The best product managers are relentlessly curious and grounded in continual learning. They immerse themselves in the study of new books every day.
Since the field of product management is continuously evolving, it becomes imperative to prepare an extensive reading list that goes beyond just course books on product management.
As Charlie Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire argues, product managers must study psychology, advertising, history of war, and even philosophy besides textual books.
When you focus on tangential disciplines like research, productivity, presentation etc., you get a chance to develop your skills that helps you become an adept product manager.
So, here are the best 15 books that will help you do what you do best: Create engaging and satisfying experiences for your customers.
- 1) Free
- 2) Do the work
- 3) Presentation Zen
- 4) Crossing the Chasm
- 5) Analytics at Work
- 6) Complete and Utter Failure
- 7) The art of product management
- 8) Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love
- 9) The Innovator’s Dilemma
- 10) Read this before our next meeting
- 11) Tribe of Mentors
- 12) Swipe to Unlock: The Primer on Technology and Business Strategy
- 13) Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
- 14) The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
- 15) The Product Manager’s Survival Guide: Everything you need to know to succeed as a Product Manager
Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, forces us to take an objective look at how we are pricing our products in his famous book Free.
The book raises one extremely important question – In an era when most products and services are becoming free, can we afford to make our products available only to the paying customers?
Free is also one of the earliest explorations of the freemium strategy model. The book presents a radical approach about how to charge for your products and services, and how giving them away for free can at times be the most lucrative strategy of all.
2) Do the work
This is a fascinating read, penned down by Steven Pressfield. The book is loaded with brilliant suggestions for staying on track during any creative undertaking.
The book explains how managers tend to get stuck in research mode and keep waiting for more data. This happens because they are afraid to move ahead with the product development process which involves building the primary roadmap, presenting it to stakeholders, getting an engineering team going, etc.
Do the Work provides some fantastic strategies about how to set your priorities right so that you can keep moving forward on the productivity of your product’s path.
Written by the best-selling author and popular speaker Garr Reynolds, the book deals with presentations skills that help you design and deliver your arguments confidently.
No matter how well you’ve thought through how brilliant your product’s strategic vision is, it will be impossible to earn the enthusiasm of your users if you present your offers in a convoluted way.
Presentation Zen offers superb ideas to make your arguments and insights resonate as you present them.
Written by Geoffrey A. Moore, the fundamental principles of this book have stood the test of time.
This is a traditional product management book that focuses on how businesses can make that rare and challenging leap from attracting just a small group of early adopters to a full-blown mass-market success.
Crossing the Chasm brilliantly explains how a successful product can make its way through a standard bell curve if you structure your products accordingly.
It provides valuable insights for bringing cutting edge products into the broader market.
In this book, Davenport points out that research can be invaluable for compiling real-world knowledge of your product. It explores metric-driven learning and how it applies to hire, marketing, expanding, etc.
The insights of this book explore how to collect the right data, what tools to use for analyzing it properly, and how to learn from the most successful and data-driven companies.
The read improves your strategic thinking techniques and helps you convince the stakeholders that your thinking is on point.
Neil Steinberg’s Complete and Utter Failure is a hilarious exploration of the fascinating aspects of public failures.
Reading it is bound to remove some of the debilitating fear you have about the possibility that your brand might fail to make a mark.
You can never be sure of the possibility that it might fail. As a matter of fact, statistically speaking, it probably will.
But this book will surely motivate you and cheer you up as it discusses how massively successful corporations have failed miserably and bounced right back.
It would be remiss to not include this excellent book by Rich Mironov in the list of the best product management books.
It offers valuable lessons about adequately equipping your support teams, developing an effective product roadmap, properly implementing agile, etc.
Even though it is mainly designed for product managers working in the field of technology, its principles are broad enough to offer value to a manager in any field.
Here is another excellent product management title, written by Marty Cagan, a longtime product executive for companies like eBay and HP.
Cagan, one of the most successful product managers of modern times, walks us through his hard-won insights about how to identify the right product, how to work with technical teams to get your products built the right way, and the fundamentals of how to be a great product manager.
Clayton Christensen, a professor of Harvard Business School, explains in The Innovator’s Dilemma why most companies miss out on the new waves of innovation.
Brand new technologies and processes hit the market almost every day. Though some marketers try to incorporate new technologies to stay competitive, most leaders fail to adapt to these new realities.
Christensen explains that any successful company with established products might get pushed aside unless managers know when to abandon traditional business practices.
This valuable book addresses just a single topic, i.e. MEETINGS. The quirky book offers great insights about the nitty-gritty of meetings and conferences.
Author Al Pittampalli offers some extremely high-threshold criteria that a manager should meet before being able to call a meeting at all.
The book will give you some great ideas of finding other ways to communicate important information without having to assemble a large group of people in a closed room.
11) Tribe of Mentors
A must-read for all business managers, the book by Timothy Ferris presents a catalogue of advice and experiences from 130+ successful people from all over the world.
It covers all age groups and industries to ‘leave no stone unturned’, as the author likes to put it. Whether you want to try out a more efficient morning routine or prioritize your tasks in a new way.
This book will surely motivate you to stay ahead of the competition and beat the anxiety of failures.
Swipe to Read is a comprehensive text composed by N. Mehta, A. Agashe, and P. Detroja, which discusses the fundamental concepts of technology and business strategy.
The authors, who have worked as product managers on Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, call on their extensive experience and touch upon real-life situations to bring forth how technology is changing the world we live in.
It is a top-read for product managers as well as for anyone who has an interest in marketing, design, consultancy, and business strategy within the tech industry.
This interesting and extremely useful book provides actionable steps and practical insights for building products that people usually appreciate.
Written by Nir Eyal after years of research and experience, the book explains how successful products are based on the Hook Model (a 4-step process that encourages repeat customer behaviour).
Through ‘hook cycles’ products bring users back again and again, consequently saving businesses the costly expense of intense advertising.
Hooked is ideal for designers, marketers, product managers, and startups, who seek to design better products and further understand how products can influence behaviour.
14) The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
In the Lean Startup, author Eric Ries shares his knowledge on how to create a successful startup.
He focuses on understanding what the customers really want and then leads on to discuss how to adjust business and products according to the clients’ preferences.
Ries shares key innovative practices from Facebook, Google, and Toyota, and elaborates on how these strategies can be adapted to work in any business.
I highly recommend this book to all aspiring and current entrepreneurs, as well as every product manager.
15) The Product Manager’s Survival Guide: Everything you need to know to succeed as a Product Manager
The Product Manager’s Survival Guide provides a step-by-step blueprint for thriving in the field of Product Management.
It discusses the best practices and also offers practical on-the-job advice. Already businesses are accelerating at breakneck speed, and customers are demanding a lot more when there are fewer resources than ever.
So, whether you’re a novice product manager or seasoned Management leader — you’ll find everything you need to make consistent positive impacts on your business in this book.
There goes the ‘must-read books’ list for product managers. Each of the books forces you to acknowledge that your business (no matter how successful) can never slow down and rest on its laurels.
Go through these Product Management books thoroughly to increase your business’s productivity noticeably and fetch high ROI.
Keep in mind that true product management is essentially a process of continually learning, innovating, and adapting.
So keep reading to learn how to manage your workflow effectively, reduce the chances of error and maximize productivity.