Leading the Product 2016 - Conference Highlights

28 November 2016 Victoria Butt

Ltp 2016

Parity Consulting had the pleasure of being primary sponsor for Sydney’s 1st ever Product Management Conference – Leading The Product!  This conference, as well as LTP Melbourne, brought Product professionals together from around Australia to network, share ideas and listen to thought leaders from home and abroad.

Whether you were fortunate enough to join the Product communities of Sydney and Melbourne at these conferences, here are the some of the key highlights:

Cameron Adams – Canva

Life After Launch – Growing Really Great Products

  • Start-ups:

    • Creating a ‘start-up’ within a big company is challenging – start-ups need the struggle to feed their hunger!

Rule 1 – Your product must stay operational – keep the product going – can’t be stagnant

Rule 2 – Stick to your guns!

  • Canva – Online design platform that anyone to use:

    • 15 million users

    • 13 languages

  • The success of Canva can be attributed to:

    • Diversity of the team – small teams with shared goals;

    • Design;

    • Engineering;

    • Product experience.

  • Always have to stick to AARRR:

    • A
    • A
    • R
    • R
    • R
  • ICE Method – Quick way to sort the strong from the weak:

    • I
    • C
    • E
  • 3 Key Takeaways:

  • 1. Have plans and strategies for

    – Plan should be focussed on growth and not just the launch.

  • 2. Great products are defined by how they

    – Launch day is 1% of the work, the rest of it is dealing with changes once the product is out in the market.

  • 3. Not all

    are created equal – Teams that are great for launching, are not great of growing and fine-tuning products. Play to people’s strengths!


Doug Blue – Product Director @ SEEK

Outcome Driven Innovation


  • SEEK saw an opportunity to disrupt the job classifieds space – they gained market share in Australia and then expanded globally and into the education and learning space – a new sense of urgency was born!

  • What did SEEK have to ask themselves when looking to disrupt and innovate – the Strategic Cascade:

    • What are our high level goals and aspirations?

    • Where in the market do we want to be?

    • How do we win?

    • What capabilities do we need to do in order to win?

    • Hence – the evolution towards outcome driven innovation.


“You should always crawl into the skin of your customer and ask why they do things”


  • Establishing areas for Innovation

    • Outcome driven innovation reduces the risk of product innovation and increases the probability of success;

    • Watch what your customers are doing with your product – interview customers;

      • Be careful how you construct questions.

    • Get teams involved and encourage contribution – solutions will arise from this collaboration;

  • Embed questions on an ongoing basis in order to continue to gather metrics

  • Key “don’ts”:

    • Don’t skip the qualitative research;

    • Don’t worry if clusters don’t make sense;

    • Don’t ask too many questions – users will fatigue easily;

    • Don’t forget to feed into metrics;

    • Don’t fully outsource – it is key Intellectual Property


Victoria Butt – Director @ Parity Consulting

Driving Your Product Management Career

National statistics show that only 15% of people will get their next promo – but there are ways to increase the odds.

  • You need to be actively managing your career – but how do you do this? Where do you start?

  • Most people will think about their career when:

    • a role opens up,

    • a manager leaves, or

    • there is a change in structure within the business.

  • Play to your natural strengths – this will get you further in your career.

  • Identify your development areas and work on them;

  • The key is to ask your manager for feedback on strengths developmental areas – approach it in an open and honest way – be ready for honest feedback.

  • Do the ‘job’ before you get the job!

    • What are you doing, or have done that is part of the new job description?

    • Promotions are made very easily if your skills and experience are obvious.

  • US: 

To view Victoria Butt’s speech, simply go to: Victoria Butt – Driving Your Product Management Career

Kate Claringbold – CPO @ Sidekicker

Why Evolution is Key for Startups

  • Sidekicker’s approach to the employment space:

  • Do not work on long-term roadmaps or projects – the roadmap is brief and they focus on the problems;

  • Structure is 3 engineers and a designer – as opposed to a normal product structure – be prepared to strip back and “get stuff done”!

  • How is Sidekicker revolutionising the ‘on-demand’ staffing space?

  • Crystallise thoughts in a small space, then zoom out and look at the entire product;

  • Work through and eliminate the things that don’t work – identify a single metric and focus on the main issues and eliminate the ‘defects’;

  • Invest in improving the operational processes.

  • Market Fit =

    • Engaged customers;

    • Great user ratings;

    • High return rates.


Kara DeFrias – White House Cancer Moonshot

The Managers Guide to the Caring & Feeding of Humans

  • Brand is the story people tell about your product

  • Key to Leading through INFLUENCE not through authority:

    • Empower your Team

      • Get to know why individuals come to work;

      • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations – simply be KIND and CARE!

      • Set them up for success.

    • Rally around the Cause

      • Start with the vision – create the vision and then share it!

      • Interview Stakeholders, Staff and Customers = Emotion Triangle

        • How do they feel and how do you want them to feel?

      • Most important question – “what does success look like?”

      • Agreement vs Alignment – If the team is not aligned, the team/product will fail.

    • Be Humble

      • Create a safe place – model this to your team.

      • Give yourself permission to not know everything –

        • Seek out people to help you in the areas you are not strong in;

        • Would rather work with good and passionate people – you can train technical ability, but can’t train someone to be loyal and passionate.

      • Know your tribe and build it – colleagues, ex colleagues, personal friends, confidantes, advisors.

      • Set the tone and the culture for your product.

    • Give Away the Glory

      • “I don’t shine if you don’t shine!!”

      • Look for ways to lift other people up:

        • Let someone else have the spotlight.

      • Recognise that recognition will be different for different people:

        • Newsletters, rituals, flowers, milestones, verbal, afternoon teas, etc.

        • It’s important to express thanks for efforts that go toward building a product.


Ash Donaldson – Principal Behaviour Design & Innovation Consultant @ Tobias & Tobias

Details are the Difference – the difference between Good and Great

  • There is a relentless quest for efficiency and speed:

    • Continuous growth is expected, without the unfettered access to research and development departments of the past;

    • How can new products be designed and created – through DETAILS and DESIGN.

  • How details make the difference:

    • Example of the early Eames chairs – the small details in the design made all the difference to the product;

    • It is easy to forget the details when you are focussing on the project, rather than the product itself.

  • How do you decide which details matter:

  • Talk and listen to your customers – keep users involved – we love users!

  • Find out your customers thoughts/questions/etc and share their stories – numbers are great, but not as good as stories;

  • Ensure you have time and space to reflect, research, engage, bring teams together – don’t be too busy;

  • Create personality in your product and don’t worry about pleasing all the people;

  • Design with learning in mind. You can’t predict your customer’s behaviour so work with models that you can develop and refine;

  • Experiment and keep learning.

 “To do well, we have to care about the details… after all, this is the difference between good and great.”

Jennifer Flynn – VP of Product @ Airtasker

From Start-up to Scale-up – How to Roadmap

  • One of the most important stakeholder management tools is having a great roadmap process – creates vision and a plan.

  • How do you go from a Start-up to a Scale-up?

    • Jen Flynn describes Airtaskers journey from start-up to scale-up (still in the process)

    • Roadmaps vary significantly, depending on the specific goals of the organisation;

    • In the transition, you will stop being relevant if you don’t assess information:

      • do not laminate the roadmap, it will always change, moving in the right direction.

    • Product Evolution Cycle:

  1. Launch and Product market fit

  2. Growth and Scale – strategic partnerships are key here

  3. Mass Adoption – this is where scale-up occurs and there is a need to raise the bar

    • Stick to the roadmap and achieve goals:

      • At Airtasker they created a Goal wall – if it’s not on the wall, you shouldn’t be doing it. The goals would be reassessed at a later date – some taken off, and others added.

    • The people on the journey will change:

      • There is a specific type of person who thrives in a start-up (innovative and optimistic and thriving on a lack of resources);

        • As the organisation grows to a scale-up, it naturally needs to become more corporate with structures and benchmarks in place;

        • This can be an emotional and difficult realisation for those who came in at the start-up stage – but a necessary re-evaluation.

      • Authority needs to de-volve – those at the top of the organisation, who began it all, may not be the best/most qualified to make decisions.

    • Roadmapping Blockers:

      • The micromanager – people who get stuck in the detail. Overcome this by finding out what they need to feel comfortable and keep them moving!

      • -sweeters” – easily distracted by every exciting, shiny thing. Need to gain approval from up top to stick to the original vision and get them back on track.

  •   Secret Roadmapping Tips:

    1. Goal oriented
    2. Can, will and MUST

      (otherwise you don’t notice industry changes like, for example Facebook)

    3. You have to

      so that you know what you’re doing and why

    4. Try to get into

      and encourage your team to do the same

“When used well, a roadmap is a powerful tool in a product manager’s arsenal but it’s a living thing”

Mo Khalil –  GM of Digital Banking @ CBA

Driving Sustainable Innovation


  • Startups:

    • The allure of startups – being a pioneer and doing great things with limited resources = low cost innovation.

    • Rollercoaster ride of highs and lows – funding, hiring, reality checks, troughs of sorrow, problem-solving, finding product market fit and then finally progressing to scale.

“As a startup CEO you sleep like a baby – you wake up every two hours and cry” – “There are moments where you are paddling just to survive.”


  • Startup Innovation within Big Organisations:

    • Capabilities – Ideas, Talent, Funding and Scale

    • It’s about building a sustainable innovation model – to ensure great ideas surface.

    • CANapult – streamlined approach to training and mentoring

      • Onboarding

      • Funding

      • Time

      • Pitch – 2 weeks from pitch to production

“Only one in five startups succeed to some degree. Two thirds will drastically change their plans along the way. Repeating the experience doesn’t even mean you have a guaranteed win in this space. You need effort as well as fortunate events.”

Christina Lucey – Head of Product @ brightwheel

How Your Business Model Impacts Your Business

  • A good Product Manager helps engineering go faster.

  • People are expensive, software is cheap.

  • You’re not only focused on retention and acquisition – you are focusing on growth.

  • Stages:

    • Earliest stage – Product

    • Next stage – Market

    • Best stage – Revenue

  • Premium Feature Experiment:

    • Choose carefully;

    • Prime users;

    • Discovery

    • Important – Want to make discovering features part of the Product flow

  • The Viral Loop

    • Steps a user takes before inviting another:

    • View -> Click -> Engage -> Share

  • Lessons learnt:

    • Help your sales team – do what you can to keep customer acquisition costs stay low;

    • Differentiate the Buyer from the User

    • Build viral loops to grow user base

    • Sunk costs can be powerful levers

    • Prime the buyer for a great user experience

“Evolution is all about tiny little changes being repeated over and over again, to make things better and try and find the right fit in the marketplace”

We’re not here to sell Products – our job is to create products that sell.


Lucie McLean – Head of Product @ Children’s BBC

Iterating a New Product Culture

  • How do you lead change, cultural or otherwise?

    • Consider these three questions:

      1. What can you change?

      2. What wouldn’t you change?

      3. What CAN you change? – Most important of the three!

    • Buy-in is essential, but how?

      1. Clear and simple vision and explanations;

      2. What changes are you making and why?

      3. Bringing in Internal experts – can assist in validating and justifying your actions;

      4. Once you have buy-in -> you can lead the thinking.

      5. BBC example case study – 7 Children’s Apps

        • Too many apps – costs of maintaining and updating apps;

        • Put case forward to management of declining user numbers and costs;

        • Kept only 2 of the 7 apps;

        • Focus funds and time on the remaining apps and new ideas.

  • Build a dialogue with Stakeholders

    • Help stakeholders understand – development of processes;

    • Use – Images, Examples, Analogies;

    • Mind your language – it can build bridges, but it can also build barriers;

    • Build trust in data – start with easy, user-friendly data that is easy to share and understand;

    •  nice!

  • Business cases are ‘broken’:

    • Need to re-write business cases;

    • Not feasible to present ready-made solutions – instead, focus on the ‘journey’;

  • Business case of the future:

    • Product visions

    • Capabilities

    • Objectives and outcomes

    • Team clout


Dan Olsen – Author of The Lean Product Playbook

How to Lead Customer Value Creation

  • How do companies make money?

      • Create value – who at your company creatures value for customers?

  • Problem Space vs Solution Space

    • Questions to ask –

      • How important are the user needs?

      • How satisfied are customers with the current alternatives?

      • Where do opportunities lie in a competitive market?

      • What is your value proposition?

      • Which benefits are you providing?

      • How are you better than your competitor?

      • Find out what ‘they’ know about you – compare yourself to others.


Damon Pezaro – CPO @ Domain Group

Breaking the Status Quo

  • The “New Breed of Business”:

    • 52% of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared;

    • The ‘Law of Accelerated Return’ – the periods of change are getting shorter, and as we advance, we are making change happen quicker;

    • It’s important for businesses to find a way to stand out and “cut through the noise”;

      • Do what others are not doing – be experimental!

      • Comparison between a chef and a cook – one follows a recipe, whilst the other is constantly experimenting and creating. Domain had to adapt to the mentality of a chef – be creative, or they would disappear;

      • Everyone must understand the vision and the role they play – Product Culture:

        • Peers, Customers, Brand, Product

      • Spend REAL time understanding customers:

        • What value are you adding to customers?

        • How do you know and measure this value?

        • Is there anything you can deliver to customers now for greater value?

      • Create a ‘Recipe’ for the business:

        • Vision
        • Customer Focused
        • Culture
        • Story-Telling
        • Innovation
        • Process

Don’t copy what others are doing just because the competition is doing it – be unique.