What product managers need to know about the Product Development and Management Association
The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) has been curating the body of knowledge for product managers, leaders, and innovators and helping them improve since 1976—the longest-running product management professional group. Most of us haven’t known about product management for more than 10 or 20 years, yet PDMA has been improving the discipline of product management for nearly five decades.
Are you involved in a professional group for your career? If we were project managers, we would be involved with the Project Management Institute because they are the go-to association for project managers. Well, what about us product managers? PDMA is the professional group for us. What value does it provide? Is it staying up with current practice? Is it worth looking into?
To help answer these questions, Susan Penta joins us. She is the current Vice Chair of PDMA and serves on PDMA’s group responsible for certification as well as the group that helps local PDMA chapters across the world. She is the co-founder and managing partner at MIDIOR, which has been providing professional services for 25 years to product organizations in a number of areas from product insights, product development and management, and technology platforms. It’s worth noting that PDMA is a volunteer-led organization and, like Susan, most of the people involved in its leadership have fulltime jobs in product roles yet find time to contribute to the professional association. On and off, I’ve been one of those contributors as well because I have found PDMA very helpful in my career development. This will no doubt be an interesting discussion.
Attend the PDMA Inspire Innovation Conference in Orlando, FL, November 13-15, 2022: pdma.org/page/conference-central. Use code PMNPodcast10 for 10% off registration.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[7:17] How did you first discover PDMA?
I started as a product manager in the eighties. When I founded MIDIOR in 1997, I was looking for training for the individuals we were hiring because all my product knowledge was based on experience, not formal training. I had some colleagues in New England who were involved with PDMA, and the PDMA New England chapter had disintegrated. We started talking, and I decided to use PDMA’s huge knowledge base as training and restart the New England chapter. I’ve stayed involved with PDMA for the basis of professional development that is provided through the knowledge base, formal certification, and anything in between.
[10:36] What value has PDMA personally provided you?
When I first got on the board in the early 2000s, my interest in PDMA was for both my firm and me personally, but it was more for the big vision. PDMA has always been special because we bring together practitioners, service providers, and academics. At that point the NPDP certification was just getting started, and I was part of that conversation, asking what that would look like and whether it would be applicable across industries. For me, a big industry is financial. At this time, financial services firms were recognizing they were technology companies, and the discipline of product development and management really didn’t exist. PDMA was instrumental for me in helping my clients get exposed to product management and its value.
In PDMA we get to talk about product—the challenges and opportunities around product as a discipline. There weren’t other places to have those conversations. That part was a pleasure.
I am all about the discipline of product management, nurturing the discipline, the importance of the discipline, and being supportive of all of the different roles across career journeys and industries. For me, that is why PDMA matters.
[15:21] What does PDMA provide to product professionals?
PDMA can be many things depending on where you are on your career journey. It can be a place you go to learn. It can be a community of individuals you connect with and learn from. You can do it in a fairly light and easy way by interacting with our digital content through our Knowledge Hub (K Hub), body of knowledge, or presentations. PDMA has chapters globally. It’s a nice way to engage with a community of peers and get exposed to companies and how they’re approaching product development and management.
As you move through your career, what PDMA offers shifts. If you get interested in the more abstract parts of product development and management, you have access to our Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM) and individuals who teach at higher institutions and do research around product management.
For most of us, PDMA is not a place you go but a place you belong as a product professional. PDMA is the place where anyone, regardless of how they intersect with the product discipline, can belong, converse, and advance the discipline. It is super helpful as you’re thinking about your future. Through PDMA you can explore many different career paths.
[20:18] Tell us about the academic dimension of PDMA.
If you are solely interested in research, there is probably a place at PDMA for you because we have an A-grade academic journal, JPIM. You can stay there if you want, but many of the academics who are involved in PDMA are as interested if not more interested in how the research gets translated into practice. PDMA does a nice job bringing academic conversations and real-time applications of research together. Academics do the research; service providers translate the research; and practitioners put the research into practice. We have a body of knowledge, an academic journal, a certification, tool books, and handbooks. Those resources go from academic endeavors to making things practical. The single most important thing that makes PDMA different from many organizations is we focus on closing the loop between research and practical applications.
[26:41] Tell us about this year’s PDMA annual conference.
- November 13-15, 2022
- Orlando, FL
- JPIM Research Forum
- Body of Knowledge workshops
- Innovation Café
- Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award panel
- Keynotes and speakers including Marianne Lewis, Jack Schaffer, Dan Olsen, Geoff Thatcher, and many others
Action Guide: Put the information Susan shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Learn more about PDMA and register for the conference—use code PMNPodcast10 for 10% off
- Follow PDMA on LinkedIn
“Success can be found at the intersection of preparation and opportunity.” – Susan Penta, based on Seneca
Thank you for taking the journey to product mastery and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.