5 Product Management Books I’ve Read More Than Once In 2018

Knowledge area in product management is extremely wide and multifacet, it ranged from knowledge about the market, customers, technology, and product itself to product development process knowledge (e.g. product discovery process, product optimization process, agile methodologies, opportunity prioritization,etc. ) and finally knowledge of individual skills in product management( e.g team building, leadership, team collaboration, time management, stakeholder management,…). Accordingly, significant resources and books have been written for each of these areas.

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Over the last year besides my daily learning routine of getting insights from different articles and blog posts of thought leaders in product management, I’ve read multiple books about product management, here I would like to share with you some of the books that I found more insightful & practical, the ones that convinced me to go and read them once more last year. Here is the list.

Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love

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The second edition of Inspired by Marty Cagan is a must-have book for every product manager. Marty as one of the greatest minds in product management brought together some of the most useful techniques that are results of his several years of experience in some of the biggest tech companies like HP, Netscape, and eBay.

The book composed of 5 parts: the first part of Inspired will share some of the best practices and lessons from the most successful tech companies. The second part of the book is all about the product team and how to optimize the organization for the effectiveness of product teams.

In part three of Inspired, you will explore how to determine what the product team should be working on, you will get how does a right Product Roadmap, Product Vision and Product objectives look like. The fourth part of the book describes the right process that a product team needs to do their job. The emphasis of part four is mainly on product discovery techniques as one of the primary responsibilities of each product manager. The final chapter of the book focused on how does a great product team behaves and how do strong product companies provide their teams with an environment where they can flourish.

The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture

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The messy middle from Scott Belsky (founder of Behance and Chief Product Officer at Adobe) is a book on the journey of creating a product or service, a realistic one! Unlike most of the books on entrepreneurship that are mainly talking about beginning and end of the journey by mentioning some of the outstanding moments, this book is about all the fears, uncertainties, hardships, excitements and pride moments you will face during the journey itself, that’s how journey actually looks like.

The book is full of insights and examples on how to optimize those uphills in your journey and how to persevere the downhills, those insights not only would help you and your team to survive the journey from start to finish but also thrive.

I’ve started reading the book from the second part which is all about optimizing your team, your product, and yourself on the journey of creating a product or a service. Optimize section is full of resources on every aspect of your product, team, and yourself, you will find many insights on building a team, creating the right culture around your team and establishing the right principles, structure, and tools in your organizations.

Instead, the first part of the book is mainly talking about Endurance which aimed to make you familiar with all the inevitable hardships and pains on your journey and how to work through them. If you are a product manager with an entrepreneurial mindset, this book is definitely for you!

Radical Candor: How To Be A Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

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Radical Candor is written for bosses or the people who are struggling with diversity and leadership in their organization. Kim Scott had these impressive experiences of leading a team of seven hundred people at Google and she worked with different teams and leaders at Apple.

In this book, Kim illustrated a practical framework that helps you how to be a better boss followed by many practical suggestions and stories from her experiences.

While the first part of the book mainly talking about how to help your team to bring their whole selves to work, how to create a culture of open communication, understanding what motivates each person on your team and how to drive results collaboratively, the second part is a step-by-step how-to handbook for building strong relationships with your direct reports and it guides you to fulfill your key responsibilities like a boss: to guide your team to achieve results.

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

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The Lean Startup’s of Eric Ries is not a new book on tech entrepreneurship, Lean Startup principles are one of today’s best methods for innovators and company builders of all sizes in different industries.

The Lean Startup is a fundamental book that provides you with actionable ways to accelerate product-learning through experiments and product mistakes, helping you to validate your learning and decide whether to preserve or to pivot to ultimately build a sustainable business.

The book is divided into 3 sections: Vision, Steer, and Accelerate. In the first part “Vision” you will find a new way of measuring progress in startups called Validated Learning, entrepreneurs can use this scientific experimentation method to discover how to build a sustainable business. The second part of the book dives into the Lean Startup method and it’s core Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. You will learn how to build a minimum viable product (MVP) to test your assumptions, how to evaluate whether you are making progress, and accordingly decide whether to pivot or persevere. Eventually on the last part “Accelerate” you will explore how to facilitate the process of Build-Measure-Learn loop.

The Mom Test: How to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you

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The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick is about how to get talking to customers right. This book is a practical how-to and full of tricks and examples on how to talk to your customers properly.

It includes most of the elements of an efficient good conversation with customers. In this book, you will get how to choose your customer and talk to the right people, once you’ve found the right people you need to know what to do before and after the customer interview process to run a valuable interview session. While talking to your customer you need to ask useful questions, The Mom Test teaches you how asking good and important questions and identifying the right facts of your talk & avoiding different types of bad information, would help you to get your conversation with a customer on the right track.