Last week in Cleveland, more than 1,200 attendees showed up at the Cleveland Public Auditorium to talk product.
For three days, the conference was buzzing with an all-star lineup of product managers, leaders, and luminaries from over 30 countries discussing the latest methods, tools, and frameworks to build, launch, and scale software products.
Alpha was on-site in full force, welcoming conference attendees at our booth to chat about important topics like consumer insights, idea validation, and building test and learn cultures. In fact, we loved Industry Global so much that we couldn’t contain our presence to just one booth. Right next to us, This is Product Management host Mike Fishbein was on-hand to meet and talk to former podcast guests and fans alike.
A few of us on the Alpha team made the trek to Cleveland, myself included, and we hit the ground running, attending workshops, breakout sessions, and key discussions on everything from A/B testing and design sprints to customer-centricity and building distributed teams.
We all came away with our own highlights and lessons learned over the course of three days. After comparing notes, I’ve compiled five takeaways from our favorite sessions that I hope aspiring and current product consultants, managers, or their teams will find useful:
- Product teams, facing enormous pressure to make faster decisions about their products, need to work more collaboratively with cross-functional teams to get access to consumer research and insights.
- Data was a major theme and talking point throughout the conference’s sessions, but the conversations in Cleveland offered clarity and a more nuanced definition around data. It’s about data fluency, not data deluge. Product owners don’t need more data, they need the right data that drives them towards the right decisions.
- Experimentation principles like A/B testing appeared a lot on the conference schedule, and Lindsay Brothers, Product Manager at Indeed, gave a masterclass on A/B testing, sharing the company’s testing process for emails to potential job seekers and also exploring some common pitfalls she sees. Mosts tests, she explained, fail. Be sure to focus on your metrics, test minor enhancements over major, and avoid changing too many variables at once.
- Bob Moesta, CEO of The ReWired Group, piggybacked on the concept of testing pitfalls. His keynote centered on the five skills that innovators need, one of which being ‘prototyping to learn.’ As part of that, he says innovators need to explore possibilities outside of A/B testing when it comes to prototyping. A/B testing has its shortcomings, he said, because while it may tell you that people prefer A to B (or vice versa), it doesn’t do a good enough job telling you why people preferred one over the other.
- Common took the stage for a keynote and filled the room with candor about his background, career struggles, and creative process. He notes that he vigilantly seeks feedback from his trusted circle on ideas, because they’re not afraid to be honest with him about what works (or doesn’t). But, at the same time, he stressed soliciting opinions from people you don’t normally tap. Often times, this can lead to negative feedback — and yes, sometimes failure — but that only serves to make you, your business, or your product stronger. “People should be brave enough to take a leap and dare to fall,” he said.