Thoughts on the Product Management Festival 2017 #pmf17

Tim Herbig at Product Management Festival 2017
Photo was taken by Product Management Festival 2017 Team

I had the incredible opportunity to speak at this year’s Product Management Festival 2017 in Zurich, Switzerland last week.
While I will share the summary and slides of my talk over the next coming weeks, I briefly wanted to touch on some of the aspects of the event I was able to experience (unfortunately, I had to leave at the end of the first day).

Speaker’s Dinner

Beautiful location at the Lake Zurich which was a breeze to reach. The standing table setting allowed for a nice mix of conversations but also prevented a closer atmosphere amongst the speakers.
Nevertheless, it was a convenient way to talk to fellow speakers and get a first impression for the quality benchmark of the upcoming talks.

The Venue

Picking a cinema allows for great stages with plenty of room to present on – But also huge audiences waiting for entertainment. The entry hall was perfectly morphed into a Product Management fair.

It was a bit odd that the regular cinema business continued during the afternoon, but I guess that’s hard to avoid if you don’t want to block the whole building when only half of it is needed.

The ‘Papiersaal’ location right next to the cinema grew close to me. I like the intimate atmosphere you were able to experience there, which was perfect for the AMA sessions. Also, the food seemed to be significantly better over there. 😉

The Talks

Personally, I’m not a fan of those split-up tracks which run talks in parallel. Not only because of the competitive pressure you (or at least I) experiences as a speaker, but also because I think attendees shouldn’t be forced to chose and it creates kind of a two-tier society within the society.
A pretty good way to accommodate this setup though was the opportunity to pitch your talk at the beginning of every session. I liked that a lot, and it helped form a speaker’s and attendee perspective.

Nevertheless, I think I mad the most of out of my remaining time at the conference after my (early) speaking slot. Here are my four favorites from that day:

Ram Papatla – Unconventional Product Innovation, for the Next Billion Customers!
No new insights from a product craft perspective (understand your users, apply machine learning gradually, serve compressed images in low bandwidth areas, etc.), but fascinating to hear from a product operating in such a unique market.

Daniel Strazzulla – Drowning in Feedback? How to Instrumentalize Customer Intelligence to Facilitate Strategic Decision Making
Particularly interesting for me, as Daniel shared great insights into how to structure user insights best in a SaaS environment, in which you’ll receive input from sales, customer support and direct clients. For everybody facing a similar challenge, I can now recommend NomNom.

Ask Me Anything with Mina Radhakrishnan
I was kind of skeptic how valuable those AMA sessions would be, but listening to proven product and business leaders like Mina in a more relaxed and casual environment than the big conference stage was a great experience.

David Pier – Balancing Heuristics and Data
Building a product which aims to help optimizers succeed, it was valuable to hear a hands-on story from someone like David about how gut feeling and focus on real customer success can support the prioritization of testing ideas and features to improve on.

Gregor put together an excellent summary of his overall takeaways from all the talks which were held at #pmf17:

Product Management Festival 2017 Key Takeaways

Should you attend Product Management Festival 2018?

As always, the answer begins with ‘it depends.’ If you haven’t been there and look for a new addition to your conference schedule, I think it’s a definite yes.
The conference has grown a lot, and I was pleasantly surprised by the average quality of talks I’ve seen at this scale (750 attendees).
It’s fair to assume that the conference continues to grow and will feature similarly impressive headline keynotes next year.

If you’ve been there already, you might think twice after the lineup has been published. After all, it depends on your personal learning goals for the year.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to speak at a Product Management conference, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s a great experience!