July 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:
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