Monday, March 14, 2011

Product Managing the Global Product Management Talk


I'm excited to report that after 5 weeks in existence, the Global Product Management Talk on twitter is gaining traction in the product management community with thought leaders sharing their expertise as speakers with  product managers contributing insights in a very quick hour of tweeting discussion. 

My greatest appreciation for the collaborative efforts of my co-host, Adrienne Tan and the entire team of brainmates, Australia and to the speakers who didn't hesitate to jump in: Steven Haines of Sequent Learning, Scott Sehlhorst of Tyner Blain, Jim Holland and Saeed Khan of Onproductmanagement.net, and Roger Cauvin.  

To date, we have discussed 
Best In Class Product Management
Establishing Market Authority
Innovation is Just Good Product Management
Building a PM Organization
Market Insights

Each week following the event, I post a transcript of the twitter discussion and a twitter list of participants, Adrienne provides a summary of the cogent tweets, while the speakers and other participants post blogs in response to the issues raised.  All the content is captured on the site I maintain at http://bit.ly/htNQju, including background knowledge about the speakers and their suggested links.

From a product point of view, ProdMgmtTalk has a 7 day launch cycle; all of the product marketing elements required for a product launch are repeated weekly. I intend to detail those behind the scene actions in future postings about startup product marketing and creating virtual knowledge communities.

Further context: as an early adopter, I am always trying out new tools to understand user experience, provide feedback from the market, and test the competitive space.  To this end, I have been researching tools for virtual events and discussions.  Disclaimer: I loved Googlewave and have managed online developer communities and mentor offline local communities around various issues, thus my introduction of another tool, Tanglerlive into the mix.

As founder and product manager of the ProdMgmtTalk, I'm posting my notes on lessons learned from last week's #ProdMgmtTalk followed by feedback from Saeed Khan and Scott Sehlhorst.  

What worked:

Excellent discussion around building PM organization and related issues
Increased participation: New and returning participants (statistics will follow)
Increased comfort with twitter hashtag and discussion format
Increased desire to join live discussion on Skype

What didn't work:

----Technical difficulties; Skype, Tanglerlive, Twitter

----Distraction; too many things going on dissipates focus of conversation 

----Conflicting agendas; 
enhance ongoing community discussion vs. support specific twitter talk


Technical Difficulties
1. Skype - we have consistently had issues utilizing Skype to conference everyone in at the same time. This week, we had the most people on Skype and the least amount of verbal conversation.  Previously, Skype has served to increase our enjoyment of the event, enable deeper conversation amongst the speaker and co-hosts, and allow us to collaborate on the focus and progress of the twitter discussion.  

The ideal usage of Skype is to meet and orient the speaker prior to the event, support their efforts during the event, and debrief following the discussion. 

Going forward
--schedule a 3-way conversation prior to the event to better serve the speaker and customize the experience appropriately 
--rethink how many people can or should be on Skype 
--separately consider other opportunities for live conference product management discussions, i.e. webinars

I have been testing different tools to support the discussion, seeking to extend limitations of twitter and enable depth of conversation
However,
--Red Light! Even PMs need time to master a new tool prior to an event!
--Danger implementing a new tool live without practice sessions & scaling guarantees
--Continue to assess

3. Twitter
We can expect twitter difficulties consisting of overload, tweets not showing up from different tools (tweetdeck), twitter tools slowing down the stream or dropping tweets. 

4. Distraction - too many avenues to simultaneous communication dissipates the focus - trying to Skype, Tangler, Tweet, and for me attempting to manage, monitor, orient, welcome, watch time & contribute to the discussion on 2 fronts, 2 handles and 3 tools....

--result was missed opportunity to engage with speaker & focus of conversation
Going forward
--less is more/back to basics - master the art of twitter talk! i.e., stay within limitations of twitter for the event

5. Agendas - 
Granted, the twitter talk is one element of a bigger goal: 
to raise visibility of product management as a profession, promote product management experts, provide a forum for ongoing discussions

Recognize that the Global Product Management Talk on Twitter is a weekly product event launch, requiring on-going marketing actions of promotion & outreach, speaker attention, content curation & publication

Suggestion:
-During event, the Twitter discussion & speaker content is the focus - anything distracting from that focus should be shelved to another time
-Same with Skype - reassess if it supports or hinders the focus 
-Tanglerlive can be open on the website to capture conversation before & after the event, however not yet tool of choice, to be reconsidered 

From Saeed:
Thanks for the detailed response. Please feel free to include my comments. I pretty much agree with everything you wrote below.

I think the openness of Twitter -- even with it's flaws -- for this kind of discussion outweighs other means for the discussion. e.g. even if TanglerLive worked properly, it's a closed system. The fact that Tangler has a Tweet capability for messages says something doesn't it? i.e. if evangelism is one of the goals for these talks, then the more open it is, the better.

The limits of Twitter messages is both a boon and a hinderance. It forces people to make their point quickly. I tend to get long winded if given the opportunity :-) and I did notice my messages were much shorter (out of necessity) on Twitter vs. Tangler. That's not a bad thing.

It can be hard to track the flow of the conv on Twitter, because you're not guaranteed to see all the message. I did not see any of Jim Holland's messages. I was just using a browser and not a dedicated twitter client. And even across clients there are issues.

At least one person should be commissioned to retweet key messages, particularly when people (like Jim) are not visible in the main stream.

One suggestion I'd make is to promote the talks on Twitter via other hashtags.  #innovation is a great one. Very active and full of people with similar mindset.

I like the Skype (voice) option for speaker orientation. That's a great back channel to keep things coordinated and flowing over the Twitter chat. I wasn't following the skype chat at all during the hour.

Again, thanks for the opportunity and I'd love to do it again if you need someone for another talk.

Saeed

From Scott:

staying on twitter might be best for now, although I think an interesting move might be to go audio-primary, with a moderator working twitter as the 'back channel' to keep engagement up.  but not sure how to do that without losing the high audience participation.  still thinking...

Thank you, Saeed and Scott for your feedback and continued participation to extend the value and reach of the Global Product Management Talks on twitter!
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