Sunday, March 21, 2010

Product Camp 2010 Session Notes

Last week I gave an overview of P-camp 2010 at Yahoo campus.  Today I want to give details from notes of the sessions I attended.  (My full write up in SVPMA Journal)

10:00 Product Management in a Start-Up Environment (Adam Birch) @ Salon 7
Sophia Perl attended this one also. 

Proposed description:  How is product management different in start up versus a large established organization? Pros and Cons? What skills are more important in each type of organization.

We gathered outside of a classroom around a couple of tables.  There were not enough chairs for everyone.  Adam suggested a scenario and we broke into small groups to discuss how product management should respond.  The basic scenario:  The founder wants to start "The Guy Registry", an online detail lifestyle portal site to sell consumer products, electronics, gadgets specifically for men.  The founder is the head engineer, there is one finance person, 2 software engineers, 2 QA people, 1 QA intern, and you, the 1 product manager. There is $1 million of funding, a working alpha demo that is basically a wish list, a log in and a database.  The founder insists there is proof of concept.

We discussed as a big group questions to answer, i.e.
  • What steps necessary to get to Version 1.0
  • What tools, resources are free/affordable to implement
  • What experience is necessary
  • What is different in a start-up situation for product management 
In our cluster, several people had a lot to say at the beginning of the discussion and then walked away.  Points made:
  • Its important for product management to define the conversation, determine the priorities
  • Ask the difficult questions: What is the product, who is it for, how to reach the target, validate the assumptions
  • How to monetize immediately, how to validate the founder's assumptions
  • why do we need 3 QA out of the gate
Each group presented their recommendations afterwards.  There really wasn't enough time to go deep, but it was valuable to hear different perspectives and approaches.  The best take away I remember is to create different blogs that represent different target customer personas, populate the blogs with customer case stories and then use these to "blame" when making a case about different feature choices, directions and road map.

11:00 Use of Social Media for Product Marketing Research (Scott Gilbert) @ Classroom 3
Scott is a dynamic speaker and led an interactive session, drawing a lot of response from the audience.  He posted his slides and pdf of the session.  I didn't take notes because I was so engaged in the conversation. Scott referenced last year's P-Camp and Mike Lee's list of resources for conducting free market research using online social media tools. 

In a humorous tone, I took public credit for coining the term "continuous conversation" in reference to social media...Daniel Young doesn't attribute it to me on his blog when he states that "Senior marketing professionals need to adjust their mindset, and that of their organisation, to the new dynamics of social media and continuous conversation."

Cindy Alverez of Kissmetrics contributed some salient points to the discussion. 

1:15 Making Web 2.0 work for product management with Andrew Filev,
Many people followed the rule that it is okay to walk out and join another session if you're not getting value.  Andrew opened with a slide deck talking about Web 2.0 and then responded to participant questions.  He talked about integration between the desktop and the cloud and put a list on the board of different types of tools and companies that provide them.  
Microblogging:  twitter, yammer, mahalo
blogs: wordpress, blogspot
wikis: sharepoint, taligent, socialtext, confluence, jive
PM tools: xmind, pencil firefox add-onbasecamp
Helpdesk: Giva, Gemini for bug tracking
Virtual meetings: dimdim, gotomeeting
Issues: Jira, unfuddle

2:15  Product Strategy 101 with Sue Raisty-Egami
This truly was a foundation class in product management methodology tools.  I made a pitch for becoming a certified product manager, as I was surprised that participants were not familiar with the tools she "taught", such as Porter's 5 forces
Boston Consulting Group matrix, 
and a SWOT analysis.  Sue has an MBA, as well as 2 major PM certifications. Ajit Kulkarni posted detailed notes here.

3:15 Story Craft with Dennis Britton and Amy Lightholder
Dennis and Amy demonstrated the process of writing stories through interaction with the participants. We used someone's real business example to practice writing stories.  Dennis suggested participating with the Bay Area Agile Project Leadership Network to learn more about Agile and get free training and experience.  Dennis referenced the book, Software by Numbers,  "Incremental Funding Methodology (IFM), an ROI-informed approach to software development in which software is developed and delivered in carefully prioritized chunks of customer valued functionality. These chunks are known as Minimum Marketable Features or MMFs."

He said that story formats are required for Agile Teams.  Story is defined in Extreme Programming as "a reminder to have a conversation."  You have to communicate feature requirements in increments that are easy to build.  Human nature fills in the blanks that are left open.  Developers love to build.  They think that "if you didn't put it down on paper, its not important."  Stories should be implementation free.  You need to know the developers and the distributed team to understand their approach, language, even culture and learning style - visuals communicate.  

An epic is an entire story that needs to be decomposed  Applications are small detailed stories.  A thin slice is a different story for each behavior - not a feature which is too ambiguous.  Acceptance criteria  are specific instances which define "done".  

The story format is:
As a (user)
I want (activity)
So that I can (get benefit)

Agile principles are to delay commitment to the last responsible moment, like in the military because you don't have all the information.  

Tools mentioned:
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