Finally, after three years, MTP Hamburg open the gates for the first physical event after the pandemic. And I couldn’t agree more that meeting in person still is a thing! 🤩
So I’d like to start with the last talk and prompt by Christina Wodtke where she said:
Share everything you learn. Be vulnerable.Christina R. Wodtke
So that’s what I’ll try to share with you in the upcoming paragraphs.
My learnings at MTP Hamburg 2022
Every talk came with more than one learning and as Christina said, let’s share everything I learned.
A warning: this is how you might feel scrolling and skimming through this post – it’s a lot:
So, let’s get it started!
Overcoming Decision Overload: Using principles to Make better Decisions faster by @bfgmartin
Martin brought the decision stack as a concept closer to the audience – could also be a framework to say ‘No’ to everything else which doesn’t fit into your stack.
The biggest gaps Martin sees as consulting other companies is the lack on the strategy and principles layer. He also set the foundation of that conference day – the lack of strategy and principles were mentioned a long the way.
Strategy seems to be an oldie as there are so many strategy concepts out there. Martin picked the SWOT analysis to shortly give an intro that this is just one way to go.
It was very interesting how principles align with your decision stack and give direction towards vision and strategy.
He also gave some good examples for principles and how they align with our values to be more actionable.
Go and check-out the full slide deck + another recording by Martin here: https://martineriksson.com/the-decision-stack
I’ve found those nice sketch notes by @EvaNesbach as a one-pager summary – enjoy:
Product Tetris by @georgie_smalls
I was very skeptical with this title as it remembered me hardly about feature Tetris in the first place. Nevertheless, Georgie surprised me with her Tetris framework and how to make use of it. The idea is to work towards every topic of interest while asking the following questions in the corresponsive area (abbr. SHEF):
- Status: what are you working with?
- History: how the piece came to you?
- Exisiting game: the way the game is played?
- Future: What pieces might come next and how to prepare?
So looking into strategy, this is how it might look like:
You will be able to use this framework on most of the topics to find out about the current state, past and what options you’ll have in the future. I found this “framework” very pragmatic to use in new and existing environments to quickly get and overview and decide what to do next.
Depending on your topics, this is how your product Tetris game looks like – it’s never finished:
One-page sketch note by Eva:
Product Surveillance, Art, Dying Phones and Fake Likes by @DriesDepoorter
This was the most inspiring talk in ways of product thinking. Dries calls himself an artist which he truly is to some extent. He created some great projects thinking out of the box leaving the usual trails.
As Dries mentioned, I think he got famous with his TinderIn project, where he put a side by side profile of pictures of LinkedIn & Tinder of the same person. 🤩
As you can imagine, he was sued by some people as he didn’t ask for permission to use the photos. However, it shows the creativity of his mind and products, that might disrupt.
The Flemish Scrollers was a project to automatically tag Belgian politicians when they use their phone on the daily livestreams with the help of AI. This is how it looks like:
Another one he called Quick Fix which basically is a machine selling likes and followers. He did a live hack of the Instagram account of Nina the dog from Christina Wodtke – what I found out later after MTP. 🙈
Pure gold, there was more I could tell – I’d rather send you to his homepage as you’ll find most of the projects there: https://driesdepoorter.be/
On being user minded – Mind your product language by @apolaine
I couldn’t attend this track but found the content itself very valuable in retrospect. It’s not just Andy who mentions how important word and semantics are, L. David Marquet wrote a whole book about it. Some examples:
It’s also the way we use the word product – what we usually think of as “products” are service ecosystems—which means that every part of them is interconnected.
Andy brought up a very nice analogy to think beyond product, to think ecosystems or gardens. This resonated very deep inside me – especially the long term thinking:
So when you work on features, make sure you connect to the rest of the garden.Andy Polaine
The full slide deck by Andy:
On being user minded – Destroying Every Product Person’s Least Favorite Quote by @mjwhansen
This talk hit the nail – I don’t remember how often I’ve read or heard about the so-called famous Henry Ford quote:
If Henry Ford had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
And guess what – Ford never actually said that! According to the Henry Ford Museum, he never said it, and the quote first appeared in a 2001 letter to the editor in Marketing Week. (Source: Practical UX Design by Scott Faranello)
Instead, Ford ignored customer preferences, but GM didn’t. Ford lost its market leadership and never recovered again.
So. What do we do when someone lobs this quote at us? Don’t just drop the facts as it’s tempting.
And this is the biggest learning from my POV: Ask yourself, why would someone use this quote?
- Functional: They don’t understand the value of talking to customers
- Social: Ideas usually come from the top (HIPPO)
- Emotional: They’re threatened by a new way of doing things
Instead, treat them like you would a customer… talk to them with empathy and curiosity!
It sounds like you’re not sure about the value talking to customers would bring, and maybe doesn’t jibe with how we’ve historically done things here. Can you tell me about that?
Get to the core of their pushes, pulls, anxieties, and fears about incorporating customers into your processes.
Get them in the room!
- Invite them to a usability test
- Let them observe an interview
On being user minded – When Research Hurts by @arasb
This seemed to be another worth talk as Aras described a lot of things, I’m experiencing in my daily work too. A lot comes into place with the people’s mindset, intensions and bias as well as with their role:
The main learnings:
Research Hurts When
- we mistake valid feedback as personal attack, we do it to exploit users,
- we seek to prove ourselves right,
- it builds nice-looking walls,
- it is used as an excuse to avoid discussion.
We thrive with research when
- it highlights the good as well as the bad,
- its primary aim is to learn from users,
- we courageously do it without our ego,
- it embraces everyone on the team,
- it is used to start candid conversations.
Many thanks to Aras as he shared the presentation with me as well and offered a session with our team to discuss more about it as well as about his latest book. Super thankful about that opportunity! 🤩🙏❤️
On giving direction by @simplybastow
I was able to listen to Janna more than once and join ProdPad talks on a regular base. She’s doing a great job to the product community fighting against timeline based roadmaps, what I really appreciate.
What did I learn this time?
Your roadmap is a prototype for your strategy! So here we are back again in the talk from Martin about strategy. Janna pointed out a very important dimension once you talk about objectives and this is initiatives – actions you’ll have to take to get there:
So, one way to embed objectives into your roadmap may look like this what she calls lean roadmapping:
For those you still stuck into time-based roadmaps, Janna put together a guide to ditch it – highly recommended read to deepen your knowledge and thoughts about roadmaps and convince your team and stakeholders to choose a different route: https://www.prodpad.com/resources/guides/ditch-the-timeline-roadmap/
Summary as a one pager:
Incomplete by design by @mattlemay
Matt shared some of his anecdotes during COVID working with teams to see, how he’s able to help. What he found out:
The law of reversed effort for product managers:
The more effort you put into finishing things for your team, the harder you are making it for your team to actually finish things.
From research he found out, that incompleteness acts as a trigger for action.
Matt used this knowledge to create his own manifest, that resulted into a homepage as well.
Check out his homepage for more material and resources: https://www.onepageonehour.com/
His advice – try it with:
- Product specs
- Team charters
- Marketing plans
- Research debriefs
- Org transformation plans (seriously!)
- Book chapters
- Workshop designs
- Work small and incomplete.
- Finish things together.
- And don’t be afraid to turn of the comments.
How Agile, Lean and now OKRs went from Useful to Stoopit aka The Knowing-Doing Gap by @cwodtke
Christina’s talk was a highlight for me, and I felt sad that I’ve missed the opportunity to participate her workshop.
The talk in one slide: 🤩
Christina explained the differences between believe and knowledge very interesting while sharing an anecdote about a friend she helped with introducing OKRs at his company and after a year revisiting shockingly found out that this wasn’t the way she introduced it and meant it.
As an example of believe, this was another one I wasn’t aware of, that the famous Myers-Brigg test isn’t reproducible and therefore not reliable at all. But people “like it”. 😱
The stories we tell ourselves…we run into belief systems and then they bother us.
Some key takeaways:
- when you think you know (but you don’t)
- two types of learning: declarative & procedural knowledge (declarative knowledge fools you into thinking you know what you’re doing)
- Be like an artist and hack back
- Overcome the knowing-doing gap by
- introducing temporal landmarks: every quarter, re-evaluate whether what you’re doing is still useful and do have time for it – should I still do it this way?
- do assumption testing
- play a co-op game, not a competitive one
- share everything you learn
- keep on learning
- be vulnerable
Summary by Eva:
Prompts, Networking, and Introversion
Arne and Petra started Mind The Product 2022 with a prompt for all participants:
What are you going to do differently?
The idea was to act by answering this simple question, so I did. My short answer: I resolve to open up and try to connect with new people. I know this is and was a challenge for me, which hit me hard already in the first break:
It really felt like during the pandemic my introverted nature was getting worse, and I’d rather like to hide than to open up. 🥺
Michele helped me to breakthrough this barrier and make new connections while it was getting better and better with every conversation. I’m deeply thankful that we both met, and she shared her talk with me so I was able to write about it although I wasn’t able to see it live. ❤️
Happy, I was able to meet Jenn, Lisa and Chiedza in person. 🙏
Another prompt at the end of the conference was:
What are you going to differently?
My one thing sharing at MTP actually ended up in three pieces:
There’s so much more to share and tell. I highly recommend using Twitter and search for the #mtpEngage tag and timeline. You should check-out @mtpEngageHH as well.
There are already some more blogposts out there, so have a look there as well.
Petra Willes summaries
- Part 1: https://www.petra-wille.com/blog/mtp-engage-round-up-workshops-and-conference-program
- Part 2: https://www.petra-wille.com/blog/mtp-engage-round-up-learnings-takeaways-and-other-resources
Power of people by Dan Gorman: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/power-people-dan-gorman/
MTP Leadership summary: https://www.mindtheproduct.com/what-we-learned-at-the-2022-mtpengage-leadership-forum/
And of course, much more at the Mind The Product page, like for example https://www.mindtheproduct.com/surveillance-art-dying-phones-and-fake-likes-dries-depoorter-at-mtp-engage-hamburg/.
Anything I missed? Let me know, share your thoughts and let’s have a conversation.