Last time I mentioned five books that helped me to get into product management, better understand the role and challenges PMs face. This time around, let's look at product management books that will help an experienced PM to further improve.
Product management craft is always changing. New methodologies emerge, old ones become less effective. PMs are constantly pressured to improve themselves, learn new ways and be on the same page with thought leaders.
Here are five books that helped me to deepen my PM knowledge and broaden my horizons.
The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business
by Clayton M. Christensen
Without a doubt a legendary business book. It is massively useful for PMs to change our point of view on building products feature-first way. Jobs-to-be-done was a massive eye-opener for me. It gets PMs right back to the very basics of our roles: uncovering real problems. Not even mentioning how it changes the way we think about our competitors or partners. This book must be on every PM's desk.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
by Nir Eyal
There are no other books that I know of that combines product development with behavioural psychology in a practical, simple and engaging way. Nir's book for years now served as a "bible" for almost any consumer-focused digital business. It's easy to see why. "Hooked" is almost a step-by-step guide on how to build habit-forming, engaging products. If you want to better understand your customer's behaviour - Nir's book is a must-read.
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull
It's hard to create a successful product, but it's much, much harder to create two successful products. To keep creating successful products one after another requires having clever and incredible resilience. Ed Catmull in his book goes into details of how Pixar works and how it managed to be successful for some many years, creating one hit movie after another. Ed talks about dealing with people, ideas, projects, decision-making and much more. Yes, there is a chapter on Steve Jobs, which teaches PMs an important lesson.
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
by Jake Knapp
Many people still think creativity is a mystery that is completely random and unrepeatable. Well, it's not. "Sprint" book tells us how to be creative when we need it. Five days of highly structured work will help you solve almost any problem or learn a great deal about the problem you're struggling with. A design sprint is how Google work, is how any innovative organisation works. Being able to organise and benefit from a design sprint is a core skill for a modern PM.
The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman
Of course this timeless classic needs to be in the first five. Every PM should know the basics of good design. We need to understand design principles, basics of information architecture and be able to at least name types of memory (procedural and declarative). Why you love to use some products and absolutely hate to use some other? Why it's a design mistake if you can't figure how to turn on a microwave? How to create a phone that even your grandma will be able to use? All of the above and much more in this book.
I expect most product people to be familiar with the books above. If you're not - don't tell anyone, just go and read. In future posts, I'll look at less obvious reading options for PMs to deepen their knowledge.