Monthly Archives: February 2012

Add value or get out of the way!

By Saeed Khan

One question that came up at ProductCamp Austin, and that comes up often in discussions about Product Management responsibilities, is how to manage (and deliver) on all the demands made on product managers and product marketers.

I have a simple rule that I follow, and have followed for a long time.

If I’m not adding value to a situation or process, then I have no business being a part of that situation or process.

I can observe of course, but I should not be an active participant.

As an example, during my first month at a new job, someone from Engineering came up to me and asked me to get the latest version of HP-UX as Engineering had some work that needed that latest version.

I looked at the person, and said, “Why are you asking me?”

He said, matter of factly, “Oh. The product manager before you used to deal with all this and get us 3rd party software.”

I responded, “OK. That may have been what the previous product manager did, but that’s not my responsibility. You should be able to get that directly from HP without my help.”

The conversation ended and I don’t recall ever being asked for new OS versions again.

While a minor incident, this example is repeated far too often by people who, just wanting to help, or not knowing how to say “No”, acquiesce to tasks where they simply add no value. It’s time wasted that could be spent on more productive work.

Don’t confuse process with progress

On the flip side, there are people who think they are adding value, but in fact more than often than not, are actually impeding progress. These are people who confuse following a process with making progress, or are simply acting as a checklist monkey.

I’ve seen people like this. They send lots of emails, schedule lots of meetings, keep elaborate spreadsheets of activities, and yet, when you look back at the results of all those activities, it’s shocking how little value they’ve added overall.

  • What positive change have they made to the product or sales/marketing process?
  • Does their net contribution (i.e. minus the emails, meetings, spreadsheets etc.) “move the needle” in any significant way?
  • Or are they simply a middle-man (or woman) handing off tasks to others and making excuses when the spotlight shines on them?

Are we adding value yet?

It’s a simple question we should all ask ourselves. Are we adding value? And if so, how much? How could we improve ourselves so that we can add more value in the future.

And we need to be honest, because even the best of us has room for improvement.

  • How many customers do you speak with every month? How can you raise that number?
  • How many prospects are you in contact with (while working with Sales) every month? Is that sufficient?
  • Is your market knowledge, understanding of the buyer and competition better this quarter than it was last quarter? If not, why not?
  • How well do you enable other teams to do their jobs better every quarter? Can you do better?
  • Are you easy to work with or do you force others to bend to your way of doing things?
  • What gripes do your coworkers have about your performance? How could you improve yourself in those areas?

These are all fundamental questions we should ask ourselves. We need to be in a process of continuous improvement, and only by doing that can we continue to add value in our roles.

Saeed

Tweet this: Add value or get out of the way! http://wp.me/pXBON-3bl #prodmgmt #prodmktg #innovation #pcatx

Introducing Product Management Into an Organization – Part 2

NOTE: The following is a guest post by Shardul Mehta. If you want to submit your own guest post, click here for more information.

In my previous post, I talked about the challenges of introducing Product Management into an established organization. Here I share hard learned lessons on how to avoid common pitfalls and start laying the foundation for long-term success.

Start with why

If you’re an organization looking to bring on product management, start with the most fundamental of all questions:

Why?

Seriously, why do you really need product management? What problem are you expecting it to solve? Innovation? Improved product development processes? Better requirements writing? Writing feature lists? Being the demo guy?

The why question is critical because it sets the expectation for the value Product Management is expected to bring to the organization. It also crystallizes whether there are ways to solve the problems the organization faces through its current structure. Perhaps the existing departments could take on various Product Management functions, or could be re-structured, and appropriate processes can be developed around them to ensure continuous innovation. If this is not possible, then perhaps introducing a Product Management department does makes sense.

Prepare the organization

The fact is product management is a disruptive force, a radical change to the way the organization conducts its business. The introduction of a centralized product management department will do just that: centralize many functions that were previously diversified. Senior leadership must think carefully if this is something they want to take the organization through, and must prepare to shepherd each of the other departments through their change curves.

Who is your first hire? And where do they sit?

A senior product management individual will bring the experience and know-how to take on a more leadership role, quickly formulate the product strategy and develop a roadmap, be better able to articulate the value of product management, and when the time comes, leverage their personal network to bring in additional product management talent.

Understandably, though, the company may not have the budget to hire a seasoned executive. It may also be in more of a crisis mode where it needs someone to step in to pick up activities that are getting dropped. In either case, the company may decide to opt for a more junior product manager. The question becomes where to place this individual in the organization. Because it doesn’t make sense for this person to report to the execs, they are typically put into marketing, sales or engineering.

The dangers with this approach are well documented – they become a support role for the primary function of that department, providing content for marketing materials, doing product demos for sales, or writing requirements and project managing deliverables for engineering. No time to do the critical work of understanding market problems and formulating the product strategy.

Who to hire and where they sit are critical decisions to ensure long term success. I once worked for a company that rotated through five directors and seventeen Product Managers in just six years. A total of twenty two. Twenty two!

Ensure senior sponsorship

Ensure there is someone in a senior executive position who is willing to be the sponsor and champion for product management. I’m talking someone at the SVP+ level. In my experience, this has the greatest impact on product management’s long-term success. You need someone at that level to evangelize the value that product management brings to the organization, and provide the necessary air support when political attacks threaten to disrupt it in its formative stages.

Do you feel lucky? Well… do ya?

So far I’ve talked from the organization’s point of view. What if you’re the first product management professional into the company? The Product Management Journal has some great tips on introducing product management into a startup. I expound on those to encompass any organization:

Clarify your role
Because expectations may vary widely, it’s important to clarify your role upfront. For example, if you’re joining a startup, an enterprise with a visionary CEO, or a company with established lines of business, the CEO or line of business may want to continue to act as the product visionary and retain control over the product direction. In this case, product management may play a more tactical role, working more closely with engineering on product releases, perhaps supporting marketing and sales activities.

Clarify expectations
You need to clarify how your performance will be judged and reconcile it with the scope of the role. If you’re expected to play a more tactical role, yet deliver product innovation, or if you’re measured on the number of defects and customer complaints, yet the role is about market insight and setting the product direction, these are signs of expectations being incongruous with the role.

As stated earlier, product management is an agent of change, as it changes existing business processes and takes decision making and responsibilities away from current owners. This creates uncertainty. To the extent reasonable, talk to everyone. Understand their expectations. Share these findings with your hiring bosses to clarify expectations and the role, and ensure they are congruous. Doing this has the added benefit of helping you establish key relationships and build your credibility.

Ensure senior sponsorship
Same as discussed above, except now from the individual’s lens. Regardless of whether you are coming in as the VP or a rank-and-file product manager, be sure there is a true believer at the senior executive level.

Focus!
Look, you simply can’t do everything. If you’ve done your homework on the role and expectations fronts, identify what you think are the most pressing problems, share them with your stakeholders, gain their buy-in, and focus relentlessly on the top priorities. Lower level priorities and new problems will of course crop up, but at least you’ll either be able to fall back on the agreement you reached or have a constructive conversation on re-assessing priorities based on new realities. This gives you a much greater chance to get things done while keeping your credibility intact.

Introducing product management into an organization can be fraught with ambiguity, unreasonable expectations, and threats from every corner. But with foresight and planning, it is possible to set it up for long term success. Either way, it’s going to be roller coaster. So saddle up, buckle in, and get ready for a wild ride!

Tweet this: Introducing Product Management into an Organization  – part 2 – http://wp.me/pXBON-3aj #prodmgmt #innovation #career

Shardul Mehta is a simple product guy whose passion for great digital experiences is only exceeded by his love for chicken curry. He is the Founder of ProductCamp DC, and his blog can be found here.

Case Study – First 30 days into a New Role

By Saeed Khan

In January (Jan 10 to be exact), we published a guest post by Ninon Laforce, entitled:

A 90 Day Plan for New Product Managers.

In it, Ninon laid out concrete steps new Product Management hires should take to get up to speed and become productive contributors in their company. She structured it in 30, 60 and 90 day milestones.

That article received a LOT of traffic after it was published. It seems there’s a lot of interest in this topic.

Apparently one reader — David Crozier — took Ninon’s article to heart, applied it and then 40 days after Ninon’s post, published his own blog post about his first 30 days in his new role.

David complete 10 out of 11 of the tasks that Ninon had set out for the first 30 days. It’s great to see people not only reading our posts, but applying the lessons learned and sharing back on the Web.

I look forward to future posts from David as he reaches his 60 and 90 day milestones.

And if anyone else has applied Ninon’s advice, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment on the blog (this post or Ninon’s original) or drop us a line via our Contact Us page.

Saeed

Tweet this: Case Study — First 30 days into a New Role http://wp.me/pXBON-3aS #prodmgmt #prodmktg #career

 

Inspiration, Improvisation and Innovation in Austin

By Saeed Khan

This past weekend, I managed to attend Product Camp Austin 8! Thanks to some business I had to attend to earlier in the week in that same city, I was able to stay an extra day and learn from and network with some of Austin’s finest product people.

I saw my good friend and fellow On Product Management blogger, Prabhakar Gopalan. As usual, he was energetic, excited and full of disdain for conventional thinking.

I met Josh Duncan face-to-face for the first time. He had interviewed me last year on his blog and posted the video on his site. My initial thought: he’s much taller than I expected!

Also met with many other people including  Scott Sehlhorst, Tom Evans, Mike Boudreaux and Cindy Solomon. I’ve met Mike and Cindy before, but each just once, and neither time in Austin. As I’ve stated previously on this blog, there’s nothing like face-to-face meeting to really get to know someone or understand what they are about.

Although it’s not a huge city (population is under 1 million), the technology scene in Austin is vibrant. I’m not sure of the official count, but there were at least 250 people in the audience in the opening session. And this was not the largest ProductCamp they’ve had.

Inspiration

Attending the camp and meeting with everyone inspired me to dust off some old personal projects that have been lingering on the back burner for a while. You’ll hear about some of these later this year. But the day also inspired me to get back and blog more regularly. I have at least 3 upcoming posts in the works.

Although I didn’t have a speaking slot on the day (grumble grumble, unpublished deadlines, email snafus), I was directly referenced in various ways in at least 3 sessions that I attended. Two times it was by people who knew me, but one time it was by someone (Dori Gilbert) I had only met that morning and with whom I’d only had a 10 second exchange. I’m not sure what to say, but I was both humbled and, yes, inspired. You don’t find that level of cordiality everywhere.

My lesson and advice — get out of the building more and meet, talk, engage, interact, learn, teach, network, experience, share and deal with people face-to-face as much as you can.  You will only come out better for your efforts.

Improvisation

I want to tell you about Josh Duncan’s talk Own Your Story or Someone Else Will. Yes, you can click the link to see the slides, but I want to tell you about the talk, not the slides.

Josh was presenting at the end of day in the main auditorium. The AT&T Conference Center, where ProductCamp was held, is a nice facility. It’s new, modern, high-tech, with wall-sized projection screens, stadium seating etc. What better venue for Josh to deliver his talk. He’d prepared a top notch, visually interesting slide deck. And he’s a good speaker.

Well, Murphy’s Law struck just as Josh was setting up, the projection screen refused to work. Where his slides should have been, all we had was a floor to ceiling 20ft wide black wall. But the show must go on. So what did Josh do — with a bit of encouragement from the audience? He turned his talk into a fireside chat.

That’s how he gave most of his presentation. And you know what? It worked. Everyone learned something. He owned his story!

Innovation

Earlier in the afternoon, one of the speakers was a no-show. Too bad, as the title — A Slice of Design — sounded intriguing, and there were at least 50 people in the room patiently waiting. I was one of them.  Once it was confirmed the speaker was not around, one of the organizers came in, apologized for the no-show and suggested people go to one of the other sessions that were underway.

While a few people started to get up, someone said “Let’s get another speaker” or something like that. Prabhakar had just entered the auditorium a few seconds earlier and was standing near the front of the room. I pointed at him and said, “I want to hear him speak!”.  It seems like everyone knew Prabhakar there, and soon others joined in, encouraging him to give a talk, completely on the fly.

He accepted the challenge, took a few seconds to compose himself and then gave an impassioned talk on the future of Innovation. Here are a couple of tweets from the audience.

And here’s a picture of him in action. No slides, no prepared notes, but lots of great ideas and  A LOT of audience discussion!

And did I mention that at the end of the day, his talk — impromptu as it was — was voted best of the day? That’s what an “unconference” is about!

I’ll end it there, still inspired as I am, and I hope that I inspired you a bit. Where ever you are, whatever role or job you have, if you’re reading this blog, realize that obstacles in your path are simply there to help you think and find creative solutions to problems.

Get out, meet people, learn from them, teach them and leave each other inspired to do great things.

Saeed

Tweet this: Inspiration, Improvisation and Innovation in Austin http://wp.me/pXBON-3au #prodmgmt #innovation #pcatx

Gillette, Innovation, Big Bets and Software

I was talking to a senior partner at a leading consulting firm today and our conversation sparked this post.  The gist of the conversation was, our consultant opined that a) Gillette was the one of most innovative firms, b)  Managers at Gillette made big bets, including a $200M R&D (author’s note: that led to its Sensor razor introduction in 1989) and c)  big bets power corporate growth.

I spent some time thinking about this.  Is Gillette truly an innovative company?  I never thought Gillette was innovative.  Yes, they got acquired by P&G for a ginormous amount a few years back, but how does adding an extra blade wet or dry, to the razor each year in a near monopoly for shaving facial hair or your armpits really qualify someone as very innovative?  I mean, with all due respect to the R&D talent and management consultant power behind Gillette, it is a company that came up with the Mach3 that was proposed in SNL 1975!

Then, leaving my intuition aside, I searched for what some leading thinkers have to say.  Jim Moran from LEK Consulting has a great post on the subject of big bets, which supports most people’s common sense – “the bigger you are the harder you fall”.  His post Can Gillette Disrupt Itself?  is an excellent exposition of the innovator’s dilemma waiting to happen.

Next I looked at who could be these ‘good enough’ competitors that enter the market for razors way down in the bottom and ultimately displace Gillette.  I found one interesting competitor, the King of Shaves Company based in the UK that is doing exactly that.  This post in The Telegraph gives a balanced view of the subject.

I took another turn and looked at what other Gillette studies are around.  There were quite a few consultant sponsored studies and papers (which do not disclose the principal-client relationship at all) that provided old wine in new bottle models of BCG’s growth share matrix redefined in a granular segment level analysis of premium versus commodity segments.

Yet, all of this fuzz aside, I had three questions in my head: 1) do innovations like blade additions to razors at the expense of huge R&D and marketing costs in near monopoly markets belong in the pantheon of innovations? is there a qualitative/quantitative way to measure these innovations besides the companies own marketing press paid or otherwise 2) Can big bets power corporate growth now and in the future?  3) can the software industry, startup/lean/cloud software that is built on experiments and validating hypotheses continuously in a rapid iterative way, in particular, teach a new way to think about strategy to other industries and by extension big firm consultants?

I will provide my thoughts on all three sets of questions over the next few posts.  We invite readers of OnPM to join the conversation and tell us what you think.  Please comment!  Thank you.

I’ll close out this post with a quote from Gary Hamel on Gillette:

Gillette presents the classic example of innovation as product extension. Gillette used to make razors with one blade, then it made them with two blades, and now it has razors with three blades. That is the all-too-typical view of innovation. And there is nothing wrong with it, except at some point adding another blade is not going to make a substantial difference to how customers perceive the product. More important, this narrow view of innovation is very unlikely to create new markets and new wealth. In today’s economy, it is only radical innovation that will lead to significant growth.

-Prabhakar Gopalan

Book Review: Beyond the Obvious

beyond the ObviousBeyond the Obvious
Phil McKinney
Hyperion, 2012
250 pages

Subtitled “Killer questions that spark game-changing innovation”, McKinney’s new book (released last week) is combination of personal experience in building new products as HP’s CTO and a framework for how he approaches the problem of trying to identify new business opportunities.

“Innovation” might be the one-word summary of 21st century business. That said, I hate the word. Governments are always dropping “innovation” into every announcement they make and CEOs all genuflect at the altar of “innovation.” Innovation is the panacea that will solve every problem – costs will go down, customers will throw themselves into your arms and the person that came up with the great breakthrough will be the next Steve Wozniak and Sergey Brin combined.

The trouble is that most people hate new ideas and actively work against them. Innovation is something most people like to have happened in the past. Real innovation is a process that’s not only messy, it’s painful. The outcome of real innovation in the short term is that people lose their jobs, that products people have spent their life building become obsolete and that individuals’ power is disrupted. In the long term, real innovation creates more value than it destroys and lets people move on to more important things. But people don’t always see it that way.

So what is McKinney’s approach to uncovering innovative new ideas? The first is dealing with what he calls “organizational antibodies” whose job it is to kill anything that threatens the status quo. The second is to ask what he calls “killer questions.”

I think McKinney has a solid approach – you should read the book and hear it from him yourself. This is definitely a practitioner’s book. It’s not an academic text like The Innovator’s Dilemmaby Clayton Christensen or Winning at New Products: Creating Value Through Innovation by Robert Cooper. McKinney references Cooper’s stage-gate process but doesn’t go into a lot of detail about exactly how to structure it beyond using an escalating system of commitment to allocate more resources to a project as it achieves development milestones.

Definitely read Cooper’s book if you want more detail on implementing stage-gate. My personal experience with it is that you have to be careful – if you take Cooper’s process too literally you’ll have a few dozen meetings before an idea gets anywhere near turning into a real product. But the fundamental principle is unarguable – start small. “MVP” as start-ups call it these days, the minimum viable product. This is McKinney’s approach as well.

How applicable is this book for the average product manager that’s tasked with keeping a single product on track? McKinney addresses this in the book. Innovation can and should come from anywhere. Even when the VP of Product Management or the CTO or the CEO has the formal responsibility for coming up with new ideas, anyone who sees an opportunity should work to make it happen. And don’t feel like the “organization antibodies” are out for you in particular – they’ll attack anyone, even the CEO. McKinney goes over the common arguments put forward by the antibodies like “You’ll never get approval” or “Not enough return on investment” and how to counter these arguments. Great stuff.

Now, to comment on the title for a second, I personally suggest not discounting the obvious. Sometimes doing the obvious thing is not very easy and people will even resist that. For example, it’s taken years for the mantra of “performance is a feature” to be widely accepted by developers because building systems for high performance isn’t easy. But at Google, where latency is practically a religion, they have lots of data showing that response time is the one feature that users value over nearly everything else. And it’s not like speed is a particularly insightful observation. It’s just a lot of hard work to make happen. So while innovators do need to look “beyond the obvious,” don’t overlook the obvious either.

For the “Killer Questions”, McKinney divides them into Who, What and How questions. Like “Who is passionate about my product?”, “What emotional or status benefits could people derive from using my product?” and “What is the process used by the customer to discover my product?” (a “How” question). Now some of these questions have a consumer products bias to them, which isn’t surprising that McKinney developed many of them working at HP’s consumer product division but many still have applicability to other industry segments like enterprise products. McKinney dives into examples of using each of these questions and what insights it generated.

One question that I think should be on every product manager’s mind these days, especially software product managers is “Can someone give my product away for free?” Twice in my career I’ve seen situations where a once-viable product category simply disappeared. JProbe, a great tool for Java performance analysis, ended up competing with free tools built into the developer tools that were given away by platform vendors. PowerRecon, a virtualization capacity planning tool, had great features but ultimately had to compete with a free tool from VMware that it was using as part of its pre-sales process. If you’re part of a big company with lots of products then having a limited product lifespan is fine as long as everything in the overall portfolio fits together. But when you’re a small company, having competitors priced at zero dollars will be tough to beat. Think about how you can take your product into a different market segment where the price competition is less intense, even if other competitive pressures are stronger. As a wise PM once told me, “If there’s no competitors it’s probably because there’s no market.”

Overall “Beyond the Obvious” lives up to its name, delivering insights into how to structure a process around innovation. It’s inspirational for product managers through anecdotes of product development at HP while also being a practical guide on how to make innovation happen. Check out Phil’s tweets at @killerquestion and his blog at philmckinney.com.

Thanks to Jon Bernstein at Hyperion who sent me a copy of the book to review.

The Cost of Making Wrong Decisions

Note: This is a guest post by Fred Engel. If you want to submit your own guest post, click here for more information.

Being wrong bothers most people. In fact, we all work pretty hard to avoid being wrong.  But we often are faced with so many decisions that it is hard to put the time into each of them to be sure that we are making only good decisions and no bad decisions.

Not all decisions are worth the same amount of effort.  Some decisions have so few side-effects that being wrong really does not matter.We are often so personally invested work that to knowingly allow some things to be wrong is too hard.

We may fight hard for some decisions for no other reason than we want everything associated with our project to be perfect.  We act as if everything is of high importance. It really is not. One of my favorite quotes says it best. It comes from The Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder. In it, Tom West says,

“Not all things worth doing are worth doing well.”

This may seem like heresy but it is not. Building the right product for the market is very important. Having the core set of features that everyone will use is very important.  Having obscure capabilities that people will rarely use is less important.  Think about the products you are involved in right now. Are there things whose outcome is really not that important?

Don’t let emotions overtake logic

You can get too emotionally involved in your own project. I once built a wall unit for our family room that housed the television, the kids’ toys, and a lot of books.  People would come over and compliment me on how nice it looked.  All I could see were the mistakes.  Nobody noticed these mistakes, but I obsessed on them.  Were they really wrong if nobody noticed them? Was I right to obsess on them?  I think not.

If I was an artist, I would want everything in my art to be perfect. I would want absolutely nothing wrong with it as art is often an attempt at creating perfection. But we are not artists in building products. We build them to a tolerance, not to an ideal.  Things need to fit plus or minus some degree of error.  Unless you are building at the very high end of the market, you have to expect to have some aspects of your product that are not as good as you could imagine.

Gauging the cost of being wrong

Given how many decisions there are to be made some prioritization is already taking place. The important decisions are scheduled and given a great deal of attention.  What happens to the others?  Can you get to all of them? Can you put enough time into each one to assure a good decision?

If not, what happens if the decision later turns out to be wrong?  There are many decisions whose outcome really is not very critical to the overall success of the effort. Sometimes the cost of being wrong is so low that it is not worth putting a lot of effort into making sure the decision itself is right. In fact, one way to prioritize decisions is by the cost of being wrong.  Those that have really big negative side-effects are important, those that do not are not important.

There are different types of costs here:

  1. Time to the project
  2. Money to the project
  3. Inconvenience for the customer
  4. Inconvenience for the company
  5. Embarrassment for the customer
  6. Embarrassment for the company
  7. Embarrassment for the Product Manager
  8. Law suits
  9. Political Capital
  10. Legal Compliance

Most of the costs listed above have some side effect on the company or the customer and can be gauged reasonably objectively. #7 & #9 are more personal and harder for many of us to weigh correctly.  Our need to distance ourselves from things that are wrong may cause us to work too hard on things that do not matter. Personal embarrassment will not occur if the outcome is not noticed.

If it doesn’t matter flip a coin

That’s right, if it does not matter, it does not matter.  Some decisions can be parceled out and never thought about again.  Other decisions need to be crossed checked a little. Yet other decisions need to be scrutinized in every which way because if it is wrong really bad things can happen.

It is important to test your own conclusions about the cost of being wrong. Having others review your conclusions can help avoid blind spots where you think a decision is not important when in fact its negative side effects can have dire consequences.  But be careful, some people think every decision is important.

—–

Fred Engel is founder and CEO of Westerly Consulting, a management and advisory consulting firm based in Rhode Island.

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Product Camp Scholarship Announced

By Jennifer Doctor

My passion for Product Camps is no secret. Since attending my first one in November 2009, I have gone on the road to enjoy additional events as well as organized a few, bringing me to the grand total of being an attendee at 12 Product Camps. (That is, until the 2012 year where I hope to go to some more!) Each one was fantastic and I loved learning from, teaching and networking with all of the product professionals I have had the pleasure of meeting over the past few years.

Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

As many of you know, for the past several years I have done some “side projects”, aka consulting work. Sometimes this was my primary income; sometimes it supplemented a salary from a company. While doing this work I have operated under the business name HarborLight Partners. It is through this business I am starting a new program – a Product Camp Scholarship.

A scholarship to attend a product camp? Yes. The scholarship is being offered to help new, first-time attendees with travel expenses when their companies do not so that the individual does not have to bear the whole expense out of pocket. (I’ve done that 8 times, and it can add up.) The scholarship is not enough for airfare or to stay at a 4-star hotel; but, if you need help with a tank or two of gas, or one night at a reasonable business hotel, and that will make the difference in your attending, then this program is for you.

I am not looking to have the major product vendors contribute large dollar amounts so that more people can attend. The vendors do a great job of sponsoring the events, and when you add it up they spend quite a lot of money on our community. Rather, this is a micro-scholarship program designed by the product professional community FOR the product professional community. Why? Simple. All too often we have no one to turn to for support in our companies, being an isolated team of one (or a few); but, product camps offer us a support network where we can turn for continued learning. That is what this program is designed to support.

The form for first-time attendees to apply is available here. It’s a 5-minute process. If you are considering attending your first Product Camp, now is the time to apply. Requests must be received 2 weeks in advance of the Product Camp date.

When you do attend remember to do so with a purpose. If you want to propose a session, read this short blog post about presenting at a Product Camp.

Money will be awarded as it is available. There are no guarantees of amounts or the duration of the program. I have seeded the fund with a beginning balance. But, to keep offering the scholarship, more money will be needed. I am committed to adding to it as I am able; but if you have been to a product camp, see value and want to support the program and pay it forward, there is a link here where you can add your micro-donation to the cause. (This is not an official non-profit scholarship fund. There is no tax deduction available.) Even those $10 donations can add up fast and make a difference when the product community comes together.

Now’s the time to start applying! I hope that past attendees of a Product Camp see value, come together as a community and join the cause. I also ask the product community to help promote this program. It’s not about me – it’s about us. Come join the fun! I’ll see you soon at a product camp. (And, thank you.)

(Please share this on Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+: “Product Camp Scholarship Announced” by@jidoctor:   http://wp.me/pXBON-386  #prodmktg #prodmgmt”)