Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Geeked out! My Day at the Mind the Product Conference

Last week I was able to attend the Mind the Conference for the first time. It is now one of my favorite conferences of all time – I felt like I was with my tribe.  It’s like ProductCamp but exponentially bigger.  I’ve come back jet lagged and inspired.  I’m motivated to continue to learn, get better and to take some of what I learned and infuse it into my day-to-day job as a product leader.

The diversity of speakers resulted in a diversity of topics for the day.  They ranged from the immediately actionable to inspirational as well some good reminders of what we often already know but too easily forget. Topics included Embracing Conflict, Learning to say No, Rapid Prototyping, Story Telling and Product Failures. My favorite topic of the day was by Kathy Sierra.  Her talk was inspired by her book BadAss Making Users Awesome.  It was a reminder that our products are supporting our users in a much larger context.  To support them we need to help them find flow through challenges and to help them feel more like a human being.  It was about reducing “cognitive leaks” and not making our users think about the wrong thing.   My co-worker has a great post on this topic and the overall experience for a user. This book is now at the top of my reading stack! 

A theme throughout many of the sessions is the concept of testing your hypothesis (your problem statement), creating experiments, getting feedback and pivoting.  Getting feedback throughout the process…not waiting until the end.  Most organizations believe they’re practicing agile development but are only applying it during the build process – this is something that needs to be expanded throughout our processes.  It’s a great opportunity for us to get back to the basics of agile and take our product teams to the next level. The speaker, Marty Cagan, posted about it after the conference - it's a great read.

Finally, my favorite part was the people.  The networking was a-w-e-s-o-m-e.  So many great folks that were willing to share their ideas and what they’ve learned.  I met many product people that I’ve been reading their books/blogs for years.  This would be the equivalent of someone meeting Sandra Bullock (or for me Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black fame) but for the product space.  In addition to big names, it was so great to meet product people across industries.  I met a product manager also navigating through ACA but for the education space.  Who would have thought?  I can't wait to go back next year!  

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