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Product Camp Atlanta 2011 Notes

I attended Product Camp Atlanta for the second time today.  As the website says its a ” collaborative, user organized professional conference, focused on Product Management and Marketing topics.”  As with my first product camp, I enjoyed my time today and it was worth giving up a Saturday to find time to network, collaborate, share, and learn.

Enclosed are the notes I took from the four sessions I attended.

Session #1 – Driving Sales with Compelling Messaging
Russell Scherwin (@rscherwin)
  • Use relevant examples with items that people can relate to and understand.
  • Make sure the example is relevant to the environment/industry.
  • Use a reference customer where appropriate to make impact.
  • If you don’t have a reference customer, get one (may involve giving a product away, but make sure to get commitment of involvement. from them.)
  • The goal of a product message is to create a position and value. (relevant, differentiated, defensible)
    • example: Inception (movie) is about planting an idea that can grow on its own
  • Marketing starts with the product. Sales starts with the audience.
  • Sales needs to know why specific topic will help them drive relevance and differentiation.
    • Help sales gain credibility.
    • Up-front credibility reduces cycle time and competitive threats.
Session #2 – Transitioning a service into a product (small group discussion)
The speaker for this topic was not able to make it, so a small number of attendees stayed to have a round-table like discussion on the topic.
  • Thought: How do I make a service that I have provided to be scalable?
    • How many people are needed to execute in a predictable / consistent manner?
    • One thought might be to use a partner program
    • At what level do you move from solving a problem for one customer to something that solves problems for multiple people?
    • The process to create the service is a template
    • Selling blocks of hours is not a product as a service because its not repeatable. Meaning that if you are selling blocks of service it’s more like consulting.
  • What about value based billing for services? Service fee is based on value of results?
  • billing hourly – in this model the payee pays more less competency
  • billing based on value means payee doesn’t pay for any learning curve and gives risk mitigation against low performing results.
Session #3 – Deciding WHAT to build
  • Dennis Stevens (@dennisstevens)
  • Fedex logo – do you know of the secret symbol (arrow between E and X)?
  • With the The “how” trap – People are focused on the how but this is irrelevant to the what.
  • If we focus on the how, the effort expands faster than value
    • Over analyze and over design
      • focus on the next highest increment of value
      • goat path – a story that defines the absolute minimum required to walk a happy path of an activity from one end to another
        • Each successive level defines more (gravel road, paved road, super highway)
      • start with the simplest thing that might possibly work
      • reduce risk early with as little investment as possible
      • be focused on small specific objectives
    • Delivery is over-engineered
      • The runway is more important than the road-map
      • Make work ready so the next most important thing can be worked on
      • Establish context and delivery early and frequently (establish value early)
  • Customer value vs business value
    • What the customer perceives as important and is willing ot pay for (customer value)
    • Decrease costs, increase revenue, increase service (business value)
  • Revisit the road-map frequently
Session #4 – Great Groups: Building sustainable high performance product teams
Richard Cullom
  • People need a reason to believe
    • The company they work for
    • The person they work for
    • The people they work with
  • The epic – people need to be part of something bigger than themselves
  • Servant leadership –
    • Build community
    • Foster teamwork
    • Get the team to care about each other
    • Be the moral backbone (they take on your philosophy)
  • Risk Mitigation for the team
    • Remove bad apples (PDQ)
    • Mentor and promote the people who want to move
    • Be the steward of calm and happy
  • Know what people want to do
    • Career goals
    • Personal goals