Event Recap: Managing Products Sydney

Adrienne Tan

Managing Products Sydney was held this week, showcasing three awesome Product leaders: Jen Flynn, Mick Johnson and Cameron Adams.

Born out of collaboration between Canva and Tech Sydney, it was billed as a community event for Product Managers, tackling some of the toughest issues faced in Product Management in high growth startups.

This blog is a brief recap of the takeouts that stood out for me.

Cameron Adams, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Canva

Managing Products Sydney - Cameron Adams

Cameron had six tips for Product Managers on what to do and how to do it:

  1. Be a great editor. You won’t always have the answers, but as the Product Manager it’s your job to listen to the experts in the team, take their learnings and help push them to greater heights.
  2. Do it low fidelity… any fidelity! As development progresses, costs to develop are escalate fast. Make sure you start and test at low fidelity and figure out if it works early. Sketching and paper collages are often used at Canva.
  3. Different Products, Different teams. When you’re building anything, look around you and see who has both the skills and the passion that match the product ambition.
  4. Harness your naiveté. Help bring perspective to any situation by asking questions.
  5. Hack, and hack a lot. The fast way to do things, is often the right way to do things. Don’t agonise over creating technical debt.
  6. Build trust. This is the most important point. Your team can’t function well without it. Empathy is one way to build trust

Mick Johnson, CEO, Lexy

Managing Products Sydney - Mick Johnson

Mick made the case that small teams can build universal Products. So what does that mean?

Mick explained we’re living in the era of Product, where amazing new Products can be built on the shoulders of giants. Excellent components exist for everything from infrastructure to payments, mapping and beyond. Entrepreneurs only need to build the piece that’s new.

That means small teams are now well placed to create universal Products, defined as an exceptional solution to a universal need.

Managing Products Sydney - small teams hypothesis

And it’s already happening, take Facebook and WhatsApp for example. Mick showed users per developer numbers to demonstrate this point. Facebook for Android has 10,000,000 users to each developer, and WhatsApp has 17,000,000 users per developer.

So, it’s Mick’s ambition to keep the Lexy team small.

Jen Flynn, VP of Product, Airtasker

Managing Products Sydney - Jen Flynn

What’s the difference between greenfield Product development and Product improvements?

Jen Flynn used the business model canvas to make the distinction.

If the business model doesn’t change as a result of the work, you’re likely working on an improvement.

If the business model has changed, then you could be in greenfield.

The Airtasker approach to greenfield opportunities is to focus on the 10 year vision, while always working from first principles. Following competitors won’t take you to greenfield.

Adrienne Tan

Adrienne Tan | Author

Adrienne is Co-Founder and CEO of Brainmates and Co-Founder of Leading the Product. She has been championing Product Management since 2000, earning international recognition for raising the profile of the Product Management profession. In this capacity she regularly consults to the Asia-Pacific's top businesses and speaks at business and Product events around the world.

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