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22 product management books every PM should read

PostsProject management
Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

November 03, 2023

Building great products isn’t just about the latest trends or fancy tech. It’s about nurturing a deep understanding of the process, including business, human psychology, and the intricacies of project management. 

While blogs can give you this insight, there’s nothing quite like sitting down with a book to truly absorb the wisdom on offer. Crammed full of science-backed data, industry studies, and insider tips from pros in the field, each of the books on this list has something to offer — whether you’re a seasoned product manager, or just getting started with your career.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the essential product management books every PM should have on their shelf.

1. Lean Product and Lean Analytics: How to Build Products that Customers Love 

By Ben Yoskovitz and Alistair Croll

Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” In the world of product management, data is that punch. 

In this seminal work on lean product methodologies, Yoskovitz and Croll guide you through the maze of metrics, teaching you how to utilize analytics to adapt, iterate, and evolve your product to meet customer demands. Stuffed with case studies, it offers a practical roadmap for making sure your product is both useful and loved.

2. Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters

By Ryan Singer

Penned by the strategic mind behind BaseCamp, Ryan Singer unpacks the intricate tactics, workflows, and product strategies that have steered BaseCamp to its success over a decade and a half. Central to Singer’s narrative is the concept of meticulously ‘shaping’ a project before placing a bet on its completion within a tight six-week timeframe by an autonomous PM team.

Especially illuminating are Singer’s insights into the Agile methodology and crafting robust development strategies. Shape Up serves as a beacon for those navigating the challenging waters of product management, underscoring the importance of fostering collaboration and amplifying team engagement.

3. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products 

By Nir Eyal 

Nir Eyal digs deep into product engagement, uncovering the secret psychology behind why some products captivate us while others leave us cold. 

If you’ve ever wondered why you check certain apps compulsively, this book holds the answers. An essential crib sheet for any startup looking to understand user psychology, Eyal shares The Hooked Model — a framework for designing addictive products, showing how companies can intertwine user desires and reward triggers with business needs. 

4. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses 

By Eric Ries

Eric revolutionized the way start-ups approach product development with his lean startup methodology

By emphasizing validated learning and rapid iterations, this book presents a systematic, scientific approach to product creation and entrepreneurial management. One of the top product management books out there, it’s essential reading for PMs in startups and established companies alike.

5. Product Management for Dummies 

By Brian Lawley and Pamela Schure

New to the world of product management? This is your starting line. This entry from the popular For Dummies series offers a comprehensive overview of the PM role, from understanding the product life cycle to mastering agile methodologies. With real-world examples and easy-to-digest content, Lawley and Schure ensure that newbie PMs get off to a flying start.

6. Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

By Melissa Perri

Perri sheds light on a common problem in product management: the tendency for companies to fall into the ‘build trap’ — a quagmire where they focus too much on adding extra features users don’t want. 

Perri makes a compelling case for pivoting away from this by centering the user experience and combining it with the role of the PM. Considered one of the best product management books out there, it advocates a shift towards a customer-centric approach and offers a lifeline out of the build trap. 

7. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers

By Geoffrey A. Moore

Regarded as the bible for bringing new products to progressively larger markets, Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm is a must-read for PMs in the tech space.

This classic tackles the challenges high-tech companies face when moving from early adopter capture to mainstream success. Despite its initial publication pre-digital revolution in the ’90s, the core tenets presented in the book remain relevant. It serves as an essential guide, a PM Bible, if you will, for product teams seeking to break new ground.

8. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

By Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

Ever wondered how Google Ventures designs products in record time? Jake Knapp has the answer.

Sprint breaks down the famed five-day process Knapp and his co-authors used at Google Ventures to help hundreds of start-ups prototype, test, and validate their ideas. A practical guide for anyone looking to fast-track a product concept into a tangible result, this book demystifies the art of efficient product development.

9. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

By Clayton M. Christensen

Arguably one of the most important business books ever written, Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma explores how successful companies can do everything ‘right’, and still lose market leadership due to disruptive technologies. 

Christensen’s work is groundbreaking (and we don’t say that lightly), giving PMs and business leaders insights into managing innovation and recognizing the dynamics of disruption in their industries.

10. User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product

By Jeff Patton

Jeff Patton’s User Story Mapping delves into a versatile method for keeping teams focused on users throughout the entirety of the product development process.

His focus is on user story maps, which visualize product functionality and prioritize the features. It’s an essential tool for PMs aiming to create user-centric products.

11. Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results

By Christina Wodtke

Christina addresses the challenge of driving a team towards a singular, impactful goal using the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method. 

Through a compelling fable intertwined with practical advice, Wodtke gives insights into how organizations can achieve clarity and focus in their endeavors. It’s a pivotal read for PMs eager to amplify their team’s productivity and drive impactful results.

12. Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty

By C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors

Roadmaps are crucial for product managers, but traditional roadmapping can sometimes be at odds with the dynamic nature of modern businesses. 

This book reinvents the concept, showcasing how to build visionary, yet adaptable, roadmaps. The authors blend real-world experiences with actionable strategies, making it a must-read for PMs navigating the ever-changing product landscape.

13. The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

By Rob Fitzpatrick

Gathering genuine feedback is often a maze, especially when close friends or family are too polite to offer the brutal truth. 

The Mom Test (a phrase so influential it’s entered common parlance) deciphers how to extract honest and actionable insights from conversations, ensuring you’re building a product that truly resonates. It’s a trusty guide for PMs and entrepreneurs who seek the raw truth in feedback.

14. Badass: Making Users Awesome 

By Kathy Sierra

Kathy Sierra, known for her passionate approach to user-centric design, offers a fresh perspective: don’t just make a great product — focus on making your users successful with it. 

The book delves deep into strategies that ensure users not only love your product but also become competent and passionate about it. It’s a game-changer for PMs striving to create truly user-empowering products. 

15. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

By Daniel H. Pink

While not exclusively a product management book, Drive delves deep into human motivation, a key aspect for any PM looking to create products that users love. 

Pink dissects the intricacies of what truly drives us, challenging traditional notions and showcasing how autonomy, mastery, and purpose are central. The book presents data from little-known scientific studies in an accessible way to help PMs build products that not only serve needs but also inspire users.

16. The Product Manager’s Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed as a Product Manager

By Steven Haines

In this comprehensive manual, Steven Haines delves into the product manager role, covering everything from navigating organizational politics to mastering the nuances of the product life cycle. 

Peppered with practical advice and first-hand stories, this guide is a toolbox for the novice and seasoned PM alike, helping all navigate the choppy waters of product management with finesse.

17. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

By Steve Krug

Steve Krug’s timeless classic on web usability is a foundational read for PMs in the digital age. The book emphasizes the importance of intuitive web design, advocating for user-friendly interfaces that don’t leave users scratching their heads. 

With its humorous and insightful take on how to create seamless user experiences, it’s a must-read for anyone shaping digital products.

18. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

By Chip Heath & Dan Heath

The Heath brothers dive deep into the anatomy of ideas, dissecting why some remain in our minds while others fade away.

For product managers, understanding these principles can be the difference between a memorable product and one that disappears into the abyss. Using countless anecdotes and case studies, this book is a primer on crafting messages and products that truly last the journey.

19. The Jobs to Be Done Playbook: Align Your Markets, Organization, and Strategy Around Customer Needs

By Jim Kalbach

Jim Kalbach illuminates the concept of ‘Jobs to Be Done’ — a perspective that focuses on solving real customer problems, rather than just selling features. 

This playbook provides tangible methods and techniques for organizations to deeply understand their customers and align their products accordingly, making it a pivotal read for PMs everywhere.

20. Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams

By Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden

Lean UX is all about bridging the gap between user experience design, and the agile development processes. 

Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden lay out practical principles and techniques for collaborative product creation, emphasizing rapid experimentation and frequent feedback. A beacon for PMs and designers alike, this book ensures products are not just usable, but also meaningful.

21. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

By Jeff Sutherland

Sutherland’s Scrum stands out as a foundational read for those diving into the nuances of Scrum and Agile transformation. At its core, the book introduces readers to a transformative team performance framework aimed at delivering results swiftly and cost-effectively. It delves into the four key principles of Scrum methodology: growth, planning and priorities, team dynamics, and the elimination of waste.

Sutherland, in his engaging style, underscores the potential of Scrum methods to amplify team productivity by a staggering 80%. The book also elaborates on the pivotal roles within the Scrum framework: the product owner, Scrum master, and the teams.

22. When Coffee and Kale Compete

By Alan Klement  

At the heart of Alan Klement’s insightful book lies the concept of ‘Job to be Done’ (JTBD). Klement paints a picture of customers yearning for change but facing barriers. The magic happens when products step in, not just as tools but as solutions, steering customers past their challenges.

Diving deep with rich visuals, Klement illustrates that it’s not just about the product but its transformative impact on users’ lives. Read it for tips on how to apply JTBD, plus an insightful analysis of the driving forces behind customer choices.

Product management tools: what are they?

Reading books is good, but to put that theory into practice, you’re gonna need the right kit. Enter product management tools, the gold standard in the world of product development. 

With Backlog, our own PM tool, you can effortlessly assign tasks, prioritize product features, and ensure seamless communication among team members. Meanwhile, Cacoo and Typetalk make it easy for the team to collaborate in real-time, wherever they are — from virtual whiteboards, to super-focused conversation in group chats. 

This software isn’t just about checking off to-do lists; it’s about fostering collaboration and turning that theoretical knowledge into results. Ready to take your new PM BFFs for a spin? Give all three a try for free, today. 



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