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7 Best Books for Product Managers to Navigate the Product Management Landscape

Cover Image - 7 Best Books for Product Managers to Navigate the Product Management Landscape

You'll find a plethora of books to help product managers stay on top of the game. These are some of the best books for product managers that offer insights, advice and best practices for the job.

These are some of the best product management books to help bring a product to market. These books on product management cover a range of topics from customer interviews to market research and analysis.

Table of Contents

The Lean Product Playbook, by Dan Olsen

The Lean Product Playbook is considered the best book for management of product design and production. It provides a step-by-step guide for product managers to build successful products using the Lean methodology. It covers the importance of minimum viable product development and rapid customer feedback in product launch. This Lean product management book focuses on early validation of product ideas and reiteration.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, peel more layers of the onion off, and you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.

The Lean Product Process consists of six steps: a) Determine your target customers, b) Identify underserved customer needs, c) Define your value proposition, d) Specify your minimum viable product (MVP) feature set, e) Create your MVP prototype, and f) Test your MVP with customers.

First and foremost, the product needs to be available when the user wants to use it. After that, the product's response time needs to be fast enough to be deemed adequate. The next tier pertains to the product's quality.

The main reason products fail is because they don't meet customer needs in a way that is better than other alternatives.

Good personas convey the relevant demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and needs-based attributes of your target customer.

The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman

The Design of Everyday Things delves into the importance of design and user experience in the success of a product. It explains topics such as human-centred design, usability testing and error prevention to show the impact of design. You'll get a comprehensive understanding of the design process and how critical having a designer mindset is.

Top 5 Lessons from the book:

Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.

Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible.

Principles of design: a) Use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head, b) Simplify the structure of tasks, c) Make things visible, d) Get the mappings right, e) Exploit the power of constraints, f) Design for error, and g) When all else fails, standardize.

Rule of thumb: if you think something is clever and sophisticated, beware – it is probably self-indulgence.

A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all: solve the correct problem.

Also Read: 7 Best Books for Graphic Designers to Inspire Creativity

When Coffee and Kale Compete, by Alan Klement

When Coffee and Kale Compete provides a framework for product managers to understand how customers make decisions. The book is meant to help them create products that are more attractive to customers. It covers many product-related topics, like customer segments and customer needs. You'll also be able to understand the importance of having a differentiated and unique value proposition.

Top 3 lessons from the book:

We can’t build the products of tomorrow when we limit ourselves to the needs and expectations associated with the products of today.

All models are wrong, but some are useful.

The desire every customer has is to improve themselves and their life situations.

The Mom Test, by Rob Fitzpatrick

The Mom Test is the best product management book to understand the process of customer interviews. It’s a practical guide to talking to prospective customers and taking feedback. It covers the importance of focusing on customer problems and outcomes, rather than features and ideas. This book is a guide for product managers on conducting effective customer research and product validation. And it has practical tips on structuring customer interviews.

Top 5 lessons from the book:

Trying to learn from customer conversations is like excavating a delicate archaeological site. The truth is down there somewhere, but it’s fragile.

It boils down to this: you aren’t allowed to tell them what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem; you own the solution.

Rule of thumb: You should be terrified of at least one of the questions you’re asking in every conversation.

The world’s most deadly fluff is: “I would definitely buy that.”

“Do you think it's a good idea?" Awful question! Only the market can tell if your idea is good. Everything else is just opinion.

Also Read: 14 Best Books for Communication Skills

Hooked, by Nir Eyal

Hooked is a book with a framework for product managers to build products that engage users and form habits. It provides practical advice on how to create and implement triggers and rewards in product design. The book also explains the importance of creating a strong user community and how to sustain user engagement over time.

Top 5 lessons from the book:

Users who continually find value in a product are more likely to tell their friends about it.

For new entrants to stand a chance, they can’t just be better. They must be nine times better.

All humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek hope and avoid fear, and finally, to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection.

As customers form routines around a product, they come to depend upon it and become less sensitive to price.

Many innovations fail because consumers irrationally overvalue the old while companies irrationally overvalue the new.

Inspired, by Marty Cagan

Inspired is another of the best books to read for product managers. It’s a comprehensive guide on creating products that meet the needs of both customers and the business. It’s a book that includes every key concept about the product development process, such as product vision, customer discovery and design thinking. You'll also learn how to build a strong product culture and incorporate everything in your process.

Top 5 lessons from the book:

We need teams of missionaries, not teams of mercenaries.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

It doesn’t matter how good your engineering team is if they are not given something worthwhile to build.

Software projects can be thought of as having two distinct stages: build the right product, and building the product right.

Your job as product manager is not to define the ultimate product; it’s to define the smallest possible product that will meet your goals.

Sprint, by Jake Knapp

Sprint is a practical guide on solving complex problems in the business and testing new ideas quickly and efficiently. It introduces the sprint process, a structured five-day methodology of problem-solving, prototyping and testing. It’s one of the top books on product management to be kept in every shelf. It’s a valuable resource for product managers looking for a practical framework to problem-solving and idea generation.

Top 5 lessons from the book:

Magic happens when we use big whiteboards to solve problems.

By asking people for their input early in the process, you help them feel invested in the outcome.

Great innovation is built on existing ideas, repurposed with vision.

It’s what work should be about – working together to build something that matters to real people.

Being in a curiosity mindset means being fascinated by your customers and their reactions.

Also Read: 21 Best Books for Marketing and Sales Professionals

OK, those were all the best product manager books one should read to design better products. Those are some of the best books on product management around the world.

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