Product Chemistry – Making the Connections

May 8, 2017 @ Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN

Elevated user demands, heightened technical complexity and the expectation of rapid delivery are pulling product teams in opposite directions. More and more, product leaders are forced to unify these interests in the name of getting something out the door.

During this year’s Product Conference, we’ll explore how product leaders create “product chemistry” by connecting business-based architecture, sensible customer experience and a DevOps pipeline for good. Through these connections, we’ll dig into the changing landscape of product leadership, what’s next for us in these roles, and how product can thrive in this rapidly changing environment.


  • Peter Pascale

    Vice President of Product at Pearson VUE

    Build a Better Roadmap, and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door

    A paper map (remember those?) lays out the territory, and you use it to identify where you could go, and how to get there. A product roadmap does the same thing for your product. A good product roadmap supports sounds decision-making about product investment and underpins your evaluation of growth opportunities. But unlike the paper map, no-one is going to publish the roadmap for you. This session will give you the tools to develop and publish a roadmap for your own product, including techniques, examples, best practices, and traps to avoid.

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  • Kelly Robbert

    Director of Customer Experience at TCF Bank

    Customer Benefits Before Features and Functionality:

    From back of the napkin to total product design; your product is only as good as the benefit it offers customers. Key to designing towards customer benefit is knowing who your customers are. Not only who they are but who they should be in order for your business to grow. Beyond designing products with the right customer in mind, gaining internal engagement from those delivering on the value proposition is yet another critical factor in product design.
    Join this session to learn more about how customer segmentation, designing to mitigate friction points and planning for sales effectiveness set you and your product up for success.

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  • William Beeman

    Professor and Chair for the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota

    Harnessing the Power of Anthropology in Product Design:

    Anthropology provides powerful tools in the design process. Product and service designers often use a popular template for the design process, which involves first understanding consumer needs and desires, imagining a design product, prototyping, creating and testing that product, and finally assessing user experience. Frequently in this process, both the initial and the final stages involving deep understanding of the consumer are neglected. Anthropological methodology provides powerful tools for understanding these needs, desires, and experiences; which are frequently unarticulated and unarticulatable on the part of consumers. Anthropology aides the design process in another way: by articulating and assessing change in consumer needs and desires, often unanticipated in the design process. In this talk, I will show how harnessing the power of this methodology leads to better, more consistently positive results for designers and manufacturers.

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  • Jason Selby

    Vice President of Engineering at Leadpages

    Let’s Talk About our Relationship… with Customers:

    Founded in 2013, Leadpages creates simple, beautiful software and web apps that allow businesses to grow large and devoted audiences. They believe compelling online marketing doesn’t need to be time consuming and tedious. From their start, Leadpages enjoyed near-immediate product-market fit and the rapid growth that accompanies it. But three years in, the pain from that growth was starting to show. As Product and Engineering teams grew in size, the pace of new features slowed, intimacy with the market declined and competitors emerged in a segment Leadpages helped create. This session will go in-depth to discuss the problems Leadpages encountered, unconventional (and innovative) changes to the org structure they implemented, and the lessons learned along the way.

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  • Pat Dawson

    Principal & CX Strategist at CongaCX

    Product Chemistry: Connecting with Customers’ Emotions:

    Everyone knows their customers’ rational needs, right? But did you know that tapping in their emotional needs is a greater driver of customer preference? Learn how to unearth those emotions needs and fulfill them in your experience design. Pat Dawson is Principal and CX Strategist for CongaCX and a recognized leader in the field of Customer Experience insights, strategy and design.

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  • Sean Otto

    Vice President of Analytics at Cyient Insights

    Through the Looking Glass: Challenges and Trends in Designing Connected Products that Deliver Outstanding Customer Experiences: 

    The Internet of Things has been around for a few years now and while companies are spending millions of dollars digitizing legacy products and/or coming out with new connected products, we are still in our infancy of how to do it right. Whether you are an industrial manufacturer or a medical company or a software company, come learn about the burgeoning ecosystem of processes, skills, and talent required to make these connected dreams, connected realities.

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  • Edward Chenard

    Founder of Cyberian Data

    The Team Ecosystem of Data Products:

    Data science has garnered a lot of attention and resources, however, the failure rate of data science projects is 80% or more. Often teams that are tasked with building data products are over-indexed on dev and data science, this leads to failure. With a well-balanced team that has skills and players that are often lacking from today’s data products teams, not only are better results achieved but real success as well. The team ecosystem of data products is vital to the success of a business and makes all the difference in having data products be a money pit or a profit center for a company.

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  • Chris Powers

    Engineering Manager at Sprout Social

    Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: 

    Product managers play many roles, but one often overlooked is “Chief Storyteller”. Members in an organization rely on PMs to tell stories about their goals, their accomplishments, their struggles, and ultimately their value. This gives the PM a tremendous amount of power, power that can be used both to the benefit and detriment of the organization overall. Used wisely, this storytelling pulls teams together towards a compelling shared vision. Used poorly, it quickly erodes the critical trust between a PM, their team, and the org at large. During this talk we will reflect on the stories — and the lies — that we tell ourselves, our teams, and the people we report to. We will talk about goals, value props, estimates, iterative development, and we’ll even touch on some math and statistics. Come to be challenged and equipped to make the most of your storytelling potential.

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  • Kristen Womack

    Sr. Product Manager & Web Strategist at Night Sky Web Co

    Logs & Alerts, Not Just for Ops: Techniques to Improve your Product Roadmap:

    Focusing on the learn aspect of the build-measure-learn development cycle, we’ll talk about how Product Managers and teams can use system logs and other data to inform their product roadmap. Think of it as bringing a deeper connection between Product Managers, their roadmaps, and a DevOps culture. I’ll share specific techniques Product Managers can use to improve their roadmaps in the learning cycle of lean product development using system usage data.

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  • Paul A. Pilosi & Scott Melanson

    Vice President of Product Development & Senior Industrial Designer at WhiteBoard Product Solutions

    Iterative Product Development – You’re Not Alone:

    Commonly, developers in every industry think of their product as a piece of perfection that needs to work perfectly the first time; where in reality, this is almost never the case. Paul Pilosi and Scott Melanson from WhiteBoard Product Solutions will share their insight and experiences on what iterative and flexible design processes aren’t just normal, but can lead to new and exciting possibilities in the development of anything.

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  • Esra Kucukciftci

    Founder & CEO at Pricing Innovations

    Two H’s and One O Make Water EVERY TIME, but What Does Chemistry Mean for Infinite Digital Behaviors?:

    Before the turn of the digital age, the processes that produced physical goods have consistently achieved over 99.9% reliability and reproducibility in their outputs whereas in digital, we find ourselves celebrating 4-5% conversion rates in our designed outcomes. In our time together, we’ll dive deeper into what drives the key differences between developing physical products and digital products, and introduce a few key methods that digital product development can borrow from physical product development.

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  • Anne Steiner

    Product Coach at DevJam

    Where do Stories Come From? Getting From an Idea to Actionable Backlog: 

    The boss told you to “just write all the stories,” but you have little to start with beyond a vague idea or a bullet point on a slide. How do you get to those brilliant, right-sized stories that can be handed off to your developers? Illustrated via a real-life example, Anne Steiner demonstrates concrete steps for filling the gaps between idea and stories. In the end, you’ll have your stories but more importantly, you’ll also have a discovery conversation that leads to deeper product understanding.

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  • Beth McKeever 

    Lead Product Designer at Target

    Symbiotic Product Work:

    Across the industry, there’s often a blurry line between what product owners do and what product designers do. This can lead to politics, egos and tense situations that take away from the end goal of making a great product. Is the best way to work together to embrace the blurry line? How might we create the right give-and-take between our roles? Learn from stories and research about how the best product+design duos work together.

  • David Quimby

    Principal at Virtual Coast

    Systematic Innovation and Product Development:
    Doug Engelbart didn’t invent the mouse — he discovered it. Identifying patterns of design and innovation that are common to various contexts and applying them within a product category — or even across product categories — is a cognitive strategy that enjoys an advantage over processing each creative opportunity in isolation from previous ideation. We’ll introduce the concept of systematic innovation and identify the various genres of systematic techniques. We’ll explore the history and the potential advantages / disadvantages of systematic approaches to innovation and we’ll compare the theory to our practical experiences. We”ll ponder a rather extreme notion in which systematic innovation might amplify itself by applying itself to itself (invoking the mathematical / computational concept of recursion). We’ll review a practical application of a rather remarkable disruption in the user experience domain that resulted from a systematic approach.

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  • Jennifer Nowlin

    Principal at Accredent

    Connected Customer Journeys – Turning Internet of Things Insights into Interactions:

    The age of the connected data-driven consumer relationship is here. Internet of Things is fundamentally redefining customer intimacy and brand affinity, changing how we compete for customer attention, and even how we operate our businesses. Learn how IoT, mobile, social, commerce, physical, and smart product customer interactions are converging to deliver compelling new customer experiences and laying the groundwork for a whole new business reality. See the technologies and platforms that make this happen and understand how businesses are utilizing connected customer journeys for their own digital transformation.

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Open Track Speakers 

  • Annika Bellin

    Product Delivery and Connections at Scale:

    100 developers, 15 scrum teams, 4 locations, 1 product. …Complexity grows exponentially with multiple team scrum. At scale, working software typically does not fulfill leadership’s request for progress updates. Come learn how we’ve evolved the typical burndown and velocity data into actionable vital signs. This session will also cover how we’ve iterated our planning and delivery model, including what’s next for our team as we move in the direction of continuous planning.

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  • Steven Fahrenholtz

    Why is innovation so hard?:

    This talk will provide best practices for both leaders and doers of innovation for simultaneously being efficient and exploring. Companies that simultaneously explore and be efficient will win in the marketplace because they will be able to scale things that the market needs. Paradoxically, the average life expectancy for an innovation group in an established company is about 24 months. Despite selecting the best and brightest to lead innovation and giving them top level support with a budget, innovation groups are being disbanded. Something is wrong? Many articles have been written about the difficulties of making the new a reality in an established organization and they all have truth embedded within them. However, the root cause might be very simple and yet, very daunting. It might be embedded in the simple fact that established companies are or have been highly successfully. Established companies exist because they have successfully created scale. If they fail to achieve scale, someone else will eventually deliver their value proposition more efficiently and they will inevitably decline. And, scale requires consistency. So, why is innovation so hard in an established company? Innovation is hard because the very things that makes a company thrive are exactly the same things that make is difficult for them to embrace the new. Therefore, the root cause of why it is hard to do the new is that established companies are rightly designed for sameness while innovation requires newness.

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  • Patrick Szalapski

    Tweaking Scrum:

    It is a mistake to leave the product decisions to the Product Owner alone.  Every member of an always-improving, self-organizing Scrum team will help to make the team’s work and the product better.  This highly collaborative session will have a section on prepared insights on how to tweak typical Scrum practice as learned from several years of software development on Scrum teams; then the bulk of the time will be open for your insights on how you have tweaked Scrum that you might share with the group.  However, this discussion will not simply be show-and-tell time; instead, we will think through the suggestions from a product lens in order to see if the potential impact is outweighed by missing out on the benefits from “untweaked” Scrum.  We will avoid dogmatic thinking but not controversy as we tweak Scrum together.

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  • Ben vanGlabbek

    You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means:

    I love product and agile but its plethora of concepts, practices and tools, can often confuse teams. As we became a product organization at my company, we noticed many teams were focused on rituals over the outcomes. To help them embrace the craftsmanship of product and engineering, we blended the culture we wanted with Agile Fluency empowering them to create their own roadmap. Through this process each team determined what they wanted to learn and developed a shared understanding; ultimately creating their own unique path towards self-management.

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  • Kevin Matheny

    Words Are Tricky Things: Creating Shared Understanding:

    Ever wondered what the heck someone meant by a particular requirement? Ever been surprised to discover that you were using the same word as someone else but meant something totally different? Congratulations, you’re human! Language is an imprecise tool for communication, but it’s the best one we have, so we’re stuck with it. In this talk, I’ll go over the reasons why communication can go wrong, how to detect when it’s happening, and give you some actionable techniques you can use to generate and document shared understanding.

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Times Location Event
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Minnesota History Center Lobby Check-in / Vote on Open Tracks / Breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m 3M Auditorium  Welcome & Opening Remarks
Track Product Management 3.0 – Making the Connections Business-Based Architecture and DevOps Pipeline for Good Sensible Customer Experience Open Track
 Room 3M Auditorium  Honeywell Classroom Deluxe 1 & 2 Heffelfinger
 9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Chris Powers
Two H’s and One O Make Water EVERY TIME, but What Does Chemistry Mean for Infinite Digital Behaviors?
Esra Kucukciftci
The Missing Ingredient in Product Design: Customer Emotions
Patrick Dawson
Product Delivery and Connections at Scale
Annika Belin
 10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Where do Stories Come From? Getting From an Idea to Actionable Backlog
Anne Steiner
Iterative Product Development
Paul Pilosi & Scott Melanson
Customer Benefits Before Features and Functionality
Kelly Robbert
Why is innovation so hard?
Steven Fahrenholtz
Lunch Location
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lobby/Hefflinger
Track Product Management 3.0 – Making the Connections Business-Based Architecture and DevOps Pipeline for Good Sensible Customer Experience Open Track
Room  3M Auditorium  Honeywell Classroom  Deluxe 1 & 2  Heffelfinger
 12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Systematic Innovation and Product Development
David Quimby
The Team Ecosystem of Data Products
Edward Chenard
Through the Looking Glass: Challenges and Trends in Designing
Dr. Sean Otto
Tweaking Scrum
Patrick Szalapski
 1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Build a Better Roadmap, and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door
Peter Pascale
Let’s Talk About our Relationship… with Customers
Jason Selby
Symbiotic Product Work
Beth McKeever
Words Are Tricky Things: Creating Shared Understanding
Kevin Matheny
Snack Location
2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Lobby
Track Product Management 3.0 – Making the Connections Business-Based Architecture and DevOps Pipeline for Good Sensible Customer Experience Open Track
Room  3M Auditorium  Honeywell Classroom  Deluxe 1 & 2  Heffelfinger
 2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Connected Customer Journeys – Turning Internet of Things (IoT) insights into interactions
Jennifer Nowlin
Logs & Alerts, Not Just for Ops: Techniques to Improve your Product Roadmap
Kristen Womack
Harnessing the Power of Anthropology in Product Design
Dr. William O. Beeman
You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means
Ben van Glabbek
Times Location Event
3:30p.m. – 4:15 p.m. 3M Auditorium Speaker Fishbowl & Closing
4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Lobby/Heffelfinger Beer-o-spective




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