These are some of the books we mention in our workshops and coaching sessions.
On Products and Product Management
Look Beyond the Product: The business of agile product management by Steve Johnson of Under10 Playbook. Today’s agile development methods are great but don’t miss the forest for the trees. You still need a vision, a roadmap, and clarity of team roles to succeed. Look Beyond the Product explains what today’s executives need to know about agile development methods and the business of managing products.
Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan is a good start for anyone planning to be a product manager. Cagan explains the challenges, the methods and approaches, and uses real-life examples to help drive his concepts.
Product Management For Dummies by Brian Lawley and Pamela Schure covers a broad scope of topics in everyday language with lots of checklists and templates. Beyond the product topics, they explore different roles and titles, plus a nice chapter on planning your own career path. A great intro for the new product manager.
The Product Manager's Desk Reference by Steven Haines. Need to do a competitive SWOT analysis? See page 166. Need a strategic plan? It's there too. Particularly for new product managers, this is the source for practical methods. You won't read this; it's not that kind of book. Instead, you'll keep it handy for when you need a template or method that's new to you.
Building Insanely Great Products by David Fradin. In Building Insanely Great Products, author David Fradin combines personal experiences, industry history, and powerful tools and techniques for a broad tour of product management activities. Fradin using his SPICES metaphor—Strategy, Process, Information, Customers, Employees, and Systems & tools—to touch on the most important aspects of product management.
The Art of Product Management: Lessons from a Silicon Valley Innovator by Rich Mironov offers a series of quick-read to explore how product management is practiced, particularly in Silicon Valley. One of my favorites is "Parenting and The Art of Product Management"which is spot-on and also funny. Also see "Where should PM report?" and "Product Management is Inherently Political." This isn't theory; it's real-world lessons from someone who's been a product leader in Silicon Valley for decades. The articles are easy to read but keep a pad nearby because you'll take lots of notes!
The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management by Tom DeMarco. Imagine a management book wrapped in a novel. Our hero has been kidnapped to run a software venture, with too many resources. What to do? Run a series of experiments with teams that are too small and too large to see which are most productive. This is a fun read for product managers, development managers, and people managers.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Implementing change in your organization? You need to understand the three forces of change: the driver; the elephant, and the path. (Don’t worry; it makes sense in the book).