25 Resources that helped me get up to speed as (digital) Product Manager

…Sharpening your PM skills in a fast-changing environment

Alexander Zonneveld
Feb 8, 2016 · 4 min read

As Product Manager in a large (consumer electronics) company, you often forget to read-up on the experiences shared and lessons learned elsewhere in the tech industry. Time to get up-to-speed…

There are of course some fundamental resources, by influential thought leaders of the industry, on the role of Product Manager itself (eg. Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager — Ben Horowitz or A Product Manager’s Job — Josh Elman). However, below resources focus more on the specifics; the stories, tools and frameworks useful solving the day-to-day challenges.

The list is a first shot, I compiled it from a few months of reading…feel free to comment and share your favorite resources!

Product Development

Product Strategy in a Growing Company (Video, 0h19min) — Great talk by Des Traynor on aspects of product development, eg. Feature creep and products vision.

Dropbox’s Head of Design on the Dawn of Personalized Products (Article) — Head of Dropbox design explains the 4 key ways to create personalized products.

Enchanted Objects: The next wave of the web (Presentation) — Inspirational examples of how product tap into underlying “magic”

Guide to Product Planning: Three Feature Buckets (Article) — Easy to use framework on clustering features, make sure you know WHY you are creating a feature.

Lean Product Management (Video, 1h21min) — Very thorough description of steps taken in product management, including numerous frameworks on devising and testing consumer concepts.

Problem Discovery

The GV research sprint: a 4-day process for answering important startup questions (Article) — In-depth look into how Google Ventures helps new startups research and discovery user problems. It links to 4 detailed articles, describing each of the 4 day-sprint. There is also a video (1h38min) available of Michael Margolis explaining the process.

Start Up Ideas (Article) — Very nice essay from Paul Graham, founder of Y-Combinator, on changing your frame-of-mind when thinking up new start-up ideas. Key advice to “Live in the future and build what seems interesting”!

Lean Startup & Experimentation

Google I/O 2014 The design sprint: from Google Ventures to Google (Video, 0h45min) —Similar to the Research Sprint, this video share how GV takes the next step to help their ventures brainstorm/create ideas in their 5-day Design Sprint.

Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users (Article) — Simple evidence that testing ideas with 5-users is sufficient

The Case for Talking to Users in the Age of Big Data (Article) — Short case sharing the importance of Data next-to qualitative consumer research

Design for Continuous Experimentations (Presentation) — Nice presentation on how Etsy.com does their testing and how to avoid creating features people don’t use.

Habits and Behaviors

The 7 Habits of Breakthrough Innovators (Presentation) — Amy Jo Kim, co-creator of The Sims, presented her ideas on testing and co-creating (gamified) products at the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (Book) — Fundamental book on product creation (mainly Apps). This book, like ‘The Lean Start-up’ is starting to lead a new movement in product management.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Book) — great book on basic construction of habits, Cue…Routine….Reward. Including ways to change/create habits.

Business Models

Disrupting beliefs: A new approach to business-model innovation (Article)McKinsey look at how new technologies and connectivity are changing business-models.

How Design Thinking Transformed Airbnb from a Failing Startup to a Billion Dollar Business (Article) — Inspirational article on how Airbnb kicked-off and overcame the first key barriers

The Business Model Navigator: 55 Models That Will Revolutionise Your Business (book) — This book describes the “55 business models that are responsible for 90% of the world’s most successful companies”. Very useful clustering of some well-known models (eg “Razor and Blade”) and lesser known models (eg. “Robin Hood”, “Ingredient Branding”).


Experiments at Airbnb (Article) — In-depth article on how Airbnb performs feature testing. Quite detailed, but good to get a flavor of the level of detail covered by the data teams at Airbnb.

Babe Ruth and feature lists: why prioritized feature lists can be poisonous (Article) — Very nice insight on how feature prioritization can go wrong.

How to choose the right UX metrics for your product (Article) — Framework, created by Google analytics team, to identify clear, goal-oriented metrics for your product/feature testing.

Technology (IoT)

11 Ways to Design ‘Smart’ Products That Will Live Beyond Tomorrow (Article) — Compelling article, capturing the aspects of the connected/smart products of the future.

How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition (Article) — Fundamental article from HBR on how to develop IOT related products and platforms.

Organizational Change

Getting to yes for corporate innovation (Article) — Interesting Article by-the great- Steve Blank on processes in corporate innovation, including how to overcome the roadblocks.

A former Google exec on how to make tough decisions quickly (Article) — Great article on decision making, including some nice practical tips.

Speed as Habit (Article) — Similar to the article above, Dave Girouard, CEO of Upstart, shares his experience and viewpoint on how to speed up decision making in organizations. “I believe that speed, like exercise and eating healthy, can be habitual”.

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