5 Books Every Product Manager Should Read

I am frequently asked by new and old product managers what books, magazines, articles, authors I’d suggest to help them in the field. This is no easy task as product management is a varied and wide-ranging subject, from design, engineering management of people and psychology of users. There are a lot of great books, but I have always come back to some.

I put here together some of the must-have books for product managers. I limited myself to 5 because or else this might be too big. But these are the books that I have found useful and regularly go back for inspiration, details and even article ideas.

Lean Analytics

Lean Analytics is a great book that helped me understand how to create great metrics, KPIs and OKRs for products. It also explained how not to fall on vanity metrics and understand the value of data-driven products.

It has great tips and tricks on handling data, creating a data culture within products and teams.

Worth a read.

Product Book

This is the best handbook on product management that I’ve ever read.I’ve used it as a solid template in building product teams and shaping organizations.It is primarily written for product managers and outlines the roles and best practices for product teams.  It gathers insights and lessons from very productive and successful product managers in Tech Giants.

Honestly, if you don’t read any other book, this could probably get you started on the road to creating great products. However, he does reference and pulls ideas from many places, so the more familiarity you have with things like lean, agile, research, organization, etc., the more you’ll get out of this book.

Not only does this book outline best practices, but it calls out the things to avoid. It is also very much worth re-reading. As with any book, the lessons you’re likely to take out of it depend on what you are currently experiencing.

Inclusive design for Products

Professor Jonathan Hassell has over 18 years of experience of embedding accessibility within digital production teams in FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies worldwide. He set the accessibility standards and strategy for BBC Future Media and authored ISO 30071–1 and it’s predecessor BS 8878 to help share this best-practice with other organizations to help them get more customers by making their goods and services easily available to disabled and older people.

He runs multiple workshops and helps companies and organizations to be more inclusive. I have met Professor Hassell on several occasions, and his knowledge and passion are infectious.  This book includes lessons from many years creating inclusive products and the guidelines to not make product compliant but to make product inclusive. This can foster great innovation and major gains, seeing that 20% of the population has some sort of disability and your product is losing that share.

It is a great read, as we get into an era of inclusive tech, websites, and services. This book can change your mindset on how we think a product should be, and what is accessibility.

Making of a manager

This is one of my favourite books that I’ve read in the past few months. Julie Zhuo stellar career is an example, and the way that she transmits her journey to VP of design of Facebook and the struggles, challenges, and beating that imposter syndrome is truly inspiring.

I believe that everyone should read this book, not only product managers but if you have any kind of responsibility to a team, this should be your guide.

Lean Startup

This book pretty much started a revolution in how we create products, and manage the lifecycle of products, especially in tech.As a product manager, you need to understand the principles of lean. Whether it is for a startup or a large company, the principles are largely the same, but the impact can be different. From principles of validated learning, rapid experimentation and shorted development cycles to understand customers and deliver great value.The *Lean Startup* is pretty fundamental to product development these days. Some might assume that everybody is familiar with these principles, but you would be surprised. This book will make you a better product manager, with and will make your products better.

Bonus: Don’t Make me think

This is a classic book. Steve Krug sets some basic principles on the usability of interfaces and shares them with professionals working in this field which makes the book one of the top essential resources recommended for UX designers. Don’t Make Me Think describes the key points, examples and insights which are important to know about website usability. The major idea is to create designs with which users wouldn’t need to think too much how the interface works — this way it becomes not the only problem -solving but also easy to use. There are some classic quotes from the book:

As a user, I should never have to devote a millisecond of thought to whether things are clickable-or not.

So there it is. My top 5 (+1) books for product managers. It was pretty difficult to narrow this down to just 5 books. There are a ton of great options out there that I could include here.

But I truly feel like these 5 books lay an incredibly solid foundation for product managers, old, new or aspiring. So if you have read any of these before, you and your organisation will benefit from these principles, concepts and failures.

Enjoy & comment with your suggestions!

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