Impressions from this year’s Product Management Festival


The Radisson Blu Hotel at the Zurich Airport made for an outstanding conference venue. A stellar speaker lineup was in charge of bringing the latest product management findings to an international crowd of 300 attendees.

Conference venue at the Radisson Blu at Zurich Airport

Conference venue at the Radisson Blu, Zurich

The Product Management Festival is an initiative by Swiss consulting firm SwissQ. Only in its second year, the event attracted 300 product managers from around the globe. Not bad at all ;-)

Keynotes and 3 parallel conference tracks

Keynotes and 3 parallel conference tracks

There were 3 parallel presentation tracks, hence I couldn’t attend them all. Here are my favourites:

Jeff Lash on Product Roadmapping

Jeff presented on how to effectively communicate product roadmaps. Expectation management should be adressed via content and language. Choose your words wisely when putting together a product roadmap. People will refer to it later on and roadmaps mean different things to different people…

Jeff Lash speaking on effectively communicating product roadmaps

Jeff Lash on effectively communicating product roadmaps

He recommends to always taylor roadmaps to the audience. Also, the level of detail should be adapted to the timeframe, i.e. more detailed in the short term and more general in the long term.

And most important: Roadmap milestones should describe benefits not features!

Best practice roadmap examples according to Jeff Lash

Best practice roadmap examples

Here’s his full presentation.

Rich Mironov on Agile Product Teams

Rich started out clarifying a few wording issues, e.g. a „product manager“ is not necessarily a „product owner“ as the first is a job title, the second an agile team role. They may be overlapping but include different scope and skills.

Rich Mironov speaking on what a product manager does

Rich Mironov on what a product manager does

Rich Mironov on the product manager focus vs product owner focus

Product manager focus vs product owner focus

Check out his slide deck here.

Michael Eckhardt on Crossing the Chasm

In his usual energetic way Michael brought across 7 deadly sins that prevent companies from crossing the chasm between early market products and its viable mass market version.

Michael Eckhardt on crossing the chasm

Michael Eckhardt on crossing the chasm

The 7 mistakes to avoid include:

  • Target customer mix-up
  • Compelling reason confusion
  • Whole product perfectionism
  • Overdoing sales training
  • Pricing missteps
  • Weak messaging
  • Don’t mistake vision for today’s challenges

Trevor Rotzien: 9 Insights for Product Team Leaders

Trevor had a short, yet nonetheless intriguing presentation on human factors product team leaders should adress. They revolve around fortitude, focus and finesse and include:

  1. Business thinker
  2. Team director
  3. Decisive delegator
  4. Master practitioner
  5. Clarification engine
  6. Now + future focuser
  7. Human shield
  8. Charismatic motivator
  9. Human first
Trevor Rotzien speaking

Trevor Rotzien

Here’s his illustration of those topics.

Evening Dinner Event

The dinner location at the end of day 1 was on the opposite end of the airport at the restaurant Runway 34. Given its location next to the tarmac it alludes to aeronautical topics.

Restaurant location Runway 34 at Zurich Airport

Restaurant location Runway 34 at Zurich Airport

Jock Busuttil on Reading User’s Minds

Day 2 saw an impressive presentation by Jock Busuttil on user testing. He asked the attendees to lend each other a smartphone and take a picture. What a turmoil that caused ;-)

According to Jakob Nielsen the best usability test results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.

Jock Busuttil at Product Management Festival 2014

Check out Jock’s other recommendations here.

Stefano Rizzo on Products and Social Media

Stefano brought us interesting thoughts around de-branding (see Coca Cola) and the loss of communication control in an ever more dynamic social media world. Hence the importance of including social right into the product development.

Stefano Rizzo speaking about product management and social media

Stefano Rizzo

These are his insights.

Teresa Torres on Vanity Metrics

Teresa showed how we should not argue based on vanity metrics that look good but have no impact on the business goals.

Teresa Torres speaking on how to move past vanity metrics

Teresa Torres on how to move past vanity metrics

Her showcase of an improved job board for college students goes like this.

Ken Norton on Making New Mistakes

The closing keynote was by Ken Norton of Google Ventures. I posted about this impressive talk here.

Ken Norton speaking on how to make new mistakes.

Ken Norton on how to make new mistakes.

Not a bad audience for the last presentation of a 2-day conference… congrats!


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Walter Schärer bloggt über neuste Internet-Trends im Online Marketing, Social Media, Blogs, Web Analytics, SEO, Mobile und so.

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