17 Must-Read Product Management Books

Product management goes well beyond those certified in agile or another method. Whether you became a product manager or someone asked you to wear one more hat, leading can be stressful. One key to successful product management is to keep learning.

A true teacher would never tell you what to do. But only give you the knowledge and let you decide what to do with it. Click To Tweet

Each product iteration is different, technology is ever evolving, and work environments change as well. To learn about what’s new and relevant takes time and a little effort on your part. The easiest way is to read a new book each week.

The best books available can help you learn more about product management, collaboration, habits, remote teams, different methodologies, and more. If you choose one book a week from the following list, you’ll have a dedicated reading list for the next 26 weeks of the year. That leaves you the rest of the year to carry out what you’ve learned. Or you could implement as you go.

This list—in no particular order—is packed full of valuable resources. You will gain a whole new level of effectiveness and satisfaction, regardless of your experience to date.

 

1. The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive

By Terri L. Griffith
Available in: Kindle, hardcover, audiobook

Management books normally discuss processes and people and skip over technology. With The Plugged-In Manager, you get the trifecta to help you address everything in a balanced way. It focuses on how being plugged into people, technology, and organizational processes simultaneously skyrockets your business solutions. Being able to see across these three dimensions is essential to your success in today’s business environment.

What’s exciting about The Plugged-In Manager is Terri Griffith shows you how to get a three-dimensional view. She profiles some exceptional leaders who have mastered plugging in to give you a fresh look at how to manage.

 

2. The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager

By Product School, Carlos González de VillaumbrosiaJosh Anon
Available in Kindle, paperback

Full of best practices, expert advice, and practical tips, The Product Book helps you discover how to be the best product manager possible. Written by real-world product managers at the Product School, these experts teach classes while working at enterprises like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, PayPal, Netflix, and more. Their advice is hard-hitting and worth every penny. You’ll learn why companies need good product managers and how you can add value immediately.

 

3. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

By Dan Olsen
Available in Kindle, hardcover, paperback

The Lean Product Playbook is billed as “the missing manual on how to apply Lean Startup to build products that customers love.” Written by Dan Olsen, Lean product expert, this book is a culmination of his consulting practice that helps companies like Facebook, Epocrates, and Hightail improve their product processes and build amazing products. You’ll get an easy, repeatable process for iterating your product to MVP success. If you’re adopting lean thinking, this is the handbook for you.

 

4. Agile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change Planning and Implementation

By Melanie Franklin
Available in paperback, Kindle

Melanie Franklin is a change management consultant and trainer. GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC, the International Red Cross, and the United Nations are among her clients. She uses that in-depth experience and knowledge to offer best practices when planning and implementing change projects. Agile Change Management shows you how to create a roadmap of the processes, activities, and information you need to manage any change initiative. Melanie even offers advice on creating the right environment by building trust, influence, and motivating others.

 

5. Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships

By Morag Barrett
Available in hardcover, Kindle

If you want to build the best product possible, you must align your people to execute your plan. Morag Barrett has found through decades of leading an international HR consulting and leadership development company that most projects fail because managers don’t cultivate effective working relationships. Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships helps you develop the “soft skills” that will get your product delivered. You’ll learn the four relationship behaviors and how their dynamics work in business and in life.

 

6. Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process

By Kenneth S. Rubin
Available in paperback, Kindle

Kenneth S. Rubin is a Certified Scrum Trainer who’s trained over 18,000 people on agile and scrum. You can rely on his incredible ability and knowledge that makes Essential Scrum a single-source, comprehensive guide. Rubin lays out the principles, values, and practices of scrum in a proven approach that is flexible and more effective for your implementation efforts. Essential Scrum details what you need to know and understand at the team, product, and portfolio levels.

 

7. The Product Manager’s Toolkit: Methodologies, Processes and Tasks in Technology Product Management

By Gabriel Steinhardt
Available in Kindle, hardcover

Whether you’re just beginning as a product manager or you’re a seasoned pro, the PMTK (Product Manager’s Toolkit) book lays out a comprehensive methodology. You’ll learn about roles, processes, tasks, deliverables, and all aspects of product management. Once you read the PMTK book, you will understand the theory, value, and implementation of a globally-accepted and adopted product management best practice.

 

8. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

By Richard Rumelt
Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle

Richard Rumelt strips away what you thought was good vs. bad in Good Strategy Bad Strategy. He debunks the fluffy buzzwords and motivational slogans as the bad strategy and introduces nine sources of power that help you create good strategies. You’ll get the tools you need to get to work immediately. Get an interesting look at examples from businesses, nonprofits, and military affairs to help you understand the difference in good and bad strategies. You’ll see examples from Apple, General Motors, and even Wal-Mart.

 

9. Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams

By Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty
Available in paperback, Kindle

Do you often feel like software development is unmanageable? Managing the Unmanageable shows you how to manage what at first glance seems impossible—by understanding your people first. You need to know how to hire, motivate, and lead them to a successful software product. If your product management goal is to build a sustainable software team that consistently delivers amazing solutions that meet or exceed expectations, you need to read this book.

 

10. Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example

By Steve McClatchy
Available in hardcover, Kindle

Decisions shape your career and your life. If you want to define yourself as a leader, you need to make good decisions. Consistently is the key to deliver best results, but in today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s hard to do. McClatchy works with Fortune 1000 leaders every day to help them achieve astounding levels of performance. In Decide, you’ll learn how to best use your time each day to move your business and life forward. And you’ll make better decisions, waste less time, reduce your stress level, and lead a balanced life.

 

11. Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction While Embracing Uncertainty

By C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, 
Available in Kindle, paperback

You need to create a great product roadmap, publish it, and continuously update it to help your product be successful. Product Roadmaps is a practical, how-to guide to teach you how to develop the best roadmap that aligns your team, stakeholders, and others. You’ll learn how to optimize and prioritize ideas and requests. And with your new roadmap, you’ll be able to communicate to your customers and organization how your product meets or exceeds their expectations.

 

12. Delivering Bad News in Good Ways: Turn Difficult Conversations into Purposeful Dialogue, Positive Outcomes, and Focused Results in 3 Easy Steps

By Alison Sigmon
Available in paperback, Kindle

Bad things happen on projects; it’s a fact of life. Alison Sigmon uses her experience as a PMP to show you how to use her practical, easy method for quickly assessing and responding when you need to deliver bad news. Fully researched, Delivering Bad News in Good Ways uses stories to help you understand Sigmon’s process of learning the bad news. You’ll learn how to create a message around your team’s needs, deliver the news so others can process it, and help your team move forward.

 

13. The Product Manager’s Desk Reference

By Steven Haines
Available in Kindle, hardcover

Product managers are one of the most important functions in companies today. With a global economy and fierce competition, most companies today face significant challenges in releasing products that customers love. The Product Manager’s Desk Reference introduces a new Product Management Life Cycle model that can help you become a top-contributing manager in your company. Learn everything you need to know from beginning to end of the product life cycle.

 

14. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

By David Allen
Available in paperback, Kindle, audiobook

While not specifically a product management oriented book, everyone should read Getting Things Done. David Allen’s book has spawned a whole movement around GTD, including apps and other tools to help you be more productive. Allen’s principles are an entirely different way of approaching personal and professional tasks that will give you a new perspective on your workplace. GTD also lets you unload the tasks clogging up your brain into files and action lists so you can focus on your project.

 

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

By Jake Knapp
Available in Kindle, hardcover, paperback

From three partners at Google Ventures, Sprint lays out a unique 5-day process that helps you solve difficult problems, a process proven effective at over a hundred companies. This book helps you answer the big questions like what’s most important for your focus and what will your idea look like in real life? Jake Knapp and his partners have used this process in more than a hundred sprints with companies in mobile, e-commerce, finance, healthcare, and other industries.

 

16. Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results

By Victor Prince and Mike Figliuolo
Available in Kindle, paperback, audiobook

Each individual on your team is unique, however many leaders have a one-size-fits-all approach to leading their teams. You need to focus your energy where it will make the biggest impact. In Lead Inside the Box, you’ll learn how to figure out where your team members are investing their time and energy. You can decide what each individual needs to succeed, and make smarter decisions about helping your team focus and getting the best results out of everyone.

 

17. Product Management in Practice: A Real-World Guide to the Key Connective Role of the 21st Century

By Matt LeMay
Available in Kindle, paperback

Matt LeMay claims, “the real-word practice of product management is often about difficult conversations, practical compromises, and hard-won incremental gains.” Product Management in Practice covers the CORE skills you must have—communication, organization, research, and execution. These tips and strategies work across industries and organizations and within teams and tool sets. Learn the most important tactics for collaborating and communicating with your team, executives, stakeholders, and others.

 

BONUS! The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

By Atul Gawande
Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audiobook

If you’re struggling to find the best tool to help you organize your work and your team, you need to read The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Our world and businesses are more complex than ever before; even experts struggle to master their tasks. Atul Gawande shows you how the tried-and-true checklist can help you gain surprising power over your tasks and those of your team. From US Air Force pilots and disaster response teams to doctors and surgeons, checklists are becoming the most innovative form of generating striking and innovative improvements.

 

Drop us a line on Twitter or LinkedIn and let us know what you would add to this list!

Danny Ball

Co-founder & CEO at Hutwork. I’m working hard every day to ensure visual planning is at the forefront of today’s fascinating ideas. Click here to check us out on twitter.

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