A room without books is like a body without a soul.
This post was originally written 12 months back when I was relatively new to the world of product management. Expectedly I started with the tactical part of a product strategy and hence my main focus was on the Scrum product owner role and its responsibilities. Let me start by listing down the books I recommended back then.
- Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process, a book by Kenneth S. Rubin
- The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage a book by Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham
- Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love a book by Roman Pichler
- User Stories Applied a book by Mike Cohn
- Agile Software Development with Scrum a book by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle
As one can see the main focus was on the Scrum framework and the Scrum product owner role. I am not saying these are not good books. But with the experience my outlook changed over the last year and now the product, customer discovery interest me more than just the product development. To me exploring the problem space should be as important as working in the solution space. Hence, today I am editing my old post and going to recommend books that will help you in exploring the right customer problems and coming up with a winning product that is loved by its target customers.
Top five product books recommendations:
It was really difficult to pick five from so many good product books available in the market.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The essential notion of Lean thinking is confirmed or validated learning. A lean startup methodology is a scientific approach to launching a startup that draws on user feedback data to guide and speed up the product’s iterative development.
One must follow the build-measure-learn loop and come up with a product that is loved by customers. In this groundbreaking book, Eric introduced new terms like Minimal Viable Products (MVP), Innovation accounting, validated learning and the 5 Why analysis. I must recommend this book if anyone wants to learn how startups work differently than big organisations and how to minimise wastes and come up with a winning product, service.
Book is available online – https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Startup-Entrepreneurs-Continuous-Innovation/dp/0307887898
The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank
I consider The Four steps to the Epiphany as the most underrated product management book. In this book, Steve Blank focuses on customer discovery and the customer validation process. This is the book that launched the Lean Start-Up Revolution. The book provides hands-on instructions on how to go about customers, sales, marketing and building your company at different stages of your business. Steve tells entrepreneurs to come out of the building, talk to the customers and regularly update (fine-tune) the business model.
This book is available as a free download on the internet.
What Customers Want by Anthony Ulwick
This book is based on outcome-based innovation. What Customers Want explains with examples that why it is important to address customer needs rather than just focusing on products and technologies. “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”.
Tony explains three key components of outcome-based innovation:
1) Customers buy products and services to help them get jobs done
2) Customers use a set of metrics to judge how well a job is getting done and how a product performs
3) The customer metrics make possible the systematic and predictable creation of breakthrough products and services.
This book is also available as a free download on the internet.
Inspired by Marty Cagan
Few consider Marty as the father of modern product management. In this book, Marty Cagan explains the role of a product manager in a tech company and what it takes to be a successful product manager. Next, he focuses on the importance of creating the right product culture for success and understanding the range of product discovery and delivery techniques available to solve customer and business problems. This book is divided into five sections:
- Part I: Lessons from top tech companies
- Part II: The right people
- Part III: The right product
- Part IV: The right process
- Part V: The right culture
Whether you’re new to product management or have got some good product management experience under your belt, “Inspired: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love” is a great and valuable read.
“Inspired” is available online on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Inspired-Create-Products-Customers-Love/dp/0981690408
Cracking The PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann
Last but not least Cracking the PM interview, You should refer to this resource, if you aim to join Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Microsoft. Lackman successfully covers and explains how product management works in each of these companies. Book has chapters on PM resume, soft skills, coding, company research, PM role etc. But the section that I liked the most was the Estimation one, there are so many scenarios based questions like how many pizzas are delivered in Manhattan every hour? How do you design an alarm clock for the blind?
This book is also available on Amazon – https://www.amazon.in/Cracking-PM-Interview-Product-Technology-ebook/dp/B00ISYMUR6
Hope you liked my selection of product management books.
Finally, I would like to mention few other great product books for you to refer to:
- Running Lean by Ash Maurya
- Testing Business Ideas by David Bland and Alex Osterwalder
- Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
- The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick
- Hacking Growth By Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
- The Lean product Lifecycle by Tendayi Viki
- The art of thinking clearly by Rolf Dobelli
- Crossing the chasm by Geoffrey Moore