Our Favorite Moments From ProductCon 2022

Recently, we partnered with Product School to bring more insights and learning opportunities to ProductCon 2022, the world’s largest product management conference. Held virtually via the Hopin platform, over 20,000 product people attended from all over the globe. In addition to the event’s main stage sessions, we hosted five of our own sessions in the Dragonboat expo booth, including a keynote featuring Melissa Perri. We also held expert Q&A sessions and panel discussions on a wide variety of topics ranging from product ops to responsive product portfolio management

Didn’t get to attend? Here’s a recap of our favorite moments from ProductCon 2022!

1. The Good Vibes From DJ Will Gill

DJ Will Gill, who was named the #1 virtual event DJ by Wall Street Journal, proved that just because an event is virtual doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun! From the beginning of the day and all throughout, conference-goers could take a break from the action and enter the DJ booth where he played fun, upbeat songs that made you want to get up and dance. This positive energy and good vibes definitely helped to set the tone for the event and make it a more fun experience for everyone tuning in from home or the office. 

2. Chris Butler and Becky Flint’s Chat About Kicking Off Product Ops in 2022

Our first Dragonboat Expo session centered around one of our favorite roles in product: product ops. Continuing the discussion from a recent chat on kicking off product ops, Chris Butler, Global Head of Product Operations at Cognizant, joined our CEO, Becky Flint, to take live questions from the audience about product operations.

They answered questions such as:

  • How do you prioritize when just getting started with product ops?
  • Does the expectation/ role of product operations evolve as the company evolves? 
  • What is the right path into product operations?
  • What is the ratio of product management to product operations people/teams at your company?

Watch the Full Session Below:

3. Melissa Perri’s Keynote Live From an Actual “Build Trap”

Following the session with Chris Butler, the one and only Melissa Perri, ProduxLabs CEO and bestselling author of “Escaping the Build Trap” joined our booth from her very own “build trap!” As you can see, Melissa’s been busy, not only building products but perhaps a new workspace as well!

During her session on building an outcome-focused strategy, Melissa shared a wealth of insights from her views on what it means to be outcome-focused, the importance of the CPO role, how to advocate for product ops, core tools for product management, and much more.

One of our favorite takeaways from her session was her explanation of the difference between outputs and outcomes: 

One of the big misconceptions I think people don’t understand is that yes, you need outputs to get to outcomes. So we can’t forget about the outputs. But the whole idea about outcome focused product management is that the outputs are a means to an end. They produce an outcome. If you’re not keeping your eye on what you’re trying to achieve, it’s really easy to get into the trap of just building and building and building.

So outcome product management is really about understanding deeply what the business goals are. How can you achieve them through helping your customers achieve their goals? Then, how can you tie the strategy together while monitoring if you’re reaching your outcomes? How close are you in achieving your strategy? How far? What do you need to do to get to the next level? That’s really where outcome-focused product management goes from.”

Melissa Perri, CEO, ProduxLabs

When discussing the role of a product manager, Melissa Perri shared:

“Product management is about really optimizing this value creation system, which is that you’ve got customers on one side that need customer value and businesses that provide the value to the customers through products and services. As product managers, we need to figure out how to optimize both pieces of that. How do we maximize customer value, and in return get business value? To do that, you need to have a really deep understanding of your customers. You have to be very aligned on your business goals and tracking towards them. You have to have really tight feedback loops to understand what’s going on.”

Melissa Perri, CEO, ProduxLabs

Last but not least, having just joined our Board of Advisors, Melissa Perri explained why she is excited about Dragonboat’s product portfolio management platform:

Watch the Full Session Below:

4. Jackie Orlando’s Tips for Building Product Ops

How do you build product ops from scratch? For many newly hired Product Ops Directors, this is the million-dollar question.

Jackie Orlando, Director of Product Ops at Tealium, shared her journey of building product ops from the ground up and partnering with Dragonboat for Tealium’s product portfolio management needs. 

Here are some of Jackie’s best tips for getting started with product ops:

  • Don’t take on too much at once, focus on your burning problems to solve first instead of boiling the ocean.
  • Work with your leadership to identify the big rock problems you want to solve first and prioritize them, and then tackle one thing at a time. 
  • Try not to introduce too many tools at once and try not to have multiple tools that solve the same problem.
  • Don’t be afraid to evolve your team charter over time. As you go, your areas of focus are going to mature along with your team. 

Jackie realized she needed the right tooling to help her:

  • Create a single source of truth
  • Enable smarter outcome-based decisions
  • Enhance visibility
  • Streamline status updates
  • Increase cross-functional transparency

The search for this kind of solution led her to Dragonboat. 

“Dragonboat was the only solution I could find that actually focused on the outcome-based decision element. Allowing us to tie our feature ideas directly to our company OKRs and product objectives, which then tied into our ability to slice and dice things and create reports that give senior leadership visibility into where their investments are being made across the org.”

Jackie Orlando, Director of Product Ops, Tealium

Jackie’s views on the importance of product ops and its purpose of generating a single source of truth for the product org echoed what Melissa Perri touched upon in her session:

“The time it takes to figure out ‘Is this the right decision?’ is usually what slows down organizations. If you can’t make a decision, you can’t build something, you can’t get it out there, you don’t make money. So that’s where product operations becomes really important. It makes that go faster.”

Melissa Perri, CEO, ProduxLabs

Watch the Full Session Below:

5. Product Manager Mavens Explaining How They Make Difficult Trade-Off Decisions

After Jackie’s session, we were joined by Raz Carcoana, Senior Product Manager, Pie Insurance, Dalia Vazquez, PM consultant, and our new VP of Product, Tijana Dwight, for a lively discussion related to the changes and trends to watch for product managers in 2022. 

The audience asked, “How do you go about making difficult tradeoff decisions?

Raz first replied, acknowledging that thinking about where to spend one’s time and resources to make the greatest impact is one of the most challenging parts of being a product manager. He explained, “Until you do it, you can’t measure it. And if you can’t measure it, you don’t know if it’s working or not. And so, you have to put your best foot forward.”  He continued, 

“At the end of the day, it comes down to stakeholder alignment and getting everybody to execute at the same time. What you want is everybody on that page, rather than a lot of friction and disagreement.”

Raz Carcoana, Senior Product Manager, Pie Insurance

He clarified that disagreement isn’t bad, it’s part of having a dialogue which is always needed before picking a new direction.  

Dalia Vazquez agreed and added,

“Fail fast! Everyone’s always looking for a magic wand or Wonder Woman’s bracelet. But the reality is, if you work at a startup or small company, everything is a fire. Everyone will tell you, “This is important”. But I’ve found that creating a source-of-truth helps reduce politics, conflict, etc. We ” 

Dalia Vazquez, Product Management Consultant

Watch the Full Session Below:

6. Learning When Product Portfolio Management Becomes Essential

During our last session of the day, Becky Flint was joined by Rachel Weston Rowell, SVP Product & Innovation, Insight Partners to discuss why product leaders should level up from product management to product portfolio management.

They explained that portfolio management is about how to evaluate and allocate various investment options based on desired outcomes. Even if you have one product, treat it as a portfolio, since most products will have multiple components, segments, goals, etc. For outcome-focused product teams, applying the responsive product portfolio management approach means they can adjust desired outcomes periodically, based on the state of the market and business.

Rachel and Becky go on to explain that if you are running multi-quarter, multi-team initiatives, it’s time to adopt a portfolio approach. Here are some of the signs that product portfolio management is the right fit:

  • Scaling R&D
  • Multiple teams
  • Dependencies
  • Competing goals

When asked about how product management and product portfolio management differ, they shared this slide which paints a helpful picture:

Want to learn more about responsive product portfolio management? Get a Dragonboat demo.

Watch the Full Session Below:

7. “I see an elephant”   

Last but not least, here is one more of our favorite soundbites from the day!

When it comes to product management, metaphors and analogies about the role are a dime a dozen. (Especially if you’re on Twitter!) However, Dalia shared her own product management metaphor which doesn’t disappoint:

“It’s like that picture of all the blind men, touching the different parts of the elephant, and they’re all trying to describe it. And the leg, the trunk, everything is important, but the product manager is standing over here like, ‘Y’all are touching only one part of the whole picture. I can see the entirety of it.’

And that’s how I see product management and product development. I see it as an elephant, constantly.

Dalia Vazquez, Product Management Consultant

Thanks to everyone who visited our booth, we were blown away by the positive response to our sessions, the interactions we enjoyed with you, the thought-provoking questions you asked, and so much more!

Congrats to our raffle prize winner, Matt DiBari, Chief Product Officer at SpotHero, who will receive our “Ultimate Work from Home Bundle”!

Don’t miss out on our upcoming events, subscribe to our newsletter in the footer of our website to receive all of our event-related updates!

Did you go to ProductCon? What was your favorite part? Let us know!

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Kalei White

Senior Marketing Manager and Team Rower at Dragonboat
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