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"Empowered" is the best science fiction book of 2020


When Marty Cagan writes a new book, product people rush to the stores. Or so they should. Marty's reputation ensures the book will have high quality and insights. That's very much the case for the new book Marty has co-written with Chris Jones called "Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products". 

This new book is for product leaders, present and aspiring. "Empowered" goes deep into the "product process", starting from product vision, hiring and coaching of product people, organising teams, creating a productive work environment and eventually achieving product excellence and business success. 

The book might sound familiar to people who regularly read svpg blog. Marty describes how best product teams around the world work and why they achieve extraordinary results. 

Reading "Empowered" I caught myself having a strange feeling - like I was reading a good science fiction book. Everything described made perfect sense, it is smart and believable. And yet the world Marty describes feels not totally real to me. Like a utopia we all are trying to reach but still miles away from being there. 

Surely that's only my humble perception. I realise the companies Marty describes are real and I have no reason to doubt that those companies work the way "Empowered" promotes. I guess like with anything there is 2% of the best and then there is the rest. 

Being the part of the "rest", I accept the way to real empowerment is long and expensive. When I get frustrated about the current situation, which happens quite often, I tend to remind myself of how things were not long ago. For example, even five years ago the concept of product discovery was new and radical to so many businesses. Product managers were "project managers" in disguise and the word "vision" was a reference to a medical condition. 

The path to "Empowered" is long and bumpy, and oh so many of us are still somewhere in the middle of it. Perpetually overworked, rarely satisfied, never done. We need to solve our customers' problems, advance our business, grow our teams, all at the same time as dreaming of the real empowerment. 

No surprise Marty targets his book at leaders. Individual contributors, however brilliant, won't be able to achieve real empowerment on their own. It's leaders who need to understand that they're only as good as their teams. And that the best teams are empowered. 

At least "Empowered" shows what the rest of us should be aspiring to. And like good science fiction it's not that far from being a reality, even for the majority. 

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