I learned a lot at the Business of Software Conference when I attended as a first-timer in 2018. Throughout the conference, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint takeaways that folks would be able to bring home to improve their individual growth or their team’s outputs. #BoS2019 was no different.
BoS is rare for how much it encourages community. I mean – have you ever been to another conference offering interactive notes? In the spirit of giving back to those who may have been actively listening or away fielding a client call, I took the time to record a few takeaways.
If you’re looking for something to jog your memory – or even better, a reason why you and your teammates should be at BoS2020, here are 4 quick takeaways* from Business of Software Conference 2019.
*Mind you, this is the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned to view the full videos of talks, coming soon!
1: Do you have a stance on positioning?
My interest was piqued at the beginning of the day when April Dunford gave an entire talk on how to position for growth (she’s literally written the book on it, which you can buy here). How does your company’s product provide a solution for the pain points of your target customers and how do you talk about it through the sales cycle? It’s more than branding and messaging – your positioning should answer the question: “What is this and why should I care?”.
At the end of Day 1 when Dharmesh Shah spoke about how important it is to narrow your focus, instead of broadening the marketing, April’s points were driven even further home (around the world and back home again, that is!).
2: O! OKRs & Outputs over Outcomes, Oh my…
Whitney O’Banner got up on stage to say that yes, she loves OKRs, but only when they’re used properly throughout a team. She described it perfectly when she named OKRs as being “Overrated and Kinda Right.” Her main suggestions were not to cascade OKRs from the top of the business down to the individual, and to ignore the actual metrics of the measurement to start, and focus on measuring.
Teresa Torres took to the stage the following day to drive the theme home. Torres was also a fan of using a structured framework to get teams having the correct conversations. She spoke about the HiPPo, or the Highest-Paid Person’s Opinion and how their influence affects team decision making. She urged the audience to think of solutions in terms of an opportunity-solution tree, because “opportunity” is so much broader than “problem.”
What if we were using OKRs to measure our opportunities?
Sunish Gupta shone a light on accessibility this year. Many of us are fortunate not to necessarily utilize accessibility features, but the same cannot be said of all our users. What does it take to build an accessible product? Sunish gave us a great foundation of understanding and even surprised us by revealing that the telephone and the typewriter were both, initially, tools for accessibility.
4: Vulnerability and Emotion
My big overall takeaway from the talks was that being in the software industry, as much as it can seem cold and technical, requires a lot of emotional labor and vulnerability. Each speaker that took the stage didn’t hold back when it came to being honest and transparent about the challenges they’ve faced or what they don’t know.
Business of Software is worth attending for the folks you share the conference space with, alone. While the content of the conference was just as stellar this year as last, I was repeatedly impressed with the calibre of the intellect of those surrounding me in the speaking auditorium, lunch hall, coffee cart, and dinners. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by how transparent, humble, and approachable all the attendees are. Everyone I’ve met is willing to share their experience with challenges and successes alike. In the cut-throat world of software, there’s an inexplicably human element to this event that I’ve yet to find anywhere else.
Allison Grinberg-Funes is a connection catalyst. That means she specializes in connection. She helps companies connect with their audience via storytelling, content strategy, & digital marketing. Keep up with her on Twitter here.
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