Saturday morning in Austin, Texas started out rainy, cold and dreary. However, once I stepped foot into to the AT&T Conference Center at the University of Texas for Product Camp Austin 6, it was clear it was going to be a great day nonetheless. More than 400 product management and product marketing pros had braved the weather for ProductCamp. I saw familiar faces from this volunteer-run organization including Mark Suchanek, Colleen Heubaum, Melissa Muckenthaler and Mike Boudreaux. I also had the pleasure of meeting new attendees and by the opening session at least 3/4 of the attendees were first-timers.
There is simply no other group out there quite ProductCamp. It’s always inspiring is to see hundreds of people who work as Product Managers and Product Marketers spend a Saturday to come together with their peers and share best practices, case studies and tips.
One of the most exciting features of this “un-conference” is there is no set agenda. The topics are posted on a wall and attendees vote for the sessions they want to see. While not all proposed topics make the cut, within the first hour the agenda is set and attendees scramble to decide which sessions to participate in.
Faced with this challenge myself, I opted for Jose Briones’ session, “Quantifying Uncertainty in Innovation Project Management”. I met Jose last year at the Open Innovation Summit in Chicago and was familiar with his work on “Beyond Stage-Gate — A New Approach to Innovation”. You can find him on Twitter here: @brioneja.
Nothing like a little controversy to stir the pot! Jose’s content was very refreshing and well thought out. The foundation of his argument is that Stage-Gate is a linear process that works well for incremental innovations and product enhancements, but for truly disruptive and highly impactful innovation, he recommends a different approach.
His session was an open discussion, and he walked the group through how a Probabilistic Decision Analysis can be used in the management of innovation projects with high levels of uncertainty. Probabilistic decision analysis, when combined with the right management processes like Discovery-Driven Planning is a highly effective approach to evaluating and managing the risk and potential of product innovation projects. He used a case study from the company just about everyone holds up as an innovation model, Apple, with a focus on the iPad. It was definitely not a 101-type of session, but one much deeper that really got me thinking.
We all know the Stage-Gate path, and recognize the value it can drive as well as the investments that large product development organizations have made in that well-established process. Jose’s presentation of a fresh perspective, with a three-dimensional approach to innovation management — the Spiro-Level™ 3D Approach to Innovation — is definitely something to consider. Rather than steal Jose’s thunder I invite you to check out his presentation on Slide Share.
If you’re interested in innovation, better product management and marketing, I strongly encourage you to participate in a Product Camp near you. Just go to the ProductCamp Web site and look for a chapter near you. If you’re in Austin, I’ll keep an eye out for you at the next ProductCamp!