ProductCamp: the unconference of product people, by product people, for product people

11th March 2019

If you are reading this you’re probably interested or involved in building products. You’ll also know creating something customers will love is hard and as product people there is a lot of uncertainty in everything we do. There is no silver bullet to solve every product problem and we all have different approaches, often learned through trial and error.

That’s why the team from Product Tank Bristol is bringing the ProductCamp unconference to the South West – to enablesupport the community to learn from each other and create an open forum to collectively develop our product thinking further.

What is ProductCamp?

ProductCamp is a free, user-driven, collaborative unconference for product managers and anyone else involved in building products. It started in Silicon Valley in 2008 and has since been brought to major cities across the world by local product communities. On 16th March at the Apex Hotel in Bath, around 100 people will be gathering with curiosity, generosity, and an open mind in sharing ideas around building brilliant tech products.

Unconference?!

An unconference is a pretty unique experience where the agenda and content is set by those who attend, right on the morning of the event. There are no keynote speakers, workshop teachers or outside coaches, but instead an open environment where everyone who attends can contribute, ask questions and get help from other attendees in an array of formats, from talks, discussions to show and tells.

If you have been stuck on a particular problem or want to develop your product thinking this is a perfect opportunity to learn the methods and frameworks other people use to tackle their challenges. It’s the ultimate safe space to share ideas.

What can I expect?

While generally product people are used to a bit of ambiguity we like to be prepared too – so here’s how it works:

The day will start by meeting your fellow product attendees. There will be an empty agenda of ~30min slots on the wall where you can stick up post its with themes or questions you’d like to see discussed (…of course there was always going to be post its…).

Have you always wanted to know how other people approach prototyping or measure engagement on their product? Or maybe you are stuck on something with your product and could do with some advice. Now’s your chance to ask!

The rooms at ProductCamp will be filled with the best product people in the area so come prepared with the questions you want to be answered.

How can I lead a session?

Anyone at the event can contribute to any one or more of the following formats. Here are our top tips on leading a session:

Lightning talk – share your experience, tips, stories in a 5-15min lightning talk to kick off the conversation then take some questions at the end. Think about pace, using the space and perhaps use a flipchart to illustrate key points. This is a great format if you have a clear, well-developed idea.

Roundtable – lead a discussion around a particular topic. You need to be prepared to start the discussion off with a good story and then moderate the conversation around the room. If it starts to digress make sure to bring it back on track and also ensure everyone gets the opportunity to speak.

Big question – Start by asking a particular question then allow the group to discuss possible answers. This is very similar to a roundtable but with a lot more focus. Again, you need to give some context to the question to kick things off and then be prepared to moderate.

Show and tell – If you have a process, a product demo or some user research that you are able to share this makes for a great session. Everyone loves to see how others work and it’s one of the best ways to learn. Include what went wrong as well as what went well. Make sure you’ve got enough that isn’t confidential so that you can really take people through in detail. And remember no sales pitches!

Lightning workshop (learn how to x) – if there is a technique you regularly use and want to share with others this can be a great interactive session. Learning by doing is far more effective than listening to a lecture, so try to take the room through the process rather than just explaining it. Ask the organisers if you need materials e.g. post its and sharpies.

Making the most of the day

  • Follow your passion – attend the sessions that interest you and if you came with a question in mind don’t be afraid to share it.
  • A beginners mindset – don’t assume you’ll know more or less than others in the room there is always something new to learn.
  • Learn by doingthe more you involve yourself the more you’ll take away from the day, so be responsible for your own learning and get stuck in!

This sounds great – how much does it cost?

Absolutely free! Thanks to our generous sponsors Cookpad, Adlib, ProdPad and UXBristol

Who is ProductCamp for?

  • Product managers
  • Product owners
  • Founders, CEOs
  • Engineers / tech leads / technical architects
  • Designers
  • User experience professionals
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about this area

If that sounds like you, please check out more on our website; https://productcampbristolbath.co.uk

 

Philip is a product & technology leader with a passion for empowering teams around scientific, outcome-driven product development. He is currently focusing on solving the complex problems around everyday cooking on Cookpad’s global product, using a build, test, repeat methodology.