Done right, product management is a highly multi-disciplinary role that requires a broad range of knowledge to master. The best books broaden our thinking and remind us of lessons we should have remembered. I try out (and reject) a lot of business books, but these are ones that passed my bar both at first read and over time. I have an aversion to filler content (why tell me the same thing 10 times over?), so you’ll find a tendency towards more concise and practical books below.
Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt — There are lots of books on strategy and few are practical enough for my taste. I appreciated the author’s clarity in this case.
7 Powers, by Hamilton Helmer — Unlike the previous recommendation, this book is fairly dense, but it is deeply thoughtful and worth the work.
Monetizing Innovation, by Madhavan Ramanujam — Product people need to think about pricing and revenue models as something critical to design in lockstep with the product. This is probably the best “starter” book on the topic to get your wheels turning.
The Build Trap, by Melissa Perri — You’ve all probably heard of Marty Cagan’s Inspired, which is the classic PM 101 book, but The Build Trap has become my go-to recommendation. It captures modern product management really well, with the emphasis on building things that actually matter, cross-functional teams, and the need for agility and fluidity.
Creativity Inc, by Ed Catmull — A deep dive into how Pixar works, and a deeply inspiring take on building a culture and business that supports amazing creative execution.
LeanUX, by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden — While the title of this book implies that it’s about design, to me it’s actually about how cross-functional teams can work together well and reduce waste.
High Output Management, by Andy Grove — This book, by the former CEO of Intel, has passed the test of time and influenced many up-and-coming leaders. Definitely still worth the time.
Radical Focus, by Christina Wodtke — A concise, practical book that teaches the how and why around OKRs.
Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman — One of the hardest things for any young PM to learn is how to lead through influence, which includes how to raise up, rather than drag down, their teammates. This book was written for managers of all kinds, but its message is particularly important for PMs.
The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman — You can’t be a good product manager without improving your design sensibility, and this book, now considered a classic, is a good place to start.
User Story Mapping, by Jeff Patton — I think of this book as a cross between a UX and and agile process book. The author gets practical and tactical, but his very tactics force you to get strategic.
Rocket Surgery Made Easy, by Steve Krug — A concise book on usability testing. It’s worth reading to remind yourself both of the importance of usability testing as well as how one can do it in scrappy yet effective way.
Lean Startup / Experimentation
The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries — Eric’s book had a huge influence on how the business world looks at new ideas. It lays the foundation for why one should validate ideas before going all-in.
Talking to Humans, by Giff Constable — A short, practical book on how you can test new business ideas by getting out of your own head and talking to potential customers.
Testing with Humans, by Giff Constable — This practical book focuses on how you test new business ideas through experimentation.
Sense & Respond, by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden — This book lives at the organizational level and builds the case for agility and constant learning in a complex world.
Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kaneman — One of the few really big, complex books on this list, this tome will help you understand how the human mind works, especially our cognitive biases.
Hooked, by Nir Eyal — This book will get your wheels turning about repeat engagement and habit building.
Obviously Awesome, by April Dunford — Smart and easy to read, this book will make you think more carefully and pro-actively about how you position your product and business.
Play Bigger, by Al Ramadan — The central insight to this book is the benefits that come by defining your own category, rather than trying to fit into someone else’s.
Hire Women, by Debbie Madden — This concise book is really about good hiring practices across the board, with lots of practical tips.
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