This past weekend, Product Camp Cincinnati 2016 was once again the happening place to be. On a beautiful fall Saturday, over 130 people attended the event at Paycor’s new light-filled headquarters, choosing to spend their day off advancing our community’s shared knowledge of product design and development—while having a blast doing so.
T-shirts ruled the day and the atmosphere was one of friendly collaboration. On the voting wall, attendees chose who they wanted to hear most from the submitted talks. The top talks had a veritable, snow-storm barrage of colorful dots to indicate preference on the voters’ wall, showing a fierce alignment of what we were there to learn with what the experts were ready to share.
A team of five of us from Kaleidoscope attended. Here are some of our favorite talks and some helpful product development tips we learned.
Why You Need a Creative Shift for Product Development, by Steve Ramos
FastCo author Steve Ramos of Steve Ramos Media provided a deep dive into the concept of how to design, build and deliver a product using a “creative shift.” His examples provided the most memorable tips on how to apply this concept:
- Tip 1: Even when you are successful, be thinking of new ways to connect with your audience. ESPN OJ in America Series – ESPN is a highly successful company but wanted to look for new ways engage its audience. The creative shift idea was OJ in America on sports and culture.
- Tip 2: Tap into your creative people and trust their skills. In 1976, Kenner Toys took a leap of faith and bet on creating a line of action figures for then-unknown Star Wars based on the recommendation of a young designer. The supply chain didn’t allow them to make the holiday season, so they got creative and sold an empty box and a promise to deliver Star Wars figures at a later date. It was wildly successful.
- Tip 3: Try something that is the opposite of your normal bread and butter. Art is collected and passed down to generations, so it’s a product that’s “permanent.” Cai Studios created temporary art in the Sky Ladder, a fireworks show that disappeared after it was complete. It keeps their brand relevant and fresh.
From Half-Baked Idea to Prototype in a Week: The Design Sprint, by Tim Metzner and Colin Flynn
Differential founders Tim Metzner and Colin Flynn shared best practices for running a Design Sprint. Here are their very practical tips:
- Tip 4: Design Sprints should include the decision makers or don’t bother. From experience, they shared that without the person to move it forward afterward, a sprint may fall flat.
- Tip 5: Design Sprints should be offsite and full days… but don’t start till after 9:00 a.m. so people can tend to their email before the meeting. As multiple people in the audience had experienced or run design sprints, both good and bad, many asked very helpful questions. Tim and Colin shared excellent tips.
- Tip 6: Plan in advance for Day 5, test day, of the Design Sprint by identifying users in advance. The team advised using Craig’s list and Facebook to identify users.
5 Foundations of Great Storytelling, by Jade E. Kendall
Jade E. Kendall of Rebel Pilgrim Creative Agency argues that storytelling is a very human experience, and therefore an effective way to improve your business or product. With informed input from his own life as a screenwriter, he outlined the essential elements of a story and best-in-class examples of how that is done from classics like the Star Wars films. Here are his expert tips:
- Tip 7: Be truthful and emotional when communicating your brand. People think they are logical, but there is often an underbelly of emotion behind their decisions.
- Tip 8: Show, don’t tell. A story is more effective this way. It is less meaningful to say, “Bill is really nice” than to show why that is the case and let people make up their own minds. “Bill brings cookies for the office every morning and always opens the door for his colleagues.” Likewise, “show, don’t tell” the benefits of your brand.
- Tip 9: Don’t use bait and switch. Your hook has to be true to your (i.e. your brand’s) heart. Otherwise, people will feel betrayed.
- Tip 10: Don’t tell the details that don’t matter. It’s like your aunt who likes to talk forever and your eyes start to glaze over.
- Tip 11: People will only care about your highlights if you tell them about your lowlights. For example, everyone loves the story of the Olympic athlete who overcame incredible hurdles in their life and ultimately won the gold.
- Tip 12: Make sure you “land the plane” (conclude) well. Not doing this can ruin a story.
Getting the Right Things Done: Managing Your Personal Roadmap, by Michael Hickerson
Director of Software Development at Organized Living, Michael Hickerson, shared how to manage both our time and tasks. Here are a few key tips from an Organized Living professional on how to organize the day:
- Tip 13: Connect your goals to your daily work. Write down big, audacious goals, then break those down into a series of action steps.
- Tip 14: Journal. Every day, write down what you’ve done and reflect.
- Tip 15: Create a system. For him, when he writes notes, he puts a triangle next to questions he needs to ask and a circle next to projects, for quick reference.
- Tip 16: Write things down. Our brains are really bad at remembering things. When the context changes, it is hard to translate something into long-term memory and remember it.
- Tip 17: Keep the number of tasks to 3. We are overly ambitious and will write down too large a number of tasks we think we can get done.
- Tip 18: Use the tools you love. Hickerson loves pen and paper, so he uses that. If you like apps to organize, use that.
- Tip 19: Exercise personal retrospective. He thought about writing a song, and realized he is not a songwriter and won’t actually do that, so he didn’t add it to his task list. Know yourself, and be realistic so you avoid adding a lot of unnecessary items to your task lists.
- Tip 20: If you have two different roles, make two different schedules. For example, make a manager’s schedule and a maker’s schedule if you fill both roles. They have different requirements.
About the Kaleidoscope Portable VR Lab
Thank you to everyone who helped test our prototype for our Portable VR Lab. We enjoyed bringing the Explore New Worlds experience to you. As always, contact us if we can help support your product design or VR application development needs.