Why would you attend a product management conference, when your time might be better spent learning technical skills or studying some new open source project? Well, the short answer is because there are aspects of product management in almost all jobs now. With the cloud and service based thinking, we all have to think about consumption, pricing & packaging (chargeback), lifecycle, and where we are going to provide value in the marketplace – even if it’s private marketplace, aka private cloud. Or, because the world loves hyperbole, I sometimes say – “we are all encouraged to think like product managers.” But, what does that mean?
It means we need to think beyond just the implementation and along the axes (yes, this is the plural of axis) of time and value. Time is hardest thing to do for primates to visualize, let alone other mammals. Value is another abstract concept that we aren’t very good at measuring without dollars. Both take training and practice. Product Management (PM) has been a profession for a long time. Both Pragmatic Marketing and Serius Decisions have been building and delivering product management training for a long time. As an aside, I have taken a good bit of the Pragmatic Marketing training, and it is quite good. They have modules like Focus, Build, Launch, Market, Price, etc.
In pursuit of personal growth as a Product Manager, I spent a few days in Cleveland, Ohio attending a product management conference called INDUSTRY Cleveland. I live in Akron, so it wasn’t far. There were some some really good talks. Here’s a list of some of the ones I found interesting with a bit of commentary:
- Nick Caldwell – Growing Engineering Orgs –
- Deerja Kaur – Creating, Defining and Scaling the Role of Product – It was in interesting experiencial talk about working at ESPN.com/Mobile, and starting The Skimm. Pretty insightful and she was super modest and genuine.
- Teresa Torres – Becoming a Successful Continuous Discovery Team – She had some really good techniques on how product management, design, and engineering can collaborate – slides 11 and 12.
- Merci Victoria Grace – Building a 0-1 Product Team – She has some really good tidbits on what Product Managers vs. Project Managers do – slide 5. I would also comment that Program Managers run long lived projects – like a product with multiple version that doesn’t really have a begin and end date.
So, if you are a senior architect, developer or even a sysadmin, I would suggest spending a little time to get a product mindset. It will really help with your interactions with customers and product management. It will also help you serve your peers better when you are building internal tools. And, who knows, you might find another avenue for your career growth…