Product management is one of the most exciting fields in tech right now.
Considering the complexities of the job right at the intersection of software development, design, and growth, product managers must keep ahead of the game to catch the latest trends.
Here is the reading list that only involves the best books for product managers to get a competitive advantage and help to build the products that customers love.
1- The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager by Carlos González de Villaumbrosia and Josh Anon
Is there a better way to start the list than an Amazon Bestseller?
No, there isn’t 😔
Product School is an international training platform created especially for product managers or those who want to be one.
Although it offers some of the best courses for product managers with lecturers from well-known tech companies, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Google, and Netflix, the focus here is on the masterpiece that Product School published since it includes priceless content that evolves around practical advice, best actions, and helpful tips.
With valuable insights on a PM’s role in a company, from communicating with different teams to the guidelines to building flawless products plus launching them, this product management book will help you nail the job interviews and beyond as a PM.
Moreover, this book has an audiobook version that you can listen to anywhere you go, making it possible to learn about the business strategy to achieve your goal in product management on the go or on the road, literally.
2- The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen
The Lean Product Playbook is the go-to practical guide for product managers looking to build a product that customers love.
Many products fail today, mostly since they cannot hit the “product-market fit.”
In his book, Dan Olsen goes into detail about what brings about the product-market fit both on the product (UX, feature-sets, value proposition) and the market (target customers and their underserved needs) side.
For PMs wanting to build and iterate rapidly while developing their products and getting to the product-market fit fast, The Lean Product Playbook offers a great framework for success by providing readers with practical examples regarding UX design, coding, product management, analytics, and marketing based on the experienced product manager Olsen’s career.
3- Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
In his phenomenal work, Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore examines in detail why only a few products become hugely successful at disrupting progressively larger markets while others only lag behind—all based on his decades of experience with lots of examples of digital products.
According to Geoffrey, the secret to this massive success is the ability to cross the chasm as soon as possible, which is right in between the early market dominated by innovators and early adopters and the early majority on the Technology Adoption Life Cycle.
Initially written in the early 90s, the principles in Crossing the Chasm have surely stood the test of time, and the book has become like the bible for product teams developing cutting-edge technologies for over a decade.
Crossing the Chasm also made its way into our other book list, Best Books for Product Marketing Managers.
4- Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
Inspired addresses the single most important question for any technology company:
How to create successful tech products?
Marty Cagan scrutinizes in-depth how the most successful tech companies today—Google, Tesla, Netflix, Amazon— design and build technology products that have billions of raving fans worldwide.
While doing so, he also provides readers with concrete examples of product roadmaps that offer an effective process, creating a solid product culture as well.
Primarily focusing on product development, Inspired covers companies from early-stage startups looking to hit the product-market fit rapidly to long-established tech companies constantly in search of delivering new value for their customers while boosting user engagement, achieving business goals, and promoting innovation.
For PMs wanting to carry their product game to the next level, Inspired is one of the most essential books that are available on the shelves today, thanks to the personal stories that Cagan shares with readers since these stories are related to some of the most successful companies of today, such as Apple, Netflix, and Google.
5- Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters by Ryan Singer
Written by Ryan Singer, the Head of Strategy at BaseCamp, Shape Up defines the workflow, product strategy, and a set of techniques that have been developed for over 15 years by BaseCamp while building their most successful products.
The book’s main argument is that you must first “shape” a project and then “bet” that it could be finalized within 6 weeks by a self-dependent but small product team. Shape Up is a must-read for product managers interested in agile processes and implementing well-planned and effectively-delegated development strategies at their workplace with ease.
The good news is that the online edition of Shape Up is available for free on BaseCamp’s website for (soon-to-be) successful teams to derive value from it by increasing collaboration and engagement.
6- Outcomes Over Output: Why customer behavior is the key metric for business success by Josh Seiden
When is a product “done”?
Is it when it is ready to be shipped, or right at the moment the end-user lays hands on it? What about Facebook, Amazon, or Google? When are they just “done”?
More like, are they ever done?
In fact, products powered by software and digital systems are never done. So, how do we set goals for our product teams to iterate? We mostly ask them to build new feature sets, which are often creating no or low value.
In his book Outcomes Over Output, Josh Seiden argues that if we give product teams outcomes to achieve, we can ensure focus and alignment, reduce unnecessary rework, and, most importantly, put our customers at the center of all of our efforts.
Published in 2019, Outcomes Over Output is one of the latest works that PMs must definitely check out to become aware of new product development strategies, actionable advice on improving customer experience, and the outcome you achieve on the road to the ultimate goal.
7- Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value by Melissa Perri
In Escaping the Build Trap, Melissa Peri touches upon a similar issue on outcome-centric planning.
She argues that companies fall into the “build trap” by focusing too much on outputs, thus, wasting their valuable time and energy shipping countless features that offer little value.
Divided into five parts, this business book sheds light on the importance of user experience and the way it is connected to the product manager role since these concepts go hand-in-hand to attain a positive business impact.
Moreover, Perri argues that companies can avoid the trap by cultivating a customer-centric product culture if they can optimize how they communicate and collaborate within the company structure. Escaping the Build Trap is a must-read book for PMs looking to build a product management culture focused on successful outcomes over outputs in their work environment.
8- The Mom Test: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value by Rob Fitzpatrick
It is said that you must avoid asking your mom about your business idea because she loves you; hence, all you get from her will be lies.
At least, that’s what this customer development book suggests.
Author of The Mom Test, Rob Fitzpatrick, argues that you should not ask anyone if your business (or product or feature—you get the idea) is a good idea because they will—unintentionally—lie to you.
Focusing on the conversation in terms of product with a broad audience, this book approaches communication as a game of chess and displays how conversations with customers unfold when you use the skills that your product management career has blessed you with as a communication tool to guide them through.
As Fitzpatrick shows his approaches to communication to gather valuable insights without even mentioning the idea of eliminating any bias that will hinder the truth, there is no point in believing that this book for product managers doesn’t include any real-world examples.
Considering that talking to customers is the prerequisite of any effective product development process, The Mom Test is an interesting read for product people wanting to ensure their product’s success.
9- Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr
Written by one of the earliest investors of Google and maybe the most important VC in Silicon Valley, John Doerr, Measure What Matters introduces the revolutionary approach to setting goals and making tough decisions in business: objectives and key results (OKRs).
Used by Intel, Google, Amazon, Uber, and many more tech giants, OKRs have been seen as the main drive behind many growth-stage companies. More importantly, Doerr doesn’t hesitate to share a wide range of real-life examples regarding the goals that affect product leadership deeply throughout the product life cycle.
Exploring new approaches to management in tech, Measure What Matters is certainly one of the most essential readings for PMs expected to set and accomplish higher goals.
10- Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty by C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors
Everybody knows the importance of creating a solid product roadmap since it’s the key to the deliver what you promise to your customers, especially when it’s product owners.
Everybody also knows that creating an effective product vision requires cross-functional teams to work together and align their goals, which is exactly what this product management book does.
From enhancing decision-making process to developing a company strategy that all teams can pursue, this step-by-step guide helps you become a successful product manager that can reach several milestones.
In short, this book explains how to create a business plan that aligns with your company strategy and it includes the definitions of the responsibilities that each role holds to get accustomed to the fast-pacing business environment we are in today’s world.
11- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
One of the hardest parts of product management is understanding and creating product stickiness, making this product management book on Amazon a must-read for every product management software worker.
Starting from product discovery to sustaining a fruitful product lifecycle, this book displays the elements and to-dos that teams, especially product managers, should prioritize each sprint.
Besides, it includes actionable insights that you can use to your favor to get customers hooked by building customer habits that are directly affected by customer satisfaction.
Give this book a read if you need a practical book that will help you perceive your product’s value from customers’ points of view.
12- Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams by Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, and Nate Walkingshaw
There are many interrelated subjects you could study to become a product manager, but there isn’t one definite answer; thus, it’s hard to decide on the subject that will make you make successful product decisions throughout the product lifecycle.
Want to know what’s not hard?
Deciding on the book you should study for the same goal: Product Leadership.
Product Leadership is a book that is full of real-life examples, as it includes nearly 100 interviews on the subject, from product design to product development.
If you need a guide that’s based on practical experience you can grasp and draw inspiration from, this book deserves a read for sure!
13- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
I always say that product management is not hard if you know where to start, and this book over here is a really good start.
In The Lean Startup, you learn how to drive a startup to success, but that’s not all. You learn why startups fail, which methods are valid (and which are not), what metrics are worth testing, and what approaches are to be taken to reach entrepreneurial success – building a concrete base to support the product launch from the very first start.
While doing so, Ries supports his points one by one by providing charts to visualize, maintaining a scientific approach, and creating a sustainable business strategy.
In a way, this book is similar to a product management tool – like a manual you could read.
14- Cracking the PM Career: The Skills, Frameworks, and Practices to Become a Great Product Manager by Jackie Bavaro and Gayle Laakmann McDowell
This book here is one of a kind in a way because it displays a long list of product management requirements that you should adapt to form a product vision that will shine among competitors.
How to get there?
By ameliorating your skills, such as agile product management, A/B tests, time management, and collaboration.
Of course, all of these matters are explained thoroughly in this book without any details missed so that you can get into a growth mindset that will help you grow your business and customer base by putting importance into your one and only product.
Let me note down that it includes several skills, from execution skills to strategic skills, for you to improve through each step of the cycle.
Nowadays, it is highly important to find the right tools to improve yourself in what you do, whether it’s your job or hobby.
In this case, you might be looking for books about product management that focus on several sub-categories in terms of product leadership, product life cycle, customer experience, and product-led growth with lots of examples to have a positive business impact as an outcome.
That is why this article includes great books on product management for product managers and business owners to read in order to produce the most habit-forming products with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a Product Manager?
A Product Manager is someone whose job is to manage every aspect of the product, from development to customer service, ensuring the product’s success.
Why is Product Management important?
As Product Managers ensure that the internal teams of a company are aligned under the same vision with measurable actions, they maximize the chances of product success, making it possible to attain business objectives for the entire organization.
How can I learn Product Management?
Books and comprehensive guides are great resources to learn anything, and it applies to product management, too. You can also watch videos and attend courses that are beginner-friendly.