In this post I’d like to highlight the 5 books that deeply influenced the way I think about Product Management. They were written by people who truly understand and love their craft and cover diverse topics like economic decision making, positioning, marketing, usability design & programming.
Here we go …
Speed, quality, cost – pick three. Hands down the best book on Product Management I’ve read so far. Donald Reinertsen clearly explains the challenges in developing software products and offers pragmatic solutions to drastically improve time-to-market, economic value & product quality in a refreshingly down-to-earth manner.
The book busts traditional product management myths and introduces well-known concepts from Lean Manufacturing to the world of software development.
Reinertsen shows how economic decision making, managing queues, reducing batch size & applying work-in-progress constraints help to create better products faster. The book points out where the concepts make sense, why they work and when we need to adapt them for the software development context.
Reinertsen manages to not only explain the how but also the why. If you are in product development this book is invaluable.
In a world where customers are overladen with information & advertising it is crucial to understand how to cut through the noise and position your product in the market – and ultimately in the mind of your target audience.
This book is an easy to read introduction to product & brand positioning and comes with a ton of illustrative examples. Once you’ve understood the importance of positioning many tough product management efforts like managing the scope, pipeline of features, sales and marketing will fall into line.
In this book John Caples shares his lessons learned from over 60 years (!) in marketing & copywriting. His strong background in direct-mail marketing and his drive to quantify his own marketing efforts makes this book a thrill to read.
The book is full of examples and actual data from various marketing campaigns as well as hands-on how-tos about writing effective marketing headlines, leads & calls to action that actually work.
Even while Caples’ book mainly focuses on direct-mail marketing and was first published in 1931 (!) its lessons learned apply incredibly well to modern inbound marketing channels like social media, drip email marketing, Q & A platforms and content marketing in general.
Everyone knows the frustrating feeling when apps don’t behave as expected. Products with great usability on the other hand are a pleasure to use and have an easier time to create value for their customers.
Designed for Use is the best book you can get about usability of web & mobile applications. It covers a wide range of usability concepts and research in a way that’s very accessible even if your background is in software development. On top of that it illustrates very useful UX methods that you can apply during different steps of your development process.
This book is the swiss army knife of software usability.
In The Pragmatic Programmer Dave Thomas and Andrew Hunt write about the craft of software development. The book is full of pragmatic tips and well written anecdotes for people who are curious about becoming better software developers. Dave & Andrew are truly in love with their craft and are happy to share what they’ve learned over the years.
It’s not surprising that a lot of the book’s advice on topics like testing and the use of version control systems are regarded as the status quo & best practices of today. The Pragmatic Programmer is a fun to read, broad – yet compact reference guide about software development that you can revisit over and over again.
The book is not only a great guide for programmers looking for mentorship & personal growth but also for people who believe in a holistic approach to product management.