What’s on your bookshelf? Reading is an essential occupation for any product manager who wants to keep learning and developing their skills and stay current. As Fran Lebowitz famously said, “think before you speak, read before you think”.
Although it’s a relatively young profession, product management has already spawned some pretty classic reference works. So here’s a (by no means exhaustive) list of product management books that you should read this year.
Inspired, by Marty Cagan. First published in 2008 and now in its second edition, it’s probably the one book that every product manager has looked through. It covers everything from the basic how-to stuff through to product organisation structure and staffing. It’s also full of Marty’s own personal stories and has profiles of some outstanding product managers and technology-powered product companies.
Empowered, by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones. In the follow-up to Inspired, the authors examine what it means to be an empowered product team, the creation of a product vision and strategy and more besides.
The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. The book behind the lean startup movement – the original guide to innovating, iterating, and making better and faster decisions.
Continuous Discovery Habits, by Teresa Torres. We reference this book a lot on the Mind the Product blog. Maybe it’s because so many product people still struggle to make discovery a continuous practice?
Outcomes over Output, by Josh Seiden. Subtitled “Why customer behavior is the key metric for business success”, Josh Seiden’s book shows you how outcomes rather than output creates focus. It’s a short one – designed to be read in an hour or so – so there’s a lot of substance and little filler.
Product Management in Practice by Matt LeMay. Now in its second edition and updated for hybrid and remote working. Matt – a long-time contributor to Mind the Product – provides lots of real-world guidance for current and aspiring product managers in this book.
My Product Management Toolkit, by Marc Abraham. Marc’s book is a practical guide to developing both digital and physical products, with strategies for determining what customers want and effective methods to iterate on a product or feature.
Just Enough Research, by Erika Hall. Still cited by product leaders as one of their regular go-tos, this book was first published about 10 years ago. It’s a guidebook of trusted research methods you can implement right away, no matter what the size of the team or budget you have to work with.
Escaping the Build Trap, by Melissa Perri. Melissa Perri’s book looks at why businesses ship features rather than cultivating the value those features represent, and at how to create a product culture that produces value and focuses on outcomes.
Hooked, by Nir Eyal. Subtitled “How to Build Habit-Forming Products”. Nir Eyal’s expertise is in product design, behavioural science and behavioural engineering. His book explores how to build habit forming behaviour in users through a trigger, action and reward.
Obviously Awesome, by April Dunford. Subtitled “how to nail product positioning so that customers get it, buy it, love it”. April Dunford’s book offers a step by step process for a startup to follow to position their product, service or company.
Product management books for leaders and people managers
Strong Product People, by Petra Wille. Petra’s book is packed with actionable advice for product leaders who want to make sure their teams are competent, empowered, and inspired.
The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo. This book can be a great help to first-time people managers. A one-time VP of Product Design at Facebook, Julie was first asked to lead a team when she was just 25 and had barely any experience being managed, let alone managing others. Her experiences led her to write this book.
The Fearless Organization, by Amy Edmondson. This book, by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, examines psychological safety. It shows that companies can only make real progress when employees feel free to discuss their plans and ideas and dare to express their concerns openly.
Hiring Product Managers by Kate Leto. In this book Kate talks us through the importance of emotional intelligence, the concept of Product EQ and how to use a range of tools to build an emotionally intelligent team.
Any books we’ve missed? Anything else you’ve read that has made a big impact on the way you think about your product or the way you work? Please let us know!
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