This year’s Product Management Festival brought together over 450 attendees from 26 countries for an energizing conference on current product management topics. 31 product management leaders from around the world presented during the 2-day event. In addition, plenty of time was built into the schedule for networking opportunities. The conference sessions ranged from the tactical to the aspirational, and they provided resources, shared lessons learned, challenged our way of thinking, and much more. In case you missed it, below is a summary of the event.
Not surprisingly, one overarching theme was around building products that customers actually want (or taking out features they don’t really need). Product managers have to keep this in mind, but in practice, many competing responsibilities and priorities can cloud this goal.
- Jen from Netflix spoke on the importance of using data to support product decisions – and to not be afraid to make mistakes.
- Katherine from Carsales.com challenged us to declutter our products of extraneous features using a combination of tools, including using the same process when developing a feature to removing a feature. She also emphasized the importance of identifying the utility of certain features to the product and end users to help determine whether a feature should remain.
- Nikkel, designer from Xing, reminded product managers to keep in mind what is the root cause of the problem we are trying to solve with our products. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution!
- Mathieu from Stöckli showed how much customer research and testing go into producing their famous skis.
- Harish from Oracle spoke on the challenges of replacing legacy products. And that when doing so, do not be remiss in considering the people affected by the change and their emotional attachment to the legacy products.
Another theme was around people. Product managers are reliant on so many teams; without having authority over these teams, how do we get things done? How much does a successful interpersonal relationship impact us? How do we build up a team (and quickly). What are the pitfalls to avoid? Vidya and Heather from Purpose Driven Product, Thabet from YouTube, Giovanni from LinkedIn, and Nick from Facebook spoke on these respective topics.
AI continues to get hotter
Artificial intelligence is a hot topic these days, and it can encompass a wide range of technology. Several sessions touched on this theme: Kriti from Sage and Chris from Conversant Labs spoke on chatbots and creating conversational apps respectively. Tile and Yariv from Google presented how Google Assistant was developed and provided a captivating demonstration.
Intentional product design
Several sessions challenged us to be more intentional (or at least aware) in how we are designing products. The most provocative challenge was thrown by Tristan from Time Well Spent. He highlighted how products and websites are all vying for our attention, and the end result is that rather than helping us become more productive, we are often just constantly distracted. He challenged us to fight for a new kind of product design, one that doesn’t just try to grab our attention, but one that helps us “connect without being sucked in” (have you ever been on name-that-app for only a couple minutes) and also disconnect without worrying you’re missing something important.
The presentations for these, and many other speakers, will be made available to conference attendees shortly. Many thanks to the event organizers and staff, board members, and speakers for putting on such a wonderful event. Looking forward to next year’s conference!