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Paul McAvinchey
Co-founder of Product Collective
Asked a question 11 months ago

What book (or books) has helped you become a better product manager?

Where am I?

In Product Collective Answers you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

Ant Murphy
Product Coach and Consultant | Occasional Cat Herder 🐈

Top book (this will seem like a strange one) but it was 'Range143' by David Epstein. A book about "how generalists triumph in a specialized world" an amazing book it really taught me why generalists make better Product Managers102 and where my role as a PM really sits on a team.

Which is not to be an expert but rather to have a broad range of skills/understanding across the many facets of product (from tech to marketing to user science, etc) to leverage this knowledge in order to solve wicked problems - or at least ask the right questions of the experts around me in order to best solve the problem.

Other books that have had a great impact on my skills as a PM (in no particular order)...

Product Thinking:

Leadership:

Product Discovery Coach Teresa Torres also has a good reading list here123.

Mind the Product also have a list of Product Book here too139.

In no particular order...

  • The Product Manager's Desk Reference
  • The Effective Executive
  • The First 90 Days
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Never Split The Difference
  • The Hard Things About Hard Things
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK

There are several books that have helped me become a better product person, but I’m going to list three here that may not get mentioned otherwise:

Specification by Example: How Successful Teams Deliver the Right Software by Gojko Adzic. If you want to get a better understanding of how to use examples to describe what you’re building and improve your acceptance testing, this is the book for you. Gojko provides clear explanations about how to use examples, and he shares real stories from several teams on how they actually use it.

Commitment: Novel About Managing Project Risk by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts, and Chris Geary If you want to understand the difference between commitments and options and how to use the idea behind real options (Options have value. Options expire. Never commit early unless you know why.) to determine when to decide, you should read this book. Even better, it’s a graphic novel (i.e. comic book) so it’s a fairly easy read.

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 I included this book because it has some great advice on how to get information from customers in a manner that counteracts the cognitive biases that are so prevalent in product development. Even though this book focuses on customer interviews, there is a lot of great information in here about interviews in general.

Top 10, in no particular order and with very little context, but here it is:

  • The Innovator's Dilemma (in case you're fortunate enough to have the opportunity)
  • The Goal (for project and resource management principles)
  • The Gift (because feedback is critical)
  • The PRODBOK (an attempt at a framework for our profession)
  • Getting to Yes (because negotiation is a daily task)
  • The First 90 Days (in case you're starting a new position in product)
  • Working with Emotional Intelligence (this is our super power)
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (because you're going to work on a team that has at least one of these)
  • Principles of Microeconomics (because product decisions should be informed by principles of economics)
  • The Art of Happiness (you may know your what and how, but do you know your why?)

 

There are some great (free) books from basecamp that I usually ask PMs early on in the career to read;

That contain a lot of practical advice on designing, building and bringing a product to market. Some realistic and practical advice that acknowledges the constraints you will likely hit.

Danie Karaplis
Product Leader | Treasurer, getWITit Cleveland Chapter

This is going to sound out there, but Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis.  This one is particularly for women, but women in tech will appreciate it. The message is about following your passions and building your confidence. It helped me be more confident when determining the path of my career. 

Some others I think are worth reading are:

  • Competing Against Luck - Clayton Christiansen
  • INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love - Marty Cagan
  • Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself - Wes Bush

And if you are hiring people:

  • The Ideal Team Player - Patrick Lencioni

Enjoy!

Some great reads here! Other books not listed (so far) that I've found beneficial:

  • Crossing the Chasm
  • The Lean Startup
  • Scientific Advertising (though almost 100 years old, the principles are still very much relevant today!)

The "Blue Ocean Strategy" is essential to understand the main reasons of a product of sucess. 

However, the most complete book on Product Management are:

Title

AuthorsYear
The Product Manager's Survival GuideSteven Haines2019
Mastering Product ManagementKevin Bremman2019
Product Management for DummiesBrian Lawley, Pamela Schure2017
The Product Manager's Desk ReferenceSteven Haines2014
The Product Manager's HandbookLinda Gorchels2012
Product ManagementLehman, Winer2005
The Product Manager's Field GuideLinda Gorchels2003

 

Only to add one more to this list of great books:

”Escaping the build trap” by Melissa Perry