Right now, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of product management books out there. Each as different as the last in terms of the tips, experience and knowledge shared.
With more books comes more research, and the last thing anyone wants to do is spent hours trawling through book sites in search of the best product management books.
Which is where we come in.
We’ve gathered all of the best books on product management so that you don’t have to. Books that every product manager should have in their homes, either on the bookshelf or on the coffee table.
Sure, there’s podcasts, videos and blogs that cover similar themes, but nothing beats a good book.
Especially when those books provide priceless insight into the ever-expansive world of product management.
Let’s not waste anymore time, and jump right in.
Here are the best product management books that we just can’t put down!
When Coffee & Kale Compete by Alan Klement
The first product management book in our list is ‘When Coffee & Kale Compete’ by Alan Klement. It’s first up for a lot of reasons, the most obvious being:
It’s incredibly witty and contextualises a lot of the points within in a very forward and current manner!
There are over 200 pages to ‘When Coffee & Kale Compete.’ with this book covering everything from the thought processes required to reach your intended audience, to staying competitive in your respective market.
Ultimately, the main aim of the book is to help you build products that A) people are interested in, and B) make a difference internally and externally.
Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri
Published in November of 2018, ‘Escaping the Build Trap’ from renowned product management consultant/educator Melissa Perri, is a what-not-do guide to product management.
‘The Build Trap’ is something Perri describes as one of the main reasons as to why so many products fail. She says the following on her website to promote the book:
“When companies measure their success on the amount of features released rather than the customer needs those features fulfil, they are stuck in The Build Trap.”
In the book, she details the various ways that aspiring product managers can avoid the trap by leaning more on creating value instead of hoping products will sell on features alone.
Also, it emphasises three key parts to a successful organisation:
We really like this product management book as it outlines the importance of building products that benefit you and your customers.
The toolbox of information shared can apply to any company too, no matter its size! In other words, any product manager can read it and learn a thing or two.
The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen
Are you an aspiring startup product manager?
If so, this will be the book for you.
In ‘The Lean Product Playbook’ you’re given everything you need to cut as much of the fat from your brand as possible before launching it to your audience.
It could be very easy for a book like this to be quite condescending, only Olsen doesn’t insult the reader with his tips and strategies.
Here’s a quick rundown of what he covers in the book:
- Determining your target customers
- Identifying their needs
- Create a winning product strategy
- Defining your minimum viable product
- And more
‘The Lean Product Playbook’ by Dan Olsen is incredibly easy to read — just in case that wasn’t clear by its cover or who it’s appealing towards.
Basically, it’s an idiot’s guide without calling itself as such. A requirement for some product managers who have little to no experience in the field.
INSPIRED: How To Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
You might have heard of this one as it’s considered by many to be the be best book on product management, period (if your company is in the tech space, that is).
In this book, Marty Cagan, founder of Silicon Valley Product Group has condensed years worth of knowledge and expertise, again, priceless information for product managers.
Cagan looks at how brands like Amazon, Netflix and Tesla have managed reach the top of the mountain and remain there.
Filtered throughout the book is his own experiences and the lessons learned over the years, experiences that carry a lot more weight from someone who’s clearly operated at such a high level and knows what it takes.
It would be a crime not to mention this book in our rundown of the best product management books. After all, many up and coming product managers swear by it.
The name of the book is super relevant as it describes exactly what you’ll feel once you finish it.
Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman
Emotion sells products, and this book from Dan Norman explains why.
In this book you’ll find dozens of real-world examples that shed light on why cheap wine tastes better in fancier glasses, and why sales of Mac computers soared when Apple launched the first coloured version.
The book was released in 2004, but the thought exercises and examples shown are still just as relevant to brands in the modern day.
Norman’s take on products is eye-opening in the best way. He states that having a helpful product is only the first step. For it to resonate, brands must:
“Address our minds by attending to our visceral reactions, to our behavioural choices, and to the stories we want the things in our lives to tell others about ourselves.”
‘Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things’ by Don Norman is a total deep dive into the mind of the consumer and product manager. One that will bring you even closer to your products.
My Product Management Toolkit by Marc Abraham
From blogs to books, Marc Abraham has always had a knack for product management advice.
His book ‘My Product Management Toolkit’ is as comprehensive as it is structured, outlining the importance of research, planning and hard work.
What we really enjoyed about this book is the chapters that cover consumer analysis, and how much analysis is enough to warrant action.
This (knowing how much analysis is enough) isn’t spoken about enough, so it’s refreshing to see it laid out in quite a simplified way.
Like some of the other product management books mentioned, ‘My Product Management Toolkit’ is relevant to all experience levels, and business sizes.
Check it out, it’s a handy tool to keep in your back pocket.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Customer behaviour can be a tough nut to track and crack. How customers react and buy the way they do is something marketers, advertisers, and everyone in-between has been asking themselves for centuries.
‘Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products’ by Nir Eyal provides the answers to these notorious questions and then some.
The Hook Model outlined in this book is a four-step process that can help product managers better understand customer behaviour, and even influence it!
Nir Eyal spent years mapping out this method, basing it on his own research, consulting and practical experience. The result is easily one of the very best books for product managers.
The actionable steps included here have the capacity to help nail your overarching business goals, and ultimately, sell.
The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love by Donna Lichaw
Storytelling is one of the best sales tools there is, and in the hands of an effective product manager, can help them accelerate growth tenfold!
‘The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love’ is all about helping you tell your story through every aspect of the work, from landing pages on the brand website, to your content marketing efforts.
Most product management books cover the importance of telling a story, only this one goes into much greater detail. It’s a book detailing the benefits of cohesion and big picture thinking, essentially.
Donna Lichaw offers a range of books that apply to product managers. For example, ‘Validating Product Ideas: Through Lean User Research’ is another great option (one we’ll cover later).
Mobile Design Pattern Gallery: UI Patterns for Smartphone Apps by Theresa Neil
Austin, Texas-based UX consultant Theresa Neil’s book ‘Mobile Design Pattern Gallery: UI Patterns for Smartphone Apps’ is a very interested read to say the least.
Mobile apps have become a very popular medium in recent years, with a good majority of product managers taking their efforts to smartphones. This book will provide everything you need to know about crafting a fully-optimised site for smartphones.
The topics in ‘Mobile Design Pattern Gallery’ cover all of the following across its chapters:
A statistic shared by TechJury found that mobile apps have higher engagement rates than mobile-optimised websites or desktop web viewing. This makes choosing the right mobile design patterns a top priority.
This book should give you a head start.
Game Thinking by Amy Jo Kim
You might think that a book on how you can innovate and create a dedicated batch of fans in the bustling video game space isn’t relevant to you, but it is in this case.
Game Thinking by Amy Jo Kim is a book all about keeping people glued to the products you’re selling, and most importantly:
How you can succeed in gigantic industries when it seems like you’re up against a tidal wave when it comes to the chances of success.
Amy Jo Kim has worked on The Sims and Rock Band game franchises — two of the largest game franchises there is, period.
The insights shared in this book are incredibly interesting, even if you’re only in it for the behind the scenes game info.
Swipe to Unlock: The Primer on Technology and Business Strategy by Neel Mehta, Parth Detroja & Aditya Agashe
Business strategies come in all shapes and sizes, which can make implementing something relevant quite a difficult task indeed.
Enter ‘Swipe to Unlock: The Primer on Technology and Business Strategy’ from Neel Mehta and Aditya Agashe. Like ‘Escaping the Build Trap,’ this book is targeted at tech-orientated product managers, however the info shared will apply to all.
The book covers multiple topics and benefits, but what it’s really about is accelerating your product career to position yourself for success.
If you’ve ever wondered what “big data,” “the cloud” and “machine learning” mean in an advertising sense then this will be the book for you.
It’s written by three former Microsoft product managers. That should tell you everything you need to know!
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz
Here’s an interesting one, and a New York Times/Wall Street Journal best seller at that!
‘Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days’ is a speedrun in every sense of the word. A speedrun in that it teaches readers how to go from prototype to decision in less than a week.
Between the pages are everything you need to know about this process, complete with action points and case studies.
It was published in 2016 and continues to be a hit amongst product managers and startup founders.
Go read it, you won’t regret it.
Product Management For Dummies by Brian Lawley and Pamela Schure
The ‘For Dummies’ series is a lot like Marmite.
You either hate it or love it. We fall on the latter on this occasion, only because of how complicated product management can be for those just say starting out.
These books don’t cover massive amounts of detail, but there’s no denying the appeal, again, for providing a decent 101 of what is expected from product managers and how you can outline basic strategies.
Lawley and Schure describe it best:
“This friendly and accessible guide quickly gets you up to speed on everything it takes to thrive in this growing field.”
Admit it, you have at least one ‘For Dummies’ book on your shelf at home, don’t you?
Well, why not add another?
Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit by Alex Edmans
Here’s an important question:
Do you run a business for profit or for purpose, which is it?
According to ‘Grow the Pie’ from frequent TED speaker Alex Edmans “it’s not an either-or-choice,” insisting that brands can toe that fine line and not suffer for it.
What’s more, the book has been updated to include the pandemic, research post-pandemic and more! The fact that it covers the pandemic makes it a must-read, in our opinion.
Most books aren’t as on-the-ball as this one. Here’s another example:
In one of the chapters, Edmans explains how investors are the measuring stick for purpose, and how to best navigate communicating with them to unlock value for every party involved.
This is one of the best books for product managers as it acts as the roadmap for maintaining brand consistency while increasing profits.
Just remember to keep a notepad and pen handy when reading this one, as there’s as you’ll definitely take something of note away.
Think Like A CEO by Byron Morrison
The full title for this book is ‘Think Like A CEO: Stop reacting, get out of your own head and take control of your own role,’ which is definitely one of the longest titles we’ve ever seen for a business book.
Length aside, this book is a fantastic teacher in that it encourages product managers — or anyone working in high level positions — to think higher than themselves.
In other words, this book will teach you how to maximise your time, lead with complete confidence and continue to grow your business without going crazy.
Morrison spends a lot of the book bashing what he calls ‘the reactive state’ a state that limits your ability to advance within the company and perform at optimal levels.
Some of the topics covered aren’t that complicated to grasp, which does make for quite an easy read.
It’s a motivating book too, one that will either unlock a new side of you, or unleash a side you forgot.
Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age by Roman Pichler
Leveraging digital strategies is a cornerstone of product management, only the right strategies aren’t always so clear.
This product management book from industry expert Roman Pichler provides the answers to a series of common questions. Questions that cover everything from ‘how can I create successful products?’ To ‘Why isn’t my digital product strategy generating the right kind of interest?’
The digital age is constantly evolving, and with it comes a whole new set of obstacles to overcome.
‘Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age’ will teach you to be a lot more adaptable, not to mention, successfully should you follow the advice to the wire.
MEDDICC: The Ultimate Guide to Staying One Step Ahead in the Complex Sale by Andy Whyte
Billion dollar companies use this book as a field guide, and it’s easy to see why.
‘MEDDICC: The Ultimate Guide to Staying One Step Ahead in the Complex Sale,’ establishes a framework that product managers can implement to successfully predict sales and maximise efficiency.
It’s very straightforward sales book that outlines the fundamentals, only it doesn’t bog the points down with a lot of jargon.
The MEDDICC framework seemingly has an answer for everything too, from quantifying your buyer’s pain points, to seeing the value in your solutions.
What does MEDDICC stand for?
- Sales Metrics
- Economic Buyer
- Decision Process
- Paper Process
- Implicate the Pain
One of the best aspects of the book are the sections on influencing buying decisions, and how to keep yourself organised when there’s a 1,000,001 things going on at any given time.
All in all, it’s definitely worth reading if you’re looking to double-down on the fundamentals, while leaving enough room for innovation.
The Rise of the Agile Leader: Can You Make the Shift? by Chuck Mollor
Looking to elevate your game as a product manager, to reach that upper echelon you’ve been chasing?
‘The Rise of the Agile Leader: Can You Make the Shift?’ from Chuck Mollor, is a lesson in agile learning.
It’s 284 pages of nonstop information and insight that help you shift your current mindset into something a lot more reactive. After reading this book, you’ll be more self-aware and in touch with your surroundings both internally and externally.
This review From Peter P.Dhillon, Chairman of the Board at Ocean Spray Cranberries sums it up nicely:
“This is not your typical theory-based leadership book. Chuck Mollor artfully couples his framework with specific tactics, and provides a blueprint for what organisations need to do to develop their current and future leaders.”
EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products by Marty Cagan
We couldn’t include ‘INSPIRED’ by Marty Cagan and not cover his follow up, the appropriately titled:
‘EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products.’
If ‘INSPIRED’ was about looking outwards, then the follow-up will have you looking within. In other words, this product management book highlights the benefits that come with empowering your team.
Personally, if I had to pick one book out of this list of the best books for product managers, I’d choose this one.
Sure, most books cover the importance of building your team, but none go into it with such detail and nuance.
Plus, the case studies really put everything into perspective, which was always to be expected given Cagan’s previous experience and how well received ‘INSPIRED’ was.
In short, this book will teach you how to turn your brand into a well-oiled machine, creating an environment that champions success every step of the way.
Cracking the PM Career Career by Gayle Laak
Another follow-up to a successful product management book, only this is an example of where the sequel is better than the original.
‘Cracking the PM Interview’ by Gayle Laak came out back in 2013, and it did a fantastic job in providing an entryway into the product management.
‘Cracking the PM Career’ is the next stage in that evolution.
The book is a lot more current in comparison to its predecessor, releasing in 2021, it covers reliable frameworks that apply to markets that are constantly in flux.
“What does it take to become a great product manager and great leader?” And “How do you build your product intuition, hone your execution, strengthen your leadership, and develop your strategic skills?”
All are covered within the book.
There’s also a rundown of what to do within the first 90 days of a product’s lifecycle, which we found incredibly interesting having written guides on that very topic!
Product Management Books: The Ultimate Collection
Have you read any of the product management books mentioned above? If not, definitely check them out.
There’s priceless information shared between all of them, which means reading them is more of a requirement than a suggestion. Especially if you’re someone new to the ever-expanding world of product management.
Again, my favourite of the lot is ‘EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products.’ It’s easily one of, if not the best book for product management.
In second place is ‘Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days.’ Any method that simplifies the planning processes, while mitigating the problems needed to strengthen the brand, gets an A in our book.
Speaking of mitigating problems and strengthening your brand…
We’re Canny Creative, a creative agency that connects you to your customers in a way your competitors can’t.
Product management books are great at outlining what the problems are and the action points that follow. But most managers will still require a helping hand to fully capitalise on the changes they want to make.
We help you make those changes without having to spend the majority of your budget.
Canny helps set you on a path to success through and through.
Get in touch to find out more!