Saturday, February 28, 2009

ProductCampBoston Feb 2009 Photos and Take-aways

The first ProductCampBoston was a great event today. About 100 people turned out to share information and best practices. I learned a lot. Thanks to the leading organizers Todd, Brooks and Sasha, and the presenters. Here are a few photos. I enjoyed making a lot of new contacts and look forward to continued networking & collaboration with you.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Summary of take-aways from the sessions I attended:
From Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing on the Four Roles of PM:
When writing requirements - short is better. Writing requirements isn't like writing a will - you should expect be around to answer any questions that come up along the way.
You have to know and love the industry you are in to be a Product Manager.
The job of the PM is to be one of the "parents of the product." It's possible to be a single parent, but it's a lot harder when you have to do it on your own.
As a "parent of the product" our job is to "get the child ready to leave and rarely return." In other words, the PM is supposed to give Development, Sales, and Marcom enough information so they can answer their own questions.

From Bob Levy (Former BPMA President) on Requirements Management Best Practices:
Resource material on managing relationships and building trust:
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
Crucial Confrontations: Tools for talking about broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior

Contributors to Cognitive Distortion - (not seeing reality - or different people seeing reality differently)
The telephone game: messages get distorted when passed from one person to the next.
Over generalization: everyone does it. (duh!)
Recency effect: placing heavier reliance on recent information.
Observer expectancy: unconscious manipulation of results based on expectations.
Confirmation bias: trying to prove a point.
Status quo: resistance to change
Group think: going along
Projection bias: assuming that other share our own preferences.

Bob presented a systematic methodology for capturing, ranking and reviewing and maintaining requirements in three levels:
green: these are believable, attainable, committed requirements and should should include a description of the market problem, target customer, how it fits with the strategy, revenue estimate, co-requisites, political factors, win-loss history, development estimate.
yellow: these are unfunded stretch goals and should include a use case or scenario, ROI estimate, development effort/time SWAG.
red: future requirements, recommended only with additional investment, don't spend a lot of effort describing these because they aren't likely but should include a target customer.

Steve Haines of Sequent Marketing on Innovation;
Innovation is part of a strategy that enables taking chances while managing risks, focusing on the best return on investment, diversification through resource allocation.

Innovation requires
o Culture of ongoing investment in improvement
o Leadership nurturing an innovative environment
o Attitude mindset for managers and teams
o Process - integrated in new product development

Alyssa Dver of Mint Green Marketing: Seven Habits of Highly Successful PMs
1. PM's must know their products and their own limitations (clarified thanks to comment from Todd)
2. Listen first: start by asking, "tell me what you do."
3. Ask "why?", not "what?" Why to you need the product and how are you going to use it?
4. Decisive - based on market data - PM's make decisions with confidence when they have market data to back up their decisions.
5. Responsive: if people ask for information, if you can't respond right away, let them know when to expect a response.
6. Communicate concretely, frequently and concisely
7. Manage passion - you must be passionate, but not emotional better to be composed and display conviction based on concrete data than rely on emotional persuasion.

In summary an outstanding PM is:
A humble leader, careful, artful communicator and an avid student.

I asked Alyssa if she would add being organized and analytical as attributes of a PM, and she said yes, you need those skills, to perform at even a minimal level of competence, but they are not sufficient to make a PM outstanding.

Another recommended book: Portfolio Management for New Products - (thanks Cory!)

Thanks again to the presenters and participants for sharing their ideas and experience, and to the sponsors for making the day possible.

Closing note: One of my final activities at the end of my 2008 term as Director of Program Planning for BPMA was to champion approval for BPMA's co-sponsorship of this event. It took quite a bit of effort to establish consensus within the board on a package of financial and marketing resource support for ProductCamp. Helping to make this day happen ranks among my most satisfying experiences as a member of the BPMA Board. Thanks especially to my former fellow BPMA board members who supported PCampBoston.