33 Amazing Articles Every Product Manager Must Read
Many entrepreneurs and product managers write about the skills they brought to the table and those they learned along the way. Few talk about the silent hero that boosts them to the elite level: consuming the written word. And as a product manager finding out how others made a strategy work, whether it was implementing a road-map software or avoiding other’s pitfalls can make or break your product’s success.
As a successful product manager reading is a must. The data backs it up. Inc. Magazine reports that most CEOs read at least a book a week, and this doesn’t include blogs, articles, podcasts, and videos they devour, too.
You may be an entrepreneur creating SaaS platforms or a product manager for an enterprise. Regardless, the following articles are a must-read for anyone concerned with rolling out the best product in each iteration. Here are the top 33 most amazing product management articles in no specific order.
Author: Nate Walkingshaw
Mind the Product says it’s time to take the good things you learned from agile and adapt them to the ever-evolving product management needs of the future. Just like you use the latest technology to inform products of today, you need to change the way you build products to optimize for the future.
Author: Chandra Gnanasambandam, Martin Harrysson
This insightful article from McKinsey & Company talks about today’s product manager evolving into a mini-CEO. Most interesting are the three product manager archetypes (which one do you fit under?) and McKinsey’s predictions for the future of product management.
Author: Jonathan Golden
Get the advice of Jonathan Golden, Airbnb’s first product manager who is now Director of Product. Learn how Airbnb created an elastic product team that helped them get to where they are today. Golden talks about the three different types of product managers, like the McKinsey article above, but with an Airbnb spin.
Author: Jason Fried
Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals, creator of Basecamp project management platform. While he talks mainly to entrepreneurs about slow, steady progress and growth for their companies, you can apply his tips and advice to product development.
Author: Sachin Rekhi
Sachin Rekhi, founder and CEO at Notejoy, a collaborative notes app for teams, writes about capturing user feedback. The key is to surface it at just the right time for better prioritization and design decisions. He established a “feedback river” for pulling his users’ insights from 10+ channels.
Author: Jason Cohen
If you’re focusing on MVPs (Minimum Viable Products), there’s a better way to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations. As a product manager your product must be simple, lovable, and complete (SLC) because no one wants to use a product that’s unfinished. And you don’t want your V1.0 release too embarrass you.
Author: Nathan Bashaw
Nathan Bashaw, co-founder and story maker at Hardbound.co, offers advice and tips on using the patterns in product design to help get clear about problem-solving. He coined The Maze to describe the decisions that wind around like a maze. If you choose wisely, you’ll get through the maze successfully.
Author: Daniel Demetri
Daniel Demetri, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at States Title, is an experienced Product Manager who sees product managers as having different degrees of specialization in business, technology, and design. Read this interesting article to find out where your company lands on the continuum.
Author: Heath Umbach
Heath Umbach is VP New Relationships at Fresh Tilled Soil, a product and experience design firm that works with category leaders. He discusses the top roadmap challenges according to product managers and then helps you understand what you can do to overcome them.
Author: Rik Higham
Published on Hackernoon, Rik Higham (Senior Product Manager at Skyscanner) talks about why you should forget about Minimum Viable Products. He says you should focus on Riskiest Assumption Tests (RAT) instead because “there is no need to build more than what’s required to test your largest unknown.”
Author: Teresa Torres
Product Talk discusses the gap between what people think they do and what they actually do. When conducting customer interviews, don’t ask, “What matters to you when…” Start your interview with, “Tell me about the last time you…” As a product manager, you want to uncover what your customers are actually doing, not what they hope to do.
Author: Caitlin Kalinowski
When Caitlin Kalinowski became head of product design engineering at Oculus, she and her team faced a stiff challenge. They were to design the controllers for the new Ocoulus Rift virtual reality headset, a hot commodity and highly anticipated. She discusses how and why you must define your non-negotiable before you build prototypes.
Author: Wayne Chang
Hackernoon published Wayne Chang’s seminal article on user experience. Chang is a serial co-founder, an angel investor, and philanthropist who believes in making incredible product experiences based on an unforgettable first-time use. He lays out his advice from years of presenting amazing experiences that keep users coming back.
Author: Chris Butler
Are you worried about that one metric for your product or maybe velocities for your engineering team? You also need to name KPIs for product people. Chris Butler, Director of AI at Philosophie NYC, lists out the proper KPIs for product managers and what makes up a “good” KPI.
Author: Andy Wicks
Mind the Product published this article on why prioritizing is one of the most critical aspects of your product development. Learn why poor prioritization happens. And learn a lean solution so you can consistently and continually deliver the utmost value to your customers.
#16 No No No
Author: Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo, Product Design VP at Facebook, discusses why you should learn to say “No,” and why you should say it often. The key question is how do you say no to bad ideas when you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings? She talks about how saying “No” isn’t just healthy, it’s necessary.
Author: Jonathan Rosenberg
Jonathan Rosenberg, SVP of Products at Google, gave a lecture to graduating students at Claremont McKenna College, from which FirstRound distilled his comments in this interesting article. You might not agree with all of Rosenberg’s points on leadership. But you can’t disagree with the success he’s achieved as the team builder for Chrome and Android.
Author: Marty Cagan
The Silicon Valley Product Group published this intriguing article. It discusses how with technology products, your customers don’t know what’s possible and they don’t know what they want until they see it. This doesn’t mean you don’t consider your customers one source of true innovation, however.
Author: Edward Scotcher
Negotiation for product managers is a must. This article by Edward Scotcher in Mind the Product discusses the best tips available for negotiating with stakeholders using good political judgment. It’s all about setting and managing expectations.
Author: Ken Norton
Ken Norton read 61 books last year and said it was easier than he thought. This article will help you read the important stuff like the articles listed here without having to block off 80% of your time to do it. Per Ken Norton, you can read about a book a week easily if you follow his five key tips.
Author: Todd Jackson
Todd Jackson was the product manager behind Facebook’s News Feed redesign and the Product Manager on Gmail at Google. He also was the CEO of his own Android startup, Cover which has now been acquired by Twitter. Todd Jackson explains working through tough problems and knowing how to balance multiple interests being a product manager and CEO. Read in a conversation with FirstRound about his experiences becoming a great PM.
Author: John Cutler
John Cutler discusses why change is important and how to do it and what to avoid. Sometimes it’s a fight you can’t win. He lays out his 12 bottom-up change hints with no fluff, but lots of detail and insight. His number one hint sets the tone: “Email is a terrible way to advocate for change.”
Author: Melissa Perri
Melissa Perri, CEO of Produx Labs and Product Institute, learned the difference between a strategy and a plan the hard way—bumping heads with her CTO. She explains how your strategy is not a plan to build certain features and capabilities. It’s a “system of achievable goals and visions that work together to align the team around desirable outcomes.”
Author: Clayton M. Christense, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, David S. Duncan
Harvard Business Review published this article in its print magazine and later online about how a correlation in customer data does not lead to casualty. You cannot, nor should you, base decisions on correlations. The article lays out instances from which you can learn how others mistook the data and ended up failing spectacularly.
Author: Art Markman
Another Harvard Business Review article, the way your team brainstorms doesn’t actually work. In fact, decades of studies show that using conventional brainstorming techniques result in fewer good ideas than people would have produced on their own. The article lays out how to brainstorm more effectively.
Author: Daniel Elizalde
Daniel Elizalde is an IoT Product Coach & Advisor that provides real-world training to IoT product managers, discusses how he “discovered the importance of having a data strategy the hard way.” The key is to not make data the end itself, but rather, use it as a tool to help you derive value.
Author: Amanda Stockwell
Published in UX Mastery, this article discusses how Agile is everywhere. Those in the user experience field have to adapt and adopt practices to stay in alignment with software development. She lays out the specific considerations of adapting UX practices to Agile while keeping the core tenets of successful UX research the same.
Author: Jon Lax
Jon Lax presented at a Design & Content Conference in Vancouver, B.C., on using playbooks for designing and building products. You can read his speaker’s notes and see the slides he used. Learn more about how the actions you repeatedly and consistently execute make up the “thing you are best at.”
Author: Julie Zhou
Another article by Julie Zhuo, Product Design VP at Facebook, this one answers the question, “How can I address direction from upper management that I suspect will harm or even derail the product?” She talks about how it’s a common situation and lays out 4 things to avoid and 2 things to do to help you manage.
Author: Ellen Chisa
Ellen Chisa is co-founder of www.EllenAndPaulsNewStartup.com. She discusses how the most popular framework that puts the PM in the middle of UX, Tech, and Business may not be the best. She offers an alternate framework based on Empathizing—Systemizing that helps to break down PM responsibilities much better.
Author: Ryan Singer
In the Medium publication “Signal v. Noise,” Ryan Singer states that “Claiming there’s a True Agile somewhere in the past or future doesn’t help.” He is in Strategy and Design at Basecamp where they work in cycles, and he explains why you “need three other practices to ship on time and in good health.”
Author: Richard Feloni
The lead-in to the interview states, “The T-Mobile CEO who calls his competition ‘dumb and dumber’ explains how he doubled customers in 4 years and how a group of employees made him cry.” This is a longer article, but well worth the time to see how one person can innovate and lead outside the “cookie-cutter business-school leader” mold.
Author: Ken Norton
This article is based on a keynote speech given at the Mind the Product conference in London. Ken Norton uses Kodak’s failure to jump on the digital market as the basis for asserting a new decision theory. He says most companies go with the “sure thing” instead of the more innovative, but riskier wager that might pay off bigger. Norton says you should shoot for making something 10 times better rather than 10 percent better.
Bookmark these amazing articles so you can return to them again. You may find wisdom you missed the first time around.