Writing by Peter Hilton

ProductTank Rotterdam manifesto

Our vision for a local product management community 2024-03-26 #product #event

Frans-Anton van Gils

Recently, on 14 March 2024, ProductTank Rotterdam held its first in-person event, hosted by Last Mile Solutions at their Zeemansstraat office, near Veerhaven.

As co-organisers, Frans-Anton van Gils and I took the opportunity to get to know our founding community members, and do some product discovery for ProductTank Rotterdam. To stimulate the conversation, I presented our manifesto for the community. And like all good product visions, this vision chooses between reasonable alternatives, while making clear and consistent choices.

We’re inclusive

We could choose to be exclusive. We could create a community for real product managers. After all, many product managers complain about ‘caretaker’ product managers, who aren’t empowered and don’t innovate.

Instead, we’re inclusive. We welcome all kinds of (product) people, and celebrate their curiosity without gatekeeping. At our first event, we were happy to be able to talk to people in UX designer and product owner roles.

We share experiences

We could choose to pitch. Some communities invite presenters, who sell their own visions and solutions, translated into their books, training and consulting services.

Instead, we share experiences. We learn from each others’ real stories, compare product management approaches that we’ve tried, and create connections with each other.

We’re in-person and informal

We could choose to create world-wide online events. Many distributed online communities have emerged since 2020, and their members connect with many people, wherever they are.

Instead, we’re in-person and informal. We will form deeper connections with a smaller group of regulars, who we see more than once, and who we can get to know.

We discuss real-world problems

We could choose to discuss product frameworks. Some communities want to teach their members new abstract ideas in product management, and the latest buzzwords and techniques.

Instead, we discuss real-world problems. We learn about each others’ challenges, and discuss how we address them. And sometimes, we need some product management therapy more than we need to hear about idealised performative product management.

We celebrate local companies and products

We could choose to focus on the biggest successful companies. After all, big companies have more impressive stories, and we like to imagine that successful companies do product management well.

Instead, we value local companies and products. Local companies have more relevant stories for our community than the big names, and we get to hear them first hand from our own members.

We explore diverse products and services

We could choose to focus on consumer product tech start-ups. Some communities seek out companies with ideal conditions for modern product management to thrive.

Instead, we explore diverse products and services. We seek stories in different places, not only software product start-ups, and want to discover what we can learn from other industries and company types.

We meet in Rotterdam

We could choose to visit other cities. Some communities seek to expand their reach, geographically, to have as many members as possible.

Instead, we meet in Rotterdam. While we value inclusivity, and welcome visitors from outside the Rotterdam area, other cities have either have their own ProductTank communities, or can create their own. And they can write their own community manifestos.

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