The Humans Strike Back: Putting People Back in Product – ProdConf 2019 Recap

In a world obsessed with metrics, profits, and the latest technology, it can be easy to lose sight of something fundamental, of whom we’re measuring data for, who generates profits, and who we’re creating all this technology for: the people.

Largest ProdConf Event!

This year’s Twin Cities Product Conf, held April 29th at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota, shifted the focus back to humans in the product and how important it is to factor people into product development and product management. The conference, now in its fourth year, has seen a tremendous growth in its own people factor – ProdConf’s inaugural year brought in about 250 attendees, with 2019 drawing in a crowd of over 450.
Opening Keynote with Don Monk, CTO at General Mills
An opening keynote from General Mill’s Don Monk (CTO) started the day off. Don shared his experience working in a mature enterprise with his presentation “Can you teach a 150-year-old dog new tricks?” He emphasized the idea that companies need to change their “how we work” and realize that size is not the enemy of transformation.

Event Focus

Four tracks covered the various facets of “People in Product:” Product Management & Thinking, User Experience, DevOps, and Soft Skills & Leadership.
The wide variety and diverse background of the speakers ensured there was something for all participants. A session led by Elizabeth Hodos had attendees practicing improv to help enforce the idea of “Improving Collaboration in Agile Teams.” Those who attended Jeff Lash’s presentation titled “Foundational Behaviors of Strategic Product Management” were given practical guidance to Product Managers, while Anna Bliss created a case study out of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to analyze failure in a setting other than technology.

Closing Keynote with Luke Hohmann, CEO at Conteneo

Luke Hohmann from Conteneo rounded out the day’s thoughts about people in product by shining a light on the fact that agile is now embracing new people-driven frameworks that include “Design Thinking,” “Lean Startup”, and “Participatory/Beyond Budgeting”. The human nature to solve problems inherently leads to creating new processes and frameworks — something that can only be established, adopted and implemented by people.

Remember This and Continue Learning!

Key takeaway: Products are created by people, and people come first. Don’t forget about the people as you continue on your transformation and product journeys!
Select Twin Cities Product Conf 2019 recorded sessions and slides are available on

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Anne Steiner
Anne Steiner
VP Product Agility, Cprime