In April, we posted this list of conferences. Since then, I’ve been asked dozens of times what my favorite product conference is.
There are a lot of great product events, but for my money, none are better than Mind the Product. It’s the only product conference where I feel confident that the content will push my thinking and that there will be a number of great parties. That’s a fun combination.
Here are my highlights from Mind the Product SF:
1. My workshop attendees were fantastic!
I had 25 people in my Continuous Product Discovery Habits workshop. They learned how to collect stories in interviews, do rapid prototyping (they built several in the workshop), and because one of the participants asked for it (!), we spent some time learning about my opportunity solution tree. The feedback was great and I left encouraged to highlight the opportunity solution tree in my upcoming Mind the Product London talk.
2. Aparna highlights that machine learning will allow computers to adapt to humans.
I love the way Aparna Chennapragada, Product Director at Google, framed one of the benefits of machine learning as computers being able to adapt to humans rather than humans having to adapt to computers. This is such a simple insight and it’s what many of us aim to do when we develop products, but I lit up when I saw her slide as I started to imagine a world where this was really true (not just “kind of sort of, okay not really” true). That’s awesome.
“With machine learning, computers will adapt to humans, rather than humans having to adapt to computers.” – Tweet This
3. Nate encourages us to focus on knowledge transfer.
I love that Nate Walkingshaw, CXO at Pluralsight, deliberately focuses on knowledge transfer across his team. So many teams underestimate this. I believe deep knowledge about our customers is the best competitive advantage we have and it’s critical to do the work to share this knowledge across our teams.
“Customer knowledge is a competitive advantage. How are you sharing it across your teams?” – Tweet This
4. Josh tells us how to detect if our users are really using our products.
“Are your users really using your product? Track core users to find out.” – Tweet This
5. Janice shows why intrapreneurship is legitimately hard AND we can do better.
This was my favorite talk of the day. Janice Fraser, SVP at Bionic Solutions, talked about intrapreneurship in big companies, what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly what each of us can do to help move the organization forward regardless of where we sit in the organization. The slide above is her advice to leaders on how to manage teams in an uncertain world. I’ll be sending this video to all of my clients as soon as it is available.
“Reward learning, not certainty. Ask, don’t tell.” – Tweet This
6. Janna argues your roadmap is a prototype for your strategy.
I hate that roadmaps typically present a certain view of the future. Repeat after me: There is nothing certain about the future. Nothing. So I loved this framing of roadmaps as strategy prototypes by Janna Bastow, CEO & Co-Founder of ProdPad.
“Your roadmap is a prototype for your strategy.” – Tweet This
7. Caitlin Kalinowski shares a thing or two about prototyping.
Speaking of prototypes, Caitlin Kalinowski, Head of Product Design Engineering at Oculus, quickly dropped a lot of prototyping knowledge. I love her visual depiction of the decision to keep investing vs. resetting (the first slide) and she walked through a great list of prototyping tips (second slide).
“Solve the hardest problem first. Iterate like crazy.” – Tweet This
And finally, I’ll note that I absolutely loved that the vast majority of the day was about product discovery. Don’t get me wrong, delivery matters. Without it, we’d have no products. But for most of us, the hard problems we face are in discovery and we’ve neglected this area for far too long.