Crowdsourced conference content

At the end of October I attended Product Management Consortium’s the 3rd ProductCamp Seattle. The event was developed by, and for, product managers, to increase skills and knowledge, build professional relationships, and provide greater recognition for the discipline.

The most interesting part for me was how the content was developed and delivered: sourced from, and selected by, the participants in the morning just before the start of the conference. This approach resulted in sessions that focused on the current needs of the attendees and, in my opinion, was largely successful. The quality of the presentations I attended and those I heard about ranged from OK to excellent. Another huge benefit? The conference was free to attendees and attracted hundreds of professionals working in the product management field.

Contrast this with the Product Development Management Association’s 35th annual global conference in Phoenix that was happening on the same weekend. As late as a week before this conference, the organizers were scrambling to offer deeply discounted travel and accommodation deals to try to fill seats at the $3,000, 3-day event. Sure, the speaker line-up was impressive, and concurrent sessions were the traditional and familiar format for networking and gaining knowledge and skill. Downside? Expensive to produce and attend.

Issues of relevance, value, timeliness and grass-roots involvement are changing the professional development landscape. My most meaningful takeaways for your clients? I noticed that there was more energy, involvement, and spontaneity than in traditional venues and the connections made were with specialists that will be easy to contact and integrate into local projects in the future.