A letter to the Product Design Association — Reflecting on 2016

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Ben Peck
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TLDR; You’re all amazing, talented, and generous members of this great product community! In 2016, we held our 100th event, surpassed 2,000members, doubled our slack group to 538, and held a total of 38 events just in 2016. We’ve come a long way, had a great year and are looking ahead to 2017. We acknowledge our shortcomings and want to have an even better 2017 than 2016 and to do that we need to your help.

Hey Everyone,

First I just want to say that I feel very grateful for the privilege and honor it is to direct, facilitate, uplift, and collaborate with this wonderfully talented group of product designers, managers, researchers, and developers. I’ve learned so much from you all this year and I’m very grateful for your willingness to share your knowledge with the rest of the community. I’m also very grateful to everyone who convinced their companies to sponsor an event and stick their neck out for the betterment of the community. We’ve really had a great year this year! We’ve come a long way in the past couple years but especially in this last year.

I want to share a few memorable milestones with you about the group to give some perspective into how this community we’re a part of has grown over the past year. Its been amazing to watch this group come together and take countless hours out of their everyday busy lives to help each other grow stronger in our professional careers. Looking over these items its hard to believe how far we’ve come.

Some Timeline Context

  • 2007 Jan — Garth Braithwaite creates the IxDA Utah chapter a couple months later moves to Idaho and passes the reins to Andrew Branch
  • 2011 Jul — Andrew Branch created the Meetup group as an IxDA Chapter.
  • 2012 Feb — Wade Shearer joined as a co-organzier
  • 2012 Jan — I joined the chapter. There were 26 members. I’ve attended 65 events since this date.
  • 2014 — We change the name to Product Design Association to be more welcoming to Product Managers

2016 — Year in Review

  • 2016 Jan — 1,440 members (Just two years ago in 2014 we had only 484 members)
  • 2016 Jan — 199 members in the Slack group
  • 2016 Feb — Joined forces with Lunch UX which Patrick Cox built with sweat, tears, late nights, and Mountain Dew. He joins as co-organizer
  • 2016 Feb — Andrew Branch and Wade Shearer let go of the reins and entrust me to take care of you after almost 10 years of running it.
  • 2016 May — 100th event. Twinkie’s and hostess cupcakes are thrown to the crowd. #101 was Front 2016
  • 2016 July — Mariah Hay joined as a co-organizer
  • 2016 Oct — Gilbert Lee joined as a co-organizer
  • 2016 Nov — 2,000 members surpassed
  • 2016 Dec — 538 members in the Slack group
  • 2016 — We had a total of 38 events this year. That’s a quarter of all the events we’ve had in the past 5 years combined

Personally this product community has become a second family to me. Because of you all I feel like I’ve grown more in my career in the past 4 years than I have in the first 6 years, all because you’ve opened the doors to sharing more year over year. I hope you all feel the same.

2017 — Looking ahead

As we look forward to 2017 we want to make sure we’re serving this community the best we can. As much as I believe how well I think I know you, I can always learn more. We want to best understand who you are, your roles, where you are in your career, what you’re looking for out of the group, how you best learn, what you want to learn, and more. We want to make sure we’re providing the content and experiences that best benefit you, your happiness and the advancement of your career. You’re all amazing and we’re very well aware of all our shortcomings and the many improvements we could make to this group. We want to make those improvements but we need your help. I’m a big fan of the book Creativity Inc. and in it there is a great quote:

“What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve it.”
— Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc.

Like Pixar, I’m looking forward to getting uncomfortable and digging for the hidden problems in the Product Design Association helping me know you better which will help us foster the best community we can for us all by better understanding your needs.

What a year 2016 has been and here’s to 2017! Its gonna be amazing.

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