This is the Vision and Bricks list of the best product management books for our day. Learn product management from the ground up or brush up on your skills.
General Product Management Books
The General Assembly’s Practitioner’s Guide to Product Management provides a solid overview of the product management.
This is a great primer among product management books. It will help you understand the practical skills you will need to acquire for an entry level product management role at a tech company.
Code is a popular book for university survey courses in computer science. For product managers looking to build their foundations in computer science, it is a great place to start.
The Mythical Man Month is a time honored book in software and project management introduction courses.
It is a great primer for concepts you will need to get along with your engineering teams.
Product Planning & Roadmapping
Roman Pichler’s book was the first to fill a much needed gap in product management books. It defines the product management role with Agile teams and answers important questions like:
- What is the role of a Product Owner vs. a Product Manager?
- How should I structure a backlog of features and user stories?
- How do I scale Agile across multiple teams and products?
- How do I develop roadmaps and release plans?
Agile Estimating and Planning explains the practical aspects of managing agile projects and planning product releases for Agile teams.
It is the go-to among product management books for Agile product planning and roadmapping.
Mike Cohn was one of the original inventors of Scrum and provides a wealth of experience and practical tips.
With this book, Mike Cohn takes readers into the nitty gritty of writing user stories and developing product backlogs.
The book answers all the practical questions that come up once a product manager begins the journey of developing a product backlog:
- What makes a good user story?
- Where do I find user stories?
- Which users do I write them for?
- How do I handle technical requirements users don’t even know about?
User Experience & Design
Story Mapping is a powerful technique for developing users stories by mapping them to the users’s journey completing a task with your product.
Too many product managers feel lost in the weeds once they do start breaking a project down into user stories. Few product management books cover this practical challenge.
Jeff Patton’s ground breaking book helped define a methodology to create a coherent, user centric backlog of user stories.
UX Strategy is one of the best books out there for digital product managers who need to manage the User Experience design process and drive the strategy behind it.
Information Architecture provides a deeper, more tactical dive into the underlying principles of information architecture in design.
Product managers working with simple apps may opt to skip this one. However, it’s a must-read for product managers with information intensive products such as media web sites and data applications.
Product Managers play a central role in facilitating design discussions. All too often, products fall prey to decision traps like:
- Design by Committee
- Executive Meddling in Design Driven Decisions
- Inside-Out Thinking
Discussing Design offers practical frameworks for facilitating those discussions to be more user-centric and design driven.
Similar to Discussing Design, Tom Greever’s book offers practical tips on how to present your design and articulate its goals:
- How to run a design meeting
- How to work with designers
- How to build a design culture in your company
If you plan on managing design intensive products, this book is the practical follow-up to Discussing Design.
Web Analytics & User Research
Lean Analytics is the book of our time for product managers building a data-driven product management culture at a lean startup.
This book covers the full range of today’s digital products:
E-commerce, SaaS, Media, Mobile Apps, Social Media, etc.
The writers have literally written giant tomes on this topic, but this book concisely covers the fundamentals. There is even a friendly cheatsheet to go with it.
Practical Web Analytics is an underrated book on Amazon that covers the fundamentals of web analytics.
Too many books cover just a specific tool like Google and Adobe. Or, they focus on fields like SEO or eCommerce. Others are a little too outdated and miss key topics like Social Media or Mobile Analytics.
For product managers entering the job market, this book covers the fundamentals of understanding your users with today’s analytics tools.
For Product Managers looking for a deep dive, Avinash’s book offers a deep dive into web analytics. It covers useful topics for product managers like how to listen to users, competitive intelligence, and how to do A/B testing.
Marketing Analytics is one of the best books I’ve read on data driven product management.
The book is part data science, part marketing strategy. It covers the data science behind a range of topics that will be of interest to both product managers and product marketing managers alike.
The Wall Street Journal offers this simple guide on how to present data. It is like the Strunk and White of charts. Great for product managers looking to polish their presentation of data in reports and internal presentations.
If you manage a data driven product, at some point you will need to design reporting and dashboards.
Stephen Few’s books provide a handy desk reference for how to present data online in both web and mobile applications. Full of simple concise advice, they come with clear, visual examples.
Neither book comes in a Kindle format, but you’ll want to keep them on your desk. Not only are they useful, they’re beautiful.
Stephen Few’s follow-on book to Show me the Numbers focuses on Dasbhoard Design.
The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup revolution. Today, Customer Development is central to the product management role. This book defines the framework for how to build a company through Customer Development.
The Startup Owner’s Manual is an equally valuable book on how to do Customer Development. Published years after The Four Steps to the Epiphany, this book delivers a step-by-step guide for how to build a company through the Customer Development framework.
The Lean Startup is the seminal work that launched the lean startup movement in 2011. Eric Ries was a student of Steve Blank’s Customer Development method. He combined customer development with lean management techniques to create this widely embraced approach to building a start-up.
The Lean Product Playbook is the practical guide for product managers developing products using the lean method.
Among all the product management books out there, product managers love this one for it’s clear, concise advise without fluff and full of real-world applications.
Ben Horowitz’s book is a Silicon Valley favorite for entrepreneurs.
It is written mostly for founders, but product managers at young companies will find it compelling to help them understand and walk a mile in their executives’ shoes.
New Product Development
A great book from the man who coined the phrase Disruptive Innovation.
“Disruption” is now such an overused phrase that it’s worth going back to its roots. After reading this book, so will understand hallmark traits of a true disruptive product.
Crossing the Chasm teaches the art of taking disruptive products into the mainstream.
Business Model Generation teaches Product Managers and Entrepreneurs how to identify opportunities and build business models for their products using the Lean Canvas model.
Every Product Manager needs to be able to clearly communicate and re-enforce the value proposition of their product. Value Proposition Design explains how to develop a value proposition for your product.
Blueprints is fundamental reading for a product manager at a SaaS company. Don’t let the title fool you. Half the book is about the blueprints for different kinds of SaaS companies. It explains how product management and marketing have to work to support those models. Probably the most useful section is on SaaS Product metrics and KPIs.
This book gives product managers models and frameworks to work effectively with their marketing and sales teams.
Capstone Product Management Books
Cracking the PM Interview is written by two experienced Silicon Valley recruiters.
When you’re ready to land in the job market, this is a good read for how to prepare for those job interviews.
The Product Manager’s Desk Reference is exactly that: a desk reference to consult when you need it.
Not everyone will read this book from back-to-back. However, it’s a great reference for solving specific problems.
Much of the advice is oriented toward enterprise product management, but the fundamentals are all there.
Product Management for Dummies is a classic among product management books. It provides a primer on almost every topic in product management. Brian Lawley of the 280 Group is a veteran instructor and consultant of product managers.
This book takes every topic in product management and pulls it all together.