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The benefits of joining the PDMA community of product managers
Like many product managers, my path to product management was rather accidental. After leading software product teams for 10 years, I discovered the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA). This is the oldest professional association for product managers and innovators, building the body of knowledge for us for over 43 years. Yep, the product management discipline is not nearly as new as many people think. It has its roots back to 1930 formally at P&G and informally, longer than that.
PDMA was where I first discovered frameworks and tools for product managers. It was a huge ah-ha moment for me, connecting and providing meaning to aspects of work that I had been doing.
So, given PDMA’s impact on my career journey, I was so pleased when they told me that this podcast is the first, and so far only, they recommend for product managers and innovators.
To talk about how they help product managers, I invited one of the leaders of PDMA to discuss the value of the professional association. Joining us is Mark Adkins, Vice Chair of PDMA. Mark is also the CEO and founder of LeanMed, a medical device company dedicated to bringing essential treatment to underserved parts of the world through innovative technologies.
Every time I talk with Mark I am inspired and I hope you find this discussion does the same for you.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[0:50] How did you get involved with PDMA?
Like you, Chad, I stumbled across PDMA when I was running product development at Milacron in Cincinnati. We were nominated for the outstanding corporate innovator award for PDMA. My first experience with PDMA was speaking about our process at a conference. I realized there were incredible people that were part of the association. From there, I started the chapter in Pittsburgh. Through the years, I’ve had a number of volunteer roles with PDMA.
[2:57] What can you tell us about being the founder of Lean Med?
Lean Med’s mission is to bring Western medicine to developing countries. Pediatric pneumonia is the number one killer of children in the world. Almost one million children died from pneumonia in 2019, and 99% of those deaths were in developing nations, mainly due to a lack of supplemental concentrated oxygen. At Lean Med, we are developing a solar-powered oxygen system for use in developing countries. Our system can save hundreds of thousands of lives.
[4:43] What is your role with PDMA?
I’m the vice chair. As part of an executive committee of three individuals, I’m involved in the day-to-day operation of PDMA.
[15:18] What are the benefits of being a member of PDMA?
I guarantee that PDMA will allow you to meet some of the smartest, most interesting, most dedicated people you’ll ever meet. That’s priceless. You’ll also learn a lot about PDMA’s body of knowledge through our website and many books and webcasts. The meetings provide an opportunity to both hear from speakers and network with people from other companies you would never otherwise meet. We’re all from different types of organizations, but we’re all part of one family that’s doing innovation. The PDMA body of knowledge applies to your work, no matter what company you’re in.
Bonus Question: Of all the ways we can develop our careers as product managers, why choose PDMA?
As part of the PDMA community, you will meet great people. You will learn a lot–we’re a firehose of information about product development and product innovation. By volunteering, you will develop valuable leadership skills like persuasion and empathy. It’s very rewarding to know that you’re making an impact by helping your community get better together. PDMA is very open to letting you do something new for the organization, like creating a special interest group for an area you have experience in. We will give you the resources and help you start a chapter in your town, and it will change the landscape of your town. Being part of this community, working together for something bigger and better, makes a difference.
- Product Development and Management Association
- Lean Med — Lean Medical Innovation
- Connect with Mark via his LinkedIn profile
“The lesson of the MVP is that any additional work beyond what was required to start learning is waste, no matter how important it might have seemed at the time.” – Eric Ries
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator 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.