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The 5 Best Product Management Books For Every Product Person In 2021

No matter where you are in your career, every product manager should be learning to level up their career. Product Management is a field of constant learning after all. One of the easiest ways to keep your skills sharp is to consume the best product management books available.

The field is constantly changing. The best books available last year may not reflect the evolution of the field.

Many of the core tenants and concepts of product management stay the same but there are constantly new ways of doing product management.

5 Best Product Management Books For Beginners

If you are just starting your product management career, you need variety and foundations. This list of five books will give you just that.

These books written by some of the greatest product management minds provide a broad and deep overview of the product management field.

What these books won’t necessarily provide is a glimpse into the day-to-day activities of the product management role.

Becoming familiar with the topics presented in these books will prepare you for your first product manager job.

Book 1: Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

Author: Marty Cagan

Marty Cagan runs the Silicon Valley Product Group. SVPG is a training and coaching group for product managers.

If you have the opportunity to attend a training by SVPG or Marty Cagan, you should. It will advance your learning and career, guaranteed.

Inspired dives into the weeds of how great products are built. “Great” in this context means products that customers love.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle and Audible.)

Book 2: Crossing the Chasm

Author: Geoffrey Moore

No matter how you slice it, product management has marketing responsibilities. You need to be sure that your products can be sold in the marketplace.

Crossing the Chasm introduces readers to the foundation of any product growth strategy – the technology adoption curve.

This book will give you the foundations to understand how to position, market, and grow the products you build.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle.)

Book 3: The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win

Author: Steve Blank

Many of the books on customer discovery on this list are based on Steve Blank’s methods.

Customer discovery is the process of iteratively understanding and learning customers’ needs and pain points.

Fair warning that this book reads like a textbook. But many of the other books you read in your career will base their methods on these foundations.

Buy on Amazon

Book 4: Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters

Author: Ryan Singer

This book comes from the fine folks over at Basecamp. Ryan Singer documents the Basecamp way of building products.

This book presents a fresh way of building products that stresses the need for team autonomy, bets, and a process of “shaping” solutions.

Ryan Singer challenges much of the status quo for day-to-day product teams.

Read Online (Free)

Book 5: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Author: Eric Ries

The Lead Startup builds on The Four Steps to the Epiphany and distills it down into a framework for building successful startups.

This book is often cited as the quintessential book for entrepreneurs. And product managers have to behave like entrepreneurs.

For product managers, The Lean Startup is an important lesson on questioning assumptions and building processes for continuous improvement.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle and Audible)

5 Top Product Management Books For Senior Product Managers

Book 1: Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value

Author: Teresa Torres

If you aren’t subscribed and reading Teresa Torres’ blog, Product Talk, you should be. Teresa’s content and training focus on the importance of discovery in the product management process.

Continuous Discovery Habits is essential reading for Senior Product Managers who are now responsible for helping guide a team’s culture.

If The Four Steps To The Epiphany is the “what,” Continuous Discovery Habits is the “how.” This book will give you a detailed guide on how to bake customer discovery into everything you do as a product manager.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle)

Book 2: Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

Author: Annie Duke

As a product manager, you are required to make important decisions every day. Decisions that have can have great consequences.

Thinking in Bets is a perspective on making smarter decisions. Even if you don’t subscribe to these methods, this book will provide a necessary introspection on your decision-making process.

And hopefully, after reading this, you will have all-new ways to evaluate tough decisions.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle and Audible)

Book 3: Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems

Author: Steve Krug

While not always in the job description of all product managers, understanding usability will go a long way for most product managers.

Sometimes you may find yourself in a bind and need validation but don’t have resources for a formal usability test.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy provides a practical and easy-to-follow process for running a usability test.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle)

Book 4: How to Lead in Product Management: Practices to Align Stakeholders, Guide Development Teams, and Create Value Together

Author: Roman Pichler

Let’s face it. As a senior product manager, your job is no longer always tactical. Your to-do list has shifted from “do this thing” to “think about this thing.”

You are spending more time communicating and leading and less time writing detailed acceptance criteria. Though do we ever get out of writing acceptance criteria?

How to Lead in Product Management goes beyond the tactical day-to-day of customer discovery, problem validation, etc. Instead, this book focuses on how to lead as a product manager.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle and Audible)

Book 5: Emotionally Intelligent Design: Rethinking How We Create Products

Author: Pamela Pavliscak

Product people don’t often talk about the emotion of products. Sure, we talk a lot about having empathy for customers. But we often gloss over how a product makes the user feel.

How do our products support (or hinder) the emotional well-being of our users?

Emotionally Intelligent Design weaves together the latest research with practical applications for building more emotionally intelligent products.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle)

5 Books for Leaders

As a product management leader, you probably hear about new methods and frameworks constantly. Many are fads, but some create real transformation in the way product teams work.

These five books are great examples of concepts, methods, and frameworks that challenge the way product managers discover and build successful products.

Book 1: Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results

Author: Christina Wodtke

Chances are you have at least heard about OKRs (Objectives & Key Results).

Radical Focus is an accessible and value-packed overview of using OKRs to help your team achieve important goals.

Told half as a parable of a team and half as practical how-to, Radical Focus will get you started using OKRs in no time.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Audible)

Book 2: Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products

Author: Marty Cagan & Chris Jones

The not-so-secret component to consistent innovation is empowered product teams.

Product teams that are empowered to do their best work will consistently innovate beyond their imagination.

Marty Cagan’s latest book Empowered dives into the deep to describe what an empowered team looks like and how to transform your organization and teams.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle and Audible)

Book 3: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Author: James Clear

Atomic Habits has made its rounds on almost all leadership book lists for the last few years. But it’s on this list for a different reason.

The methods in this book can be applied to product teams. Not the individuals on a team, as beneficial as that may be, but as a whole team.

The principles of continuous improvement, identity, and habit formation can be applied to entirely transform how your team works.

If you have already read this book, try reading it again while asking yourself how you might apply the concepts to your team.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle and Audible)

Book 1: Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value

Author: Teresa Torres

Spend a year and combine Continuous Discovery Habits with Atomic Habits and your team will be completely different in 12 months. Guaranteed.

Teresa Torres masterfully lays out a detailed process for product managers to conduct discovery every single day.

Implement these habits among your team and the products your team builds will shift dramatically.

Buy on Amazon (Available on Kindle)

Book 5: Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters

Author: Ryan Singer

Shape Up by the fine folks at Basecamp is an essential read for any product management leader. The process for building products at Basecamp challenges much of what we have come to know as Agile.

Interested in a world beyond the 2-week sprint? Shape Up is for you.

Read Online (Free)

If you can only buy one…

There are the lists. Product management books for everyone. But there are still a lot of options. And your bedside stack of books to read is already nearly toppling.

So what is the one book should you consider?

Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value

Discovery is the most critical and often overlooked activity for many product teams. Assumptions get stacked upon assumptions and we move along swiftly to development.

Continuous Discovery Habits challenges product managers to engrain discovery as a daily habit in everything we do.

This book will make you a better product person regardless of which of the product manager jobs you perform.

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