the experience of explaining a problem to someone else, possibly even to someone who knows nothing about programming, and then hitting upon the solution in the process of explaining the problem."
In scaling and growing Axioned, my team and I fully embrace the rubber duck method (aka "talk things out to test it out") to solve problems AND get things done.
This is a highly interactive session (IF it's allowed to be) with exercises that encourage participation amongst attendees.
It lights people-up + drives "aha" moments.
- Intro & practical(s): GTD (getting things done) and how to correctly define "next actions" (verbs/doing words clarify)
- Intro & practical(s): Rubber duck debugging aka "talking things out to test it out" - and how this supports GTD
Although leadership skills have been analyzed for so long, there is something in the way we choose and raise our technical leads that defy all laws. We often think that the brightest and most creative person in the team will eventually become a technical lead, which actually happens in most cases. The exciting part, though, the process of becoming a technical lead starts when we actually take over the role. What seemed to be a gratification for excellent results can become a long list of failures if you don’t really, really prepare for the challenge. Luckily we can learn from each other’s mistakes, so join us to touch some hot spots in the technical leadership journey.
“Quality”… velocity, productivity, and efficiency? Improved performance? Few or no bugs? Meets stakeholder requirements? “Done”… we did what we planned? Fits business objectives? Coded, tested, documented, and deployable?
Remember our customers? The people paying our salaries? Their satisfaction is supposed to be our *highest* priority. But we fall in love with assumptions about users. We burn weeks coding, testing, merging, and releasing product guesses. We move to the next project, and are interrupted later when we learn that customers aren’t finding much value or quality in that last release. Guessing, assuming, and being reactive aren’t Agile or Lean. Six Sigma would be ashamed of you.
“Architecting for customers’ needs and tasks” and “being Agile” shouldn’t be the polar opposites they often are now. No matter what an Agile coach, scrum master, or stakeholder declares, the customer decides what is “quality,” “done,” and “good enough.”
Learn how to change processes to improve agility, eliminate some Lean waste, and produce better customer outcomes.
Over the past 2 decades, interview methods for Product Managers evolved significantly. As we continue experimenting to find a truly accurate means of interviews, many tactics proven to have weak results have been dropped. Interestingly, with dramatic changes to the technology industry in recent years, resulting in both a surge of demand for PMs, and a surge in the supply, many companies unprepared for the new dynamics ended up with poor interview habits. Today, courses for PM interview training literally warn students that "being a good PM and interviewing for PM roles are not the same thing." It's time to re-assess our methods in this landscape, and in observing what we're doing wrong (and right), how to achieve a better process.
Here we'll share market data, learnings from many hiring managers over 5+ years, and learnings from PM interview courses to highlight quantitatively what is happening with our interviews.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
There are a host of changes that come with a company being acquired, such as joining a larger organization and integrating teams and product offerings with the parent company. In this session, Jodi will share her first-hand experience leading product teams at multiple companies through acquisitions and spearheading product integration. She will also share best practices for scaling a product organization for growth following an acquisition and building a high-performance team that is aligned with meeting larger business goals.
The people that know our business best, are our business people and the people that know our products best are the people that use them everyday. Building a champion network of employees from your business can not only help you boost engagement and adoption but can also be a great way to get real feedback and build a roadmap that continually drives value for your users.
This session will discuss the importance of building a champion network, where to start and who to select.
There's no point creating something that no one wants.
Yet, many teams skip doing Product Discovery with customers.
In this session, Jim will present concrete Product Discovery best practices that teams can start using immediately. He’ll focus on how to create quick experiments that drive valuable feedback while being easier to create and easier to analyze.
With these best practices, you’ll feel more confident building prototypes and leading customer interviews so you can make evidence-based decisions. And as you do more Product Discovery, you’ll uncover more customer-inspired innovation.
So you’re ready to hire someone to help with user experience. You’ve identified usability issues with your sites, apps, or other software products, and need someone to help fix them, a single usability professional to “do UX”—whatever that means. I’m sorry to tell you, this person does not exist. And, if you try to foist all of your usability problems onto one professional, you will not get the rainbow-filled success you’re hoping for.
While UX professionals might be pretty magical beings, no one person can juggle all of the areas of expertise needed for top-tier user experience. Having a full, well-rounded usability team is always ideal. But we don’t live in a world of unicorns or ideals. You may only be able to get the budget, resources, or go-ahead for one UX hire.
If that’s where you’re at, not all is lost. You can still create more useful, usable sites and apps with a single, strategic UX hire. To make this work, you’ll need to focus less on one person to do all things UX and more on how your lone UX pro will fit into the team and skillsets you already have.
Attendees will walk away being able to:
1. Make an honest assessment of their team’s strengths and weaknesses.
2. Understand the value of embedding UX in their existing team structure.
3. Take concrete steps towards happier users and improved success online.
The workforce is currently experiencing The Great Resignation, where as many as 4.3 million workers are leaving their jobs each month in search of increased satisfaction and more fulfillment in their careers. In a field as fast growing as data science, this has left a massive skills gap that is hard to keep up with. Companies are struggling to find talent in a competitive market and instead are looking internally, however, their current employees aren’t trained in the skills they need. Additionally, as more senior workers retire, the number of people able to teach these skills significantly reduces.
Because of this, companies are now starting to embrace the role of the “citizen data scientist,” which are employees who work with predictive/prescriptive analytics models but whose primary job function lies outside the field of data science and analytics. These employees typically have easily transferable skills, and can help companies address any weaknesses in their data science teams. Similarly, by 2023, it’s predicted that the number of active citizen developers at large enterprises will be four times the number of professional developers.
While organizations are seeing value in this new concept, convincing, empowering, and sourcing these employees is a different story. How do companies encourage these employees to take a step into the data science world? What strategies can employers adopt to motivate employees to learn a new skill, if they’re already comfortable where they are? And most importantly, what sorts of skills/attributes should developer team leads be looking out for?
Alicia Frame, the Director of Product Management for Data Science at Neo4j, will draw from her own experience hiring these individuals - and being one of them herself - and share best practices other developer team leads can use to help make data science more accessible and fill gaps on their teams. She’ll also talk about what tech companies can do to build products and the tools that enable citizen data scientists and developers to deliver business value.
PRO TALK (ProductWorld): Defining Your Journey from Good To Exceptional; Lessons Learned from a Rookie PM
Product Managers sit at the cross-road of business, UX, and technology and have the potential to make or break the product. Good product managers work hard to build and launch products that customers love, they conduct research, develop the product strategy and roadmap, communicate in all directions, and juggle about 1000 other things. But what is the journey to become an exceptional Product Manager? What is the roadmap to get there and what skills do you need in your toolkit?
Maria will highlight critical lessons learned in her journey from a non-technical background starting out in Colombia to leading teams across product, design, and engineering and rapidly scaling multidisciplinary and intercultural teams.
Participants will learn about how important skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, and effective priority setting are essential in laying the foundations for high-performing teams. Additionally, participants will walk away with the knowledge to be able to utilize their core strengths to set strategic priorities for their own journey from being good to exceptional.
Product Owner vs Product Manager, what's the difference?
In this session, rather than fuel the seemingly existing battle between the Product Owner/Product Manager titles, we will go into details of why this disparity exists in the first place, what is expected of you as a Product Owner or Product Manager and how to succeed at what you do.
Product development has evolved rapidly over the years, but there has always been one element at the core of success or failure: People.
During this talk, you’ll learn about how great teams are created and how to keep them great, gaining insights into what works and what doesn’t work through stories of 20 years of trial and error. You’ll learn how to grow product teams from scratch, build them through high-scale growth, startup crash and burns, and through company IPOs. Hear about these things and more while learning how to keep your attention on what matters most -- the humans that make it all happen.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
I will share product strategy for building technology based products with an enterprise mindset. And innovating with an inclusive approach bringing customers, research, design, engineering, sales, legal and marketing at scale
We observe bad Developer Experiences across industries and in a variety of organisations and products. A common result of bad DX is a high cognitive load for development teams: long waiting times lead to a high amount of context switches and ultimately to a degrading momentum. Still some technical products and platforms struggle due to a lack of empathy with the user, the developer.A good Developer Experience on the other hand gets your features into production fast, reliable and safe. Whether you are managing an organisation or building a product for developers, it is time to research your developer users’ experience and invest in it.Based on our experience building a cloud and an IoT platform used by developers, we will highlight the business benefits of a good developer experience and take a closer look at indicators that help identify the right opportunities to invest in.
You just got hired! Congrats! Now what? It takes most new product managers six to eight months to reach full productivity. Most companies and managers don't have onboarding training designed specifically for product managers. This means you would spend half of your first year haphazardly gathering the bits of information you need to be an effective product manager. You need to create a learning plan to conquer your first 90 days. These first 3 months set the foundation you will build off of. Learn what to do and what not to do in your first 90 days. Join this practical session on how to navigate your new role and discover the information necessary to be successful.
Does your team take enough time out of their schedules to improve their practice? Or do they find that they are in non-stop status meetings? When do they find time to improve themselves as an individual and a team?
Today's roles require experience and constant practice to be effective. Without taking the time to hone their craft your team will not be able to wrangle the increasingly complex world that they need to deal with daily.
If you don’t put aside the time for the team to learn it will fall to the individual. A small number of people will take on more hours to improve themselves but burn out. While other people that don’t have the extra time will improve at a much slower rate through their experience. The core of the problem is that we separate how we learn from the work we do on a regular basis.
In this talk, Chris Butler will help you understand how you should replace, restructure, and repeat meetings to help the team grow individually and together. By making our learning and training look more like work we will help everyone grow.
Since the start of the pandemic, parents have had to play full-time employees and full-time caregivers to our children. Far too often, we talk about our kids as a distraction from our core work, but the transition from individual to parent teaches us lessons about teamwork, empathy, and communication. As a Product Manager, I’ve found these lessons especially important as I strive to build products that make the world a better place for my kids and a workplace culture where they can thrive as adults. By sharing my experiences and challenges as a parent, I hope to combat the implicit bias in our culture that says performance at work suffers when we become parents, especially when women become mothers, and focus the conversation on how parenting helps us be better teammates, teaches us what's really important for our users, and gives us the courage to create a better world for all our children.