This was the Digitale Leute Summit 2019

by Manuela Lorber

Our Berlin Senior Project Manager, Manuela, traveled all the way from Berlin to Cologne to attend the Digitale Leute Conference at the event location Palladium, and describes the impressions and inspirations she took away with her from this exciting event.

 

On 28.11.2019, I visited the Digitale Leute Summit in Cologne, a conference on product development, for the first time. It was particularly exciting that the dimensions UX, strategy and lessons learned, were highlighted on. 

As always, the train from Berlin to Cologne was delayed, but thanks to a dedicated Cologne taxi driver, I arrived almost on time at the Palladium. Thomas, a friend and ex-colleague, had already contacted me via the conference app “Talque” and we were able, despite the turmoil, to find each other directly. The app informed me regularly about speakers, e-scooter free minutes, or competitions: A great add on.

 

MY FAVORITES OF THE DAY:

ASYNCHRONOUS DAILY OR HOW TO DESIGN WORKING REMOTELY

Since we are currently in the middle of a merger from Sevenval to Avenga, and our new company will be spread over three continents, the topic of working remotely was particularly exciting for me. Tim Herbig, Iridion’s Product Lead, is a fervent advocate of the remote model, but he also made it clear from the start that the goal is not to save money, but to enable collaboration across continents and time zones: 

What impressed me most was that he completely challenged the paradigms of collaboration such as “everyone must participate in dailys” or “workshops only function if all participants are in one place”. He proposes an asynchronous daily: Each team member shows a one-minute moving image of status and need for clarification and shares it in the appropriate slack channel. In this way, everyone is informed and can discuss and agree on an item separately. The idea of scribbling workshop ideas, scanning them, and distributing them to everyone and then making decisions together was worth reflecting on.

Appropriately, he introduced Mural: A digital whiteboard for collaborating on a topic and across different locations. I will certainly try out this tool in the future. The possible applications in our projects are manifold: From simple sketches to brainstorming, up to the development of complex workflows. 

 

THE COURAGE TO CUT A REAL MVP 

The discussion with Kristina Walcker-Mayer, Product Lead at N26, once again clearly illustrated what an MVP actually means. Everyone is talking about this smallest profitable unit; but what exactly is it? With every new product, you should focus, initially, on the five or six most important use cases. For the first MVP, you choose exactly one of the use cases, selecting function over value creation. To illustrate this, she cited the example that without customer access to the account, the best additional features are useless. Her advice is to always cut courageously in the first MVP.

 

DUMMY BRANDS FOR FASTER VISIBILITY 

In this case study, Sven Christian Andrä and Dr. Michael Wegener reported on how they transformed the somewhat outdated tech stack of Klingel’s online platform (a traditional mail-order catalog retailer) into a state-of-the-art tech stack within a short time. In doing so, they established agile structures within the company.

Straight away, the development team created a dummy brand and bundled all the available women’s handbag offers from the mail-order company into a new shop with this brand. They connected it all to a new checkout process and launched it. With this pragmatic approach, after only three months, the management received a first visible result, and user feedback was collected under real-life conditions. 

A take away from this presentation for my projects is a useful approach to quickly generating visibility in complex technical infrastructures.

 

SERVICE DESIGN AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT TEAM

In Interhyp’s talk, the experiences with the role “Service Designer” were discussed in more detail. This was super interesting for me because we had installed exactly this role in my last project. And just like us, Interhyp has had consistently positive experiences with it. The project team consists of a project owner (PO), a service designer, a UX designer, and the developer team. This allows the PO to concentrate on development over the following four to six weeks, while the service designer keeps an eye on the vision and integrates it into the new features.

 

BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS – HOW DO I MANAGE FRUSTRATION

Marc Abraham’s contribution was really entertaining especially when he talked about the frustrations of everyday life in the PO and, above all, how to counteract them. Funnily enough, I’d implemented much of what he suggested in my last product development project. For example, the impact map to manage the constant changes in requirements on the part of the customer. It’s actually quite simple, but very effective: It’s a list in which feature changes with their dependencies to the original feature scope, time and cost, are listed. I’ll definitely buy Marc Abraham’s book. I think it’s really worth reading.

 

FLEXITARIAN THROUGHOUT THE DAY

The catering was very good. There was something for everyone – vegan, vegetarian and meat. Avenga, too, took care of our well-being 🙂 The coffee stand we sponsored was one of the most popular as far as I could see.

 

MY CONCLUSION

I was able to take many small hacks and tweaks with me for my next projects, although I didn’t come away with any big life-changing insight. But that’s good, as it only shows that we at Avenga are on the right track in how we staff our projects and how we approach product development.

One more point, though, about the contributions: In addition to the favorites mentioned, there were also some rather disappointing presentations where the topic as it appeared in the title wasn’t even mentioned. You had a feeling you were at a promotional event for certain platforms or new products. The talk formats were particularly affected by this – there’s definitely room here for improvement on the side of the organizer. 

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