Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

‘Tis the Season for (Product) Camping


CampingJuly is a time (at least in the Northern hemisphere) when many of you pack up and hit the road for the great outdoors to enjoy some peace and solitude that nature and adventure provide. It’s also a time to step back and take a fresh look at the direction your career is headed. Are you taking advantage of the many Product Camps or “Un-Conferences” offered this year? Product camps are a great place for product management professionals and leaders to step away from the day-to-day and engage in a day of learning and networking. To give you a better perspective, sit back and enjoy the banter of Jim and Mike.

Mike; “What are Product Camps and why should I attend?”
Product Camps are events organized in the spirit of BarCamp, “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment.” These events have no ‘attendees’ because everyone participates in one way or another. They provide a place where people come together, share ideas and learn from their peers. They are known as unconferences; their organizers go to great lengths to promote dialogue and communication, and discourage traditional (i.e. boring) PowerPoint presentations. You should attend a Product Camp to network, share ideas and learn from other professionals. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the next Product Camp in a city near you.

Jim; “What are the benefits of attending a Product Camp?”
There are two reasons why I’ve attended and participated in Product Camps. First, to be part of the product management community, you have to be there. Second, I enjoy the interaction and believe we can teach, exchange ideas, discuss and learn from each other’s experiences. It doesn’t hurt that sales presentations are discouraged.

Mike; “Is there any cost and when are they held?”
As economists are quick to say, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Organizing and carrying out a Product Camp requires a lot of time, effort and money. However, the combination of volunteers and sponsors generally allows organizers to carry out their events without charging a fee to attend. To encourage attendance and avoid conflicts with work and travel, Product Camps are generally held on a weekend day, and most commonly on Saturday.

Jim; “Where can I find a list of upcoming Product Camps?”
There are several good sites that list upcoming Product Camps. I would review Stewart Roger’s and The Productologist as well as your local product management association.

Mike, “What have others experienced?”
Stewart Rogers recently shared this with me:

As someone who has attended four Product Camps, I still get excited for each and every one. I think all the standard conference benefits apply, but at the end of the day it is about meeting new people, sharing experiences, stories and ideas, learning new tricks, and building a network of like-minded product management types. The conferences are about getting what you need to get out of it, whether it is being a wallflower and consuming and processing the content, being a participant in the conversations and either confirming or disputing your product management understandings or being a session leader and letting the world learn from your story.
I always sense from the crowd that people are there because they want to be, they are there because they care about their products and they are there because they know the job could be much less painful.

Both Mike and I have had the pleasure of leading and participating in a number of Product Camps and hope you will plan on attending one soon. In the future, you will not want someone to walk up to you and say, “Why didn’t I see you at the Product Camp? It was awesome!”

The Product Management Perspective: see above

3 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season for (Product) Camping

  1. For those looking for a ProductCamp soon….NYC is next week….July 18th.

    Michael – are you attending?

  2. Robin, thank you for the comment. I’ve been reading about the NYC ProductCamp; it looks like it’s progressing well and will be a great event. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend. I’m working with some friends to build our local PMA with the intent of holding a product camp next year. I’ll watch your blog for a full report.


  3. Pingback: The Tribal Gatherings that are Product Camps « Where the Product Management Tribe Gathers

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