Key Learnings from the Women in Product Conference 2021 #WIP21

This year’s Women in Product Conference centered around the theme of igniting possibility. The sessions were full of informative and tactical advice that motivated me. Here are some of my key takeaways from the three day conference.

  1. Creating Possibility : (Rana el Kaliouby ,Madhurima khandelwal, Ana Grace, Navrina Singh Farah Abdallah Akoum)

In this session we heard from industry leaders that dived in to discuss impact of AI on building products. I loved Rana underlining that when it comes to building products with AI, emotional quotient (EQ) is an important factor. She strongly recommended to start with empathy in ideation phase and keeping it in mind all the way to the deployment phase of new technology. Further, the conversation about applied AI covered industry usage in commerce, finance to real-estate and covered how it is helping personalize user experience. AI is moving the industry from primarily tech focused to a to a socio technical space. Three key areas to keep in mind while building with AI are:

A. Accountability : both in using diverse tools and processes

B. Transparency: Both internally (e.g., vendor model, source data) and externally with stakeholders

C. Intentional decision making: Being diligent and calling out the bias throughout the process. AI Governance chasm can be bridged by PMs.

2. Envisioning and Developing a Successful Product (Alysha Cormack, Nickey Skarstad)

A. Outlined the fundamental elements of a good requirement document during this session. Effective product development begins when requirements are easy to understand. It’s important to think about it as a three-step process: recognize an opportunity, use data to make informed decisions, and understand your users. When you start the requirement process, think about: Who (who will use the product), What (what do they do), and Why (why do they do it). Identify attainable metrics and set goals after setting strategic objectives. Starting with high-level goals and identifying the building blocks to achieve them is crucial.

B. Measuring product quality: Quality should be considered throughout the product lifecycle. Early on in product development, the establishment of quality primitives is crucial. A product’s success depends on its quality. I appreciated Nicky’s a top-down approach, where she was able to understand quality aspects associated with north star metrics. I intend to use her Miro framework for my own product development.

3. Building Product and People in Continued Times of Change (by Yardley Pohl, Diana Williams, Ashley Yuki), Recommendation: Book

We live in a time when many changes are taking place internally and externally. These are some ways to thrive in a remote distributed environment:

A) Incorporate diversity into the team and ideas to organically come up with broad perspectives

B) Prioritization is critical in times of remote work, as well as using frameworks to make decisions. This helps the core team and extended stakeholders understand the decision-making approach more easily.

C) Develop a comprehensive communications toolkit. The more important thing is to understand the best medium for communicating with different stakeholders and adapt your communication style accordingly.

D) Always thinking outside the box to address user needs. Since several consumer trends are accelerating during COVID, having a scrappy approach to understanding consumer needs makes sure that a company’s overall strategy keeps evolving by accounting for new market trends.

4. How to build for international markets: (Rebekah Mueller, Mave Houston, Susana Soares & Connie Lee)

Empathy and inclusion are essential to understand consumers’ interests and cultural norms. Different use cases have different desired outcomes for the same product. Designing for global impact means considering inclusive design for a broader population as a fundamental principle. It is critical to prepare for the unknown in different markets. While building for global markets scalability and flexibility should be considered. It is also helpful to partner with local teams to understand local needs. During discovery phase it is helpful to partner with UX to invest deeply in learning gaps. Comprehend the importance of compliance when launching in global markets. Allowing scalability for design systems makes it easier to launch. Some key areas to consider are:

A) From a product standpoint, thinking about design, content debt, and tech debt is important.

B) Keep the localization team closer to the product development team.

C) Don’t think of expansion as a retrofit.

D) Let go of confirmation bias




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neeharika sinha

neeharika sinha

Facebook, Ex-Google, Fashion Tech Entrepreneur

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