Get ready for the 5 best Product Management books. I’m sure you’ll love at least one of these books or will find it helpful to overcome your product management challenges, no matter where you are in your career or what stage in your timeline you’re at. These books are written by product managers from a range of large and small companies with various perspectives. I’ve listed the most helpful Amazon reviews below the description in case you need a little extra convincing. Here’s to becoming even better product managers!
For a Deep Dive into your current project
Using the five basic steps of a sprint for each day of the work week, (map, sketch, decide, prototype and test) this book gives a highly replicable step by step roadmap, no matter the size of your company, your team, or your problem. One of the author’s Jake Knapp worked for 10 years at Google where he designed this methodology. Take a minute to even just skim this book, glaze over the techniques, apply it to your current project and then you’ll be able to create better products faster
I'm a product manager and the Sprint Book has been a great new strategy for our product team to validate quickly! It's a flexible method to build on your team's energy and domain knowledge in 5 days. Our team is entirely remote so when we get together it's helpful to have proven strategy guide our product initiatives.
Before starting your project or if you’re stuck and need inspiration/start again
Before getting caught up in the nitty-gritty of executing a project, there are a few crucial questions to ask before you even get started. “How do you decide which product opportunities to pursue?” and “how do you get evidence that the product you are going to task your engineering team to build will be successful?” are just two examples of questions that author Marty Cagan explores. Cagan excites the reader to create a product worth undertaking and asks no-to-so obvious questions that will help you to examine your products. This is definitely the book to read before you start your first job, if you’re stuck or feeling uninspired with the current project, or before you tackle your next.
(It specifically focuses on software, but the larger questions are applicable to anyone)
For product developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and the like; this book delivers on its name. I was recommended Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by a good friend of mine. After reading through the book I can safely say that my perspective has changed in many interesting ways. First off, It solves the mess that most startups seem to have: "Why don't people like my product?" , "Why can't we develop something as good as theirs?", always the questions that plague product development when things don't go according to plans. If you've read Lean Startup, this book puts a stronger foundation on the principles of Eric Ries. I truly believe that this book is a must if you're trying to develop a strong and interesting product.
This is more than just a 101 to Product Planning. This book is not only for the beginner to product planning but also for a more seasoned PM who wants to help convey their planning timeline to their team and stakeholders and manage accordingly. Roadmaps can be convoluted and unorganized especially as the project moves along, but understanding how to be flexible within the unpredictability is a critical skill PM’s must master. This book helps you to do that.
Developing roadmaps for products and services has become a prioritization and political nightmare for most organizations. This book provides a simple, yet appropriately sophisticated, approach to cutting through that mess. The authors recommend tackling roadmaps with a more flexible and realistic process. By decoupling the roadmap from feature lists and product release cycles they have provided product leaders (and teams) with a tool that delivers value to the entire product org. My feeling is that this book could become the go-to manual for product planning in the months and years ahead.
To get Unstuck
This quick read isn’t necessarily geared towards PMs in particular, but it’s focus on beating the “resistance” is extremely useful for any product manager’s timeline advancement. Author Steven Pressfield asks the reader to question what is stalling them and why, how to surpass it, and ultimately how to finish the project. Whether your stalling is because you fear presenting your roadmap to stakeholders, you’re waiting on data, or you’re neglecting to commit to the project, this book will help you work through those “resistances” and start doing.
There are a lot of reviews of those who have read the book. I guess mine stands out in that Do The Work is one of my staple books. I read it once a year - specifically when I'm working on a goal that is taking longer than planned.
New Management Role
As VP of Product Design at Facebook, Julie Zhou has experience in the unique intersection of management and design. Her book “Making of a Manager” shows the balance needed between creativity and managerial skills. She also dives into the transition into becoming a manager and is candid about the awkwardness of it all and the frequent imposter syndrome found in a recently promoted manager. Zhou also reveals her best leadership skills she has developed throughout her time at Facebook and the failures that brought her to where she is today.
I wish "The Making of a Manager" existed during my transition into management! Zhuo manages to capture many of the management ideas that helped grow Facebook into one of the world's largest companies--lessons and new, veteran, or aspiring manager will appreciate. First, she attacks problems in my favorite manner--operating from first principles. There's no advice given that doesn't reflect back on a more general point previously stated in the book. Second, the book doesn't shy away from the more awkward parts of transitioning to management. Those feelings of "imposter syndrome", the strangeness of 1:1s with former peers, giving and receiving feedback, and most importantly setting appropriate expectations. I definitely recommend.