ProductCamp: Where The Magic Happens

By Jan Ustohal, Product Manager



Spending a Saturday working seems like a completely annoying thing. And it really is. Unless you are a product manager. And you live in Berlin. And it’s September 7th, 2013. Because then it’s not about working. Then it’s about ProductCamp 2013.

The event, hosted by the lovely people of ImmobilienScout24 in their awesome HQ close to Ostbahnhof, was a second incarnation of the unconference focused on product management and marketing, organized by volunteers and sponsored by several of Berlin’s startups (Fyber as well, of course).

I, as a ProductCamp virgin, was excited about it already a week ahead, even though I had no idea what to expect. Did it exceed my expectations? Hell yeah!

So, what is so special about such event? At a ProductCamp there are no speakers, no predefined sessions, no big names. ProductCamp is made by people for people. People volunteer to host sessions, propose a topic, or just share their experience in a largely informal environment, where product management novices, such as me, freely mingle and network with veterans of the industry who did the job even before the term “product management” was officially coined (and hyped).

The session topics ranged from HC product management topics (the role of product owner), to agile methodologies (“What comes after Scrum?”), to more general but popular topics, such as development for the second (or third) screen. Some sessions were simple discussions among 10-15 people, some were more like traditional deck-based presentations, and some just jumped between formats during the 45 minutes each session was assigned.

So, what would my takeaways be regarding the future of product management?

First of all, people want to do this. The more events like this we have, the more people will know what a product manager does, so we can avoid questions like, “So, what do you do, apart from managing products?”. What is also good is that people are thinking about what’s next, be it the next agile methodology (SCRAMBAN 2.0), redefinition of the role of a business analyst, or a way to evaluate whether someone is a good product owner. Most importantly, however, people want to share their experience and knowledge. I am really happy that the community is eager to discuss, brainstorm, and figure things out together, rather than relying on someone else to write a book about it.

To conclude, if there is a ProductCamp Berlin 2014, I’ll be there, furiously refreshing the ticket page to make sure I secure one of the few tickets available. I just hope that with some more months of product management experience I’ll be able to contribute much more and maybe help push the whole product management community forward.

That said, big up to all the organizers and volunteers. Without their care and passion the event would lose a big part of its charm, despite the venue, catering, ice cream, t-shirts, sick #podojo New Era snapbacks, or Fyber-sponsored after-party. At the end it’s just because of the people that magic happens and people go home so happy.

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