Product Management Books : Your 2024 Reading List

  • 6 Dec, 2023

It’s the time of year when you get hit up with a gazillion “holiday guides’’ and you know what that means dear reader. No, I’m not hawking some crappy t-shirt that falls apart in the wash. I’m dropping some product management wisdom onto your holiday shopping list.

🎉 Presenting the 2024 Essential Reading List for Product Managers

Homer Simpson reading a pile of books

Think of this list as your personal compass to the most important things to learn in our industry.

Whether you’re tucking them into a Christmas stocking, or gifting one each night of Hanukkah, these books are treasures that I truly believe belong on every product manager’s bookshelf.

I update this list regularly as I discover great new product management books so be sure and bookmark it for next year.

Product Strategy Development

In “Product Strategy Development,” we explore fundamental texts for envisioning and executing successful product strategies. These books, penned by renowned experts, delve into the intricacies of creating products that resonate with customers and stand out in competitive markets. They offer invaluable insights for product managers aiming to align their products with market needs and corporate goals.

“Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love” by Marty Cagan

The book Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan is considered essential reading for software product managers for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a comprehensive overview of the product management role within technology companies, focusing on creating products that not only meet business objectives but also genuinely satisfy customer needs. Cagan, drawing from his extensive experience in the tech industry, offers practical insights into the challenges of developing successful tech products and how to overcome them.

One of the core themes of Inspired is the importance of working closely with cross-functional teams, including engineering, design, and marketing, to ensure that product development is aligned with user research and market demands. Cagan emphasizes the significance of understanding customer problems deeply and using that knowledge to drive the product development process. This customer-centric approach is crucial for creating products that resonate with users and stand out in the competitive tech landscape.

Furthermore, Inspired dives into the methodologies and frameworks that can help product managers and their teams navigate the complexities of tech product development. From defining product strategy and vision to prioritizing features and making tough trade-offs, Cagan offers actionable strategies that are grounded in real-world examples from leading tech companies.

Overall, Inspired is essential reading for software product managers because it not only equips them with the knowledge and tools needed to excel in their roles but also instills a product culture focused on innovation, collaboration, and customer empathy. These insights are invaluable in the fast-paced and ever-evolving tech industry, where the ability to adapt and continuously deliver value to customers is key to long-term success.

If you want a deeper dive into the book, check out my Inspired book summary and study guide.

Read Inspired by Marty Cagan

“Competitive Strategy” by Michael E. Porter

Deepen your strategic thinking with insights into competitive advantage and market positioning. Michael E. Porter’s book is essential for understanding the core of business competition and strategic planning.

Read “Competitive Strategy” by Michael E. Porter

“HBRs Must Read on Strategy”

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy is a curated collection of influential Harvard Business Review articles, essential for anyone looking to enhance their organization’s strategy development and execution. The book includes Michael E. Porter’s renowned “What Is Strategy?” and other key pieces on competitive forces, vision building, business model reinvention, and creating new market spaces.  It guides readers on differentiating their company, setting clear objectives, crafting visions for the future, and measuring strategy effectiveness. The book also focuses on turning strategic concepts into actionable plans, making swift decisions, and ensuring performance aligns with strategy, making it a vital resource for effective organizational leadership.

Read HBRs Must Read on Strategy

Market Research and User Insights

“Market Research and User Insights” is a crucial section for product managers aiming to deeply understand their customers. The highlighted books offer innovative approaches and techniques for effective market research and extracting actionable insights from user data. This section is essential for those seeking to base their product decisions on solid, customer-centric foundations.

“The Mom Test” by Rob Patrick

Talking to customers or prospects is an essential job of any good product manager. Too often, we just talk to friends, family and well, our moms. The problem is that mom’s are too nice.

I came across this book after watching the author speak at a Ycombinator event. It’s a quick read with advice that is immediately actionable. You can read my The Mom Test book summary here.

For product managers, The Mom Test is crucial because it helps you navigate the complexities of customer feedback. You’ll learn how to frame questions that avoid bias and extract valuable, actionable insights from conversations with potential users. This skill is essential for validating product concepts, refining features, and ultimately ensuring that the product addresses genuine customer problems.

Read The Mom Test by Rob Patrick

“Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal

Learn about creating products that captivate users. Nir Eyal provides a compelling framework for understanding user psychology and creating products that are not only useful but also habit-forming.

It’s a good book but like Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Knowing these patterns can help you build highly engaging products but you must use this power in an ethical way.

Read Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal

Roadmapping and Prioritization

In “Roadmapping and Prioritization,” we focus on strategic planning and effective execution. The books in this section provide practical methodologies and tools to create product roadmaps that are not only aligned with business objectives but also adaptable to the ever-changing market dynamics. This is a must-read for product managers looking to balance long-term vision with short-term deliverables.

“Escaping the Build Trap” by Melissa Perri

Excellent guidance on aligning product roadmaps with business outcomes. Melissa Perri explores how companies can avoid getting stuck in endless building cycles and focus on creating real value.

Read “Escaping the Build Trap” by Melissa Perri

“Product Roadmaps Relaunched” by C. Todd Lombardo

A comprehensive look at creating flexible and impactful roadmaps. This book offers practical advice and strategies for developing roadmaps that effectively guide product development.

Read “Product Roadmaps Relaunched” by C. Todd Lombardo

Agile and Lean Product Management

“Agile and Lean Product Management” introduces essential readings for embracing flexibility and efficiency in product development. These books cover groundbreaking methodologies that have reshaped the landscape of product management, emphasizing rapid iteration, customer feedback, and lean principles. They are ideal for managers seeking to implement agile and lean practices in their teams.

“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

A seminal work on applying lean principles to product development. Eric Ries’s book has revolutionized how startups approach product creation with its emphasis on rapid iteration and customer feedback.

Read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

“Agile Product Management with Scrum” by Roman Pichler

Insights into the role of Product Owner in Scrum environments. Roman Pichler provides a detailed exploration of agile product management, particularly the crucial role of the Product Owner.

Read “Agile Product Management with Scrum” by Roman Pichler

“User Story Mapping” by Jeff Patton

User story mapping is a valuable tool for software development, once you understand why and how to use it. This insightful book examines how this often misunderstood technique can help your team stay focused on users and their needs without getting lost in the enthusiasm for individual product features.

Read “User Story Mapping” by Jeff Patton

“50 Quick Ideas to Improve Your User Stories” by Gojko Adzic , David Evans

User Stories are the typical unit of work in Scrum. This book takes you through ways that you can improve upon how you think about and deconstruct product requirements into User Stories. It’s a small read but packed full of really useful information. I’ve read this book a few times and never fail to pickup on something new.

Read Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories

Data-Driven Decision Making

In “Data-Driven Decision Making,” we showcase books that underscore the importance of leveraging data in product management. This collection is designed to guide you in making informed decisions based on analytics and empirical evidence, enhancing the accuracy and impact of your product strategies.

“Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster” by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

A guide to using data intelligently in product development. The authors focus on how startups can leverage analytics to make faster, better-informed decisions.

Read “Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster” by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

“Data Science for Business” by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett

Understand how data-driven strategies can be applied to business scenarios. This book covers the fundamentals of data science and how you can apply it to your business.

Read “Data Science for Business” by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett

Cross-Functional Collaboration

“Cross-Functional Collaboration” highlights books that emphasize the importance of teamwork and synergy in product management. These works provide insights on building and leading diverse teams, fostering a collaborative environment, and harnessing the collective strengths of different departments to drive product success.

“Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal

Learn about fostering collaboration and empowering teams. General Stanley McChrystal shares insights from his military experience, applicable to managing and leading modern organizations.

Read “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal

“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink

Great product managers connect dots. In this book by Daniel Pink, he explores, with great examples, what motivates an individual. You’ll learn about the psychology behind motivation and how to harness that in a team setting.

Read Drive by Daniel H. Pink

User Experience and Design Thinking

“User Experience and Design Thinking” dives into the heart of creating user-centric products. This section features books that unravel the principles of intuitive design and user experience, essential for product managers who prioritize customer satisfaction and engagement in their product designs.

“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug

A classic on web usability and user experience. Steve Krug’s book is a must-read for anyone involved in designing intuitive and user-friendly websites and products.

Read “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug

“The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman

Deep dive into design principles and how they influence user behavior. Don Norman’s book is a seminal work in understanding how design affects our interaction with objects and systems.

Read “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman

“The Inmates Are Running the Asylum” by Alan Cooper

“The Inmates Are Running the Asylum” offers a critical look at how rapidly advancing technology is not always user-friendly. It highlights the disconnect between those who decide to develop tech products and the actual technology used, leading to software that fails to meet everyday needs. Through the author’s experiences and insights, the book illustrates the urgent need for technology that aligns with how average people think, seeking a balance between usability and business success.

Read “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum” by Alan Cooper

Product Launch and Go-to-Market Strategies

In “Product Launch and Go-to-Market Strategies,” I present key resources for successfully introducing products to the market. This section offers strategic frameworks and insights for navigating the complexities of product launches and establishing a strong market presence.

Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore

Strategies for launching products in new markets. Geoffrey A. Moore’s book is a key resource for understanding how to bridge the gap between early adopters and the mainstream market.

Read “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore

You can view my book summary on Crossing the Chasm here.

“Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Learn about creating uncontested market space and making competition irrelevant. This book introduces a new way of thinking about strategy and competition, focusing on innovation.

Read “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Customer Feedback and Iteration

“Customer Feedback and Iteration” emphasizes the iterative nature of product development. The books selected for this section provide strategies and frameworks for refining products based on direct customer feedback, ensuring continuous improvement and alignment with user needs.

“The Lean Product Playbook” by Dan Olsen

A practical guide to iterating based on customer feedback. Dan Olsen outlines a step-by-step approach to develop products that customers love, using lean principles.

Read “The Lean Product Playbook” by Dan Olsen

“The Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

Insight into customer-centric product development. This comprehensive guide provides a thorough approach to building a successful startup focused on customer needs. While this book is about building a startup the focus is on customer discovery and validation, key parts of any product management organization.

Read “The Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

“Running Lean” by Ash Maurya

The Lean Startup describes lean product management. Running Lean by Ash Maurya tells you how to get it done.

This pragmatic guide is aimed at fostering innovation and success in product development. Addressing the high failure rate of new products, Maurya presents a systematic approach to validate product ideas, increasing the chances of creating a successful product.

The book integrates concepts from the Lean Startup, Customer Development, and bootstrapping methodologies, emphasizing the importance of achieving product/market fit. Key strategies include engaging customers throughout the development cycle, employing rapid iterations for continual product testing, and learning to pivot when necessary. This makes it an essential resource for business managers, CEOs, small business owners, and developers.

Running Lean focuses on maximizing speed, learning, and focus in product development, and also advises on the right timing for significant funding rounds, making it an invaluable tool for anyone looking to start a business project.

Read “Running Lean” by Ash Maurya

Product Leadership and Management Skills

“Product Leadership and Management Skills” is curated for those aspiring to or currently in product leadership roles. This section contains books that offer wisdom on managing teams, driving innovation, and cultivating the necessary skills to lead effectively in the dynamic field of product management.

“The Making of a Manager” by Julie Zhuo

Essential read for new managers in the tech industry. Julie Zhuo shares her experiences and insights into the journey from individual contributor to manager.

Read “The Making of a Manager” by Julie Zhuo

“The Manager’s Path” by Camille Fournier

A guide for tech leaders navigating growth and change. Camille Fournier offers practical advice for managing technical teams and developing effective leadership skills.

Read “The Manager’s Path” by Camille Fournier

“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

This book was really transformative for me the first time I read it. It explores how influential figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Steve Jobs succeeded by focusing not just on what they did, but why they did it, inspiring loyalty and innovation.

Sinek introduces ‘The Golden Circle’ model, demonstrating that the most impactful leaders and organizations operate by communicating their core purpose and belief, fundamentally shaping how they think, act, and communicate. This book is essential for product managers looking to create products and brands that resonate deeply with customers and employees, fostering a strong, purpose-driven approach to business and product development.

Read “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

The first of two books by Patrick Lencioni on this list. I love how he teaches management lessons through fictional narratives.

This book discusses the five behavioral tendencies that cause teams to struggle as well as practical strategies for getting back on track. 

Read “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

“Three Signs of a Miserable Job” by Patrick Lencioni

What can running a pizza shop teach you about improving not only your own job satisfaction and performance but that of your team? Patrick Lencioni spins another business fable that tries to get to the heart of why people hate their jobs.

Why should you care as a product manager? Because, like in Start with Why, our ability to inspire people by connecting the dots is an essential skill necessary to achieve success.

Read “Three Signs of a Miserable Job” by Patrick Lencioni

Ethical Considerations in Product Management

In “Ethical Considerations in Product Management,” we delve into the moral aspects and responsibilities that come with creating and managing products. The selected books provide thought-provoking perspectives on the ethical implications of technology and product decisions, urging managers to consider the broader impact of their work.

“Technically Wrong” by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Explores the ethical side of technology and product development. This book sheds light on how tech products can fail to consider diverse needs and perspectives.

Read “Technically Wrong” by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

“Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil

A look at the dark side of big data and algorithms. Cathy O’Neil’s book is an eye-opening exploration of how data can be used in harmful ways, particularly in large-scale decision-making processes.

Read “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil

“The Loop” by Jacob Ward

This book is a compelling exploration of the implications of artificial intelligence on human behavior and decision-making. The book reveals how AI, while poised to revolutionize our world, also risks amplifying our innate cognitive biases and instincts.

Ward, an award-winning science journalist, illustrates this by showing how AI systems can inherit our worst traits, leading to narrow, predetermined, and potentially dangerous outcomes. Through his global journey, he uncovers real-life examples of AI’s potential for manipulation, from biometric surveillance in India to automated military decisions. 

“The Loop” serves as a cautionary tale, urging us to introspect and embed only our best qualities into the AI systems we develop, rather than perpetuating our flaws. This narrative is a critical examination of the intersection between human psychology and technological advancement.

Read “The Loop” by Jacob Ward

“Emerging Technologies and Trends” equips product managers with insights into the latest technological advancements and market trends. This section features books that explore innovative technologies and their transformative effects on industries, preparing managers to anticipate and adapt to future changes.

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

Understand disruptive technologies and how they change markets. Clayton M. Christensen’s classic work introduces the concept of disruptive innovation and its impact on established industries.

Read “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

“The Second Machine Age” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Insights into how emerging technologies are reshaping the business world. This book discusses the profound changes brought about by digital technology advancements.

Read “The Second Machine Age” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Risk Management and Mitigation

A new category for 2024, “Risk Management and Mitigation” addresses the challenges of managing uncertainty and potential pitfalls in product management. The books in this section offer strategies for identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks, ensuring product managers are well-equipped to handle unforeseen challenges in their projects.

“The Essentials of Risk Management” by Michel Crouhy

In the realm of product management, understanding and managing risk has become a fundamental necessity, not just the domain of specialists.

This book is crucial for product managers looking to increase the transparency of their risk management programs and stay abreast of evolving best practices and risk infrastructures. It covers various risks including market, credit, operational, and more, offering insights on navigating these challenges, implementing effective Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) strategies, and communicating them across the organization. 

Read “The Essentials of Risk Management” by Michel Crouhy

The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you were building products that were disrupted by COVID-19, you’ve experience first hand a Black Swan event. This book looks at the impact of highly improbable events and how to deal with them.

Read “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Each of these books offers a unique perspective, equipping you with the knowledge to excel in various aspects of product management. Whether you’re a novice stepping into this arena or a professional looking to refine your skills, these resources will provide invaluable guidance on your journey to becoming a proficient product manager.

Remember, the key to success in this field lies not just in theoretical knowledge, but also in applying these insights to real-world scenarios. Happy reading and learning!

Note: If you purchase one of these books on Amazon I get a percentage of the sale. It helps pay for server costs. Whether you buy them from Amazon or somewhere else these are a really great set of resources to help you. I’ve read all of them, some multiple times

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