54 Books For Product Managers To Have On Their Shelves
There is so much information available for product managers these days, compared to when I started out twenty years ago when product management wasn’t even a thing.
The challenge is seeing through all the noise to find the ones that you need!
6 Books To Help Your Product Discovery
We all have ideas for ways to improve things.
They might come to us when we’re queueing at Starbucks for our coffee, or when we’re standing in the shower. We might hear some feedback from our customer and put this together with another customer’s feedback and get that spark of inspiration.
The difference between product people and non-product people is that product people do something about the idea. They want to take the idea and figure out whether it is viable and what it will take to get it off the ground.
- The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick
- The Right It: Why So Many Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed by Alberto Savoia
- What’s Your Problem?: To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
- Loonshots: Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall
- Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation by David J. Bland & Alexander Osterwalder
- The Art of Logic: How to Make Sense in a World that Doesn’t by Eugenia Cheng
6 Books To Help Your Product Delivery
There’s no point in having great user insight and amazing new product ideas if you can’t get these delivered out to customers.
Whether it’s agile, Kanban or waterfall, knowing how to get work delivered through a team is essential for product managers.
I’ve been through Waterfall deliveries that seemed to go on forever, Kanban boards for the new and quick deliveries, and agile for regular delivery of value.
Whichever approach you take though, its only as good as your execution.
- Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
- The Leader’s Guide to Influence: How to Use Soft Skills to Get Hard Results by Mike Brent & Fiona Dent
- Kanban in Action by Marcus Hammarberg & Joakim Sunden
- Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework by Mik Kersten
- Digital Transformation at Scale: Why the Strategy Is Delivery by Andrew Greenway
- User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn
6 Books For Product Managers About UX & Design
User experience design is a concept that has many elements, and it includes a whole host of disciplines; from interaction design and information architecture, to visual design and usability.
Yes, we have people who specialise in this kind of skill.
They’re the trendy folk, with the Macbooks, amusing t-shirts and great taste in music, but that doesn’t mean that product management professionals can’t understand the core principles in this world.
It makes it so much easier to brief a designer if you know what they’re going to have to consider.
- Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems by Steve Krug
- This is Service Design Doing by Marc Stinkdorn, Markus Edgar Hormess, Adam Lawrence, Jakob Schneider
- Graphic Design For Everyone: Understand the Building Blocks so You can Do It Yourself by Cath Caldwell
- UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design by Laura Klein
- User Experience Design: A Practical Introduction by Gavin Allenwood & Peter Beare
- Strategic Writing for UX: Drive Engagement, Conversion, and Retention with Every Word by Torrey Podmajersky
6 Books on User Research for Product Managers
As Product Managers, one of our main goals is to ultimately give users what they want. How do we do that without actually knowing what they want?
The answer is of course, user research.
We use a variety of data collection methods to find out who our target users are, what they expect from the product, and what is going to deliver for them the most value.
Easy when you say it like that, but there’s an art to user research.
- User Research: A Practical Guide to Designing Better Products and Services by Stephanie Marsh
- Think Like a UX Researcher: How to Observe Users, Influence Design, and Shape Business Strategy by David Travis & Philip Hodgson
- Qualitative Consumer and Marketing Research by Russell W. Belk, Eileen Fischer & Robert Kozinets
- You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
- The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect by Judea Pearl & Dana Mackenzie
- Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell
6 Books on Data for Product Managers
As product people, we’re always trying to determine what we need to build next in order to deliver the greatest bit of value to our organizations.
The BARC Research and Eckerson Group Study found that in the years to come, 69% of companies will increase their usage of analytics tools, so it’s probably worth us spending some time reading about what to actually do with the data once we’ve got it.
- The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data by David Spiegalhalter
- Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights by Gary Klein
- Data Science For Dummies by Lillian Pierson
- Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan
- Everybody Lies: What the internet can tell us about who we really are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
- Thinking In Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke
6 Books on Being a Product Leader
When writing this post I went back over my LinkedIn profile and I can go back well over twenty years to a time when I didn’t have the words “Manager”, “Head of” or “Director” in my job title.
My first managerial role was when running a cinema, thrown in, fresh faced from university to run a multi-screen cinema with a team of twenty-five. It wasn’t product management, but I needed to lead the team to deliver the experience that our customers wanted on their enjoyable evening out.
As time has progressed, the output has changed and I’m no longer providing popcorn and fun, and instead I’m making the lives easier for hundreds of people who operate one of the world’s largest luxury watch retailers.
It’s taken me many, many years to get here, and if I’d had some of these books twenty years ago, then maybe I’d have made less mistakes along the way.
- How to Lead in Product Management: Practices to Align Stakeholders, Guide Development Teams, and Create Value Together by Roman Pichler
- Managing Products = Managing Tension by Marc Abraham
- The Product-Led Organization: Drive Growth By Putting Product at the Center of Your Customer Experience by Todd Olson
- The Vision-Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business by Michael Hyatt
- The Team That Managed Itself: A Story of Leadership by Christina Wodtke
- Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
6 Books on OKRs for Product Managers
The goal of OKRs is to define how to achieve the objectives through specific and measurable actions. You then measure your progress toward your key results on a 0–100% scale or any numerical unit (e.g. dollar amount, %, items, etc.).
Objectives should also be supported by initiatives, which are the plans and activities that help to achieve the objective and move forward the key results.
- Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr
- Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results by Christina Wodtke
- Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs by Paul R Niven and Ben Lamorte
- Toolbox Objectives and Key Results: Transparent and agile strategy implementation with OKR by Daniela Kudernatsch
- Start Less, Finish More: Building Strategic Agility with Objectives and Key Results by Dan Montgomery
- The OKRs Field Book: A Step-by-Step Guide for Objectives and Key Results Coaches by Ben Lamorte
6 Books on Remote Working for Product Managers
We’ve had plenty of opportunities over the course of the pandemic to try out different ways of working, and as things begin to settle down into the ‘new normal’, where and how we approach work for many people will have changed.
However, instead of it being a “needs must” situation, where we’re forced to make do with whatever we can in trying circumstances, it will become the way we work, and as such, we should start looking at how we can do this better.
- Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely -Successfully- for Individuals, Teams, and Managers by Lisette Sutherland & K Janene-Nelson
- Leading remote and virtual teams: Managing yourself and others in remote and hybrid teams or when working from home by Kevan Hall & Alan Hall
- Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson & Jason Fried
- Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart by John O’Duinn
- Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees by Hassan Osman
- The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun
6 Books on Productivity for Product Managers
As I’ve got older, I’ve realized that just getting stuff done isn’t the goal. The goal is to get the right things done, at the right time, in order to meet your overall goals.
There’s no point ticking off twenty items on your to do list if you haven’t ticked off the one thing that will take you a step closer to your main goal.
You therefore need to be smart with your time and develop a way that works for you that allows you get done what you NEED to get done.
- Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done — Today! by Brian Tracy
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- Hyperfocus: How to Work Less to Achieve More by Chris Bailey
- The Bullet Journal Method: Track Your Past, Order Your Present, Plan Your Future by Ryder Carroll
- Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life by Arianna Huffington
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H Pink
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