Back in 2015, after about a year into my work on this blog, I put together a reading list that encompassed the fundamental books that I thought every Product Manager should read — and I still stand by the list: A Product Management Reading List. But, that was almost two years ago and a lot of good books have crossed my path between then and now. So, without further ado, I give you an updated list of PM reading materials for you to peruse to your hearts’ content (and, as always, there are no referral codes on these books, and only one was provided to me free of charge — noted in its listing).
Product Management Basics
• Product Management for Dummies By Brian Lawley & Pamela Schure There’s long been a drought in good from-the-basics books focused on the discipline of Product Management; this has been broken by the work of Brian Lawley and Pamela Schure here with Product Management for Dummies! Name aside, this book has great insight and suggestions for Product Managers of all stripes, while establishing fundamentals for those interested in entering the profession. Note: a free copy of this book was provided to the Clever PM for review.
• Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In By Roger Fisher, William Ury, & Bruce Patton As Product Managers, we’re constantly being asked to engage in a wide variety of negotiations with our co-workers and stakeholders — and sometimes even our management teams. Fisher & Ury’s handbook to negotiation is the go-to primer on knowing how to move the needle when engaged in such discussions without giving up the things that you absolutely need.
• Presenting to Win By Jerry Weissman There’s not a single Product Manager out there who isn’t required to present their ideas in many different contexts; in fact, for some of us it’s the crux of our position in the company. In this great guide, Jerry Weissman outlines an actionable and interesting approach to solving some of the biggest issues that presenters face, from establishing rapport and attention to focusing on telling your story, and all the way to crafting your slide deck to effectively drive to the outcome you need.
User Experience & Research
• About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design By Alan Cooper, et al If there’s one secondary skill that I strongly believe all Product Managers should pick up, it’s a basic understanding of interaction design and user experience. About Face is one of the most approachable, yet comprehensive books on the subject available on the market, from a leader in the industry for decades. This book won’t make you an amazing designer overnight, but it will build within you an understanding of the importance and complexity involved in creating effective product designs.
• Tuned In By Craig Stull, et al In this interesting and engaging work, Craig Stull and his collaborators outline a six-step process that they’ve developed over the past 15 years to accelerate the identification of innovative and entrepreneurial opportunities that will actually solve customer problems. The framework is a great tool to add to your Product Management repertoire.
• Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days By Jake Knapp (w/ John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz) Authored by three partners from Google Ventures, Sprint provides a practical and applicable guide to testing hypotheses about your products, your market, and your company with a minimum of effort and a maximum return, all within a short period of time.
• Predictably Irrational – By Dan Ariely As Product Managers, one of the things that we’re constantly expected to do is to anticipate the responses that our users will have to our products, our solutions, and our designs. And, unfortunately, these responses can sometimes appear to be irrational and unpredictable. But appearances can be deceiving — the concept explored by researcher Dan Ariely in this wonderful book that delves into how we can identify patterns and understand how hidden forces that are entirely knowable can impact the outcomes we expect to achieve.
• Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness By Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein One of the most important aspects of human behavior that we have to know and understand in order to be effective Product Managers is how people make choices. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein present an in-depth analysis of how, why, and when people make decisions, which can inform many of our decisions from priority to implementation to positioning and sales support.
Leadership & Communication
• Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz By Frank J. Barrett I’ve been a fan of jazz music for a long time – the way in which disparate artists can jump together and with little guidance or structure create improvisation music that flows, merges, separates, and comes back together has always fascinated me. In this great book, Frank Barrett takes these lessons and applies them to the chaos of the business world in a fun, interesting, and compelling work.
• Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly By Bernadette Jiwa It’s never enough to just have a good idea, and it’s rarely enough to have a solid technological solution — the magic of creating a successful product lies in telling a story that your customers connect to in a profound and meaningful way. Bernadette Jiwa’s book guides us through the process of building that story and making connections that go beyond mere problem/solution statements. A must-have for every Product Manager.
• Thinking: Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman In this insightful exploration of the brain, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner for Economics, Daniel Kahneman explores the two primary modes in which our brains work — the fast, intuitive, and emotional versus the slower, deliberate, and logical. Every Product Manager needs to understand what it is that drives human behavior, and Kahneman provides excellent insights and techniques that we can all use to lead through influence.
• Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking By Susan Cain There are a lot of introverts in technology, in fact it sometimes seems as though they almost outnumber the extroverts. Susan Cain’s excellent book outlines many of the risks that we take on by under-valuing the contributions that introverts make, and provides excellent examples on how to seek out and elicit the insights held by those who innovate and create, but do not seek out self-promotion. Understanding how to work with introverts is a key indicator of the effectiveness of any Product Manager.
The Clever PM has been a B2B product manager for over 10 years in a variety of industries, and is a passionate advocate for agile, effective Product Management. This blog is devoted to providing tips, tricks, and hacks to make people better, more clever Product Managers.