Truth be told I was never a fan of formal classroom. As soon as I realized that I learned more by reading and doing I generally avoided class. Most of what I learn comes from reading and doing. Here is my reading list for consumer web product managers. I am always looking to expand my reading list, let me know if you think a book deserves to be on my bookshelf.
Designing & Building Software
- Joel on Software
- More Joel on Software
- Getting Real
- Sketching User Experiences
- Emotional Design
- Making Things Happen
- The Myths of Innovation
- The Mythical Man Month
How People Make Decisions
Beyond the skills of how to build software you need to understand how users (i.e. people) make decisions i.e. get into the head of users.
Strategy & Economics
What is the context you are going to market in? How do you navigate your competitive landscape? How do you identify and leverage emerging trends? These books address these questions and more.
- Crossing the Chasm (moving technology products from early adopter to mass adoption)
- Blue Ocean (re-thinking the problem your trying to solve to differentiate)
- Information Rules (the economics of switching costs and network effects for information based products)
- Only the Paranoid Survive (how 10x changes create inflection points that change the basic rules)
- Innovator’s Dilemma (how established players can try and avoid disruption via newer cheaper alternatives)
- Crowdsourcing (how to engage with people beyond the four walls of your company to build, extend, and market products)
Marketing & Communication
How do you imprint your message into the consumers mind and present your message in a compelling way to employees, customers, investors, etc.
- Positioning the Battle for Your Mind
- The Art of the Start (nobody is better then evangelism and positioning then Guy Kawasaki)
- Presentation Zen (tools to help you translate your ideas into a compelling presentation)
Building something new is hard. These people have built something new.
- Bloomberg on Bloomberg (now known as Mayor Bloomberg. He built the first technology-media company)
- Swimming Across (Andy Grove’s life story. From Holocaust survivor to entrepreneur. A story of perseverance and ambition)
Recruiting and Hiring
- Smart and Gets Things Done (starts strong, ends with some repeats of previous material)
- Hiring Product Managers (a classic blog post by Ken Norton)
Building and Analyzing Financial Value
- Essays of Warren Buffett (Warren’s letter to shareholders organized by topic, this is one of those masterpieces that I should re-read every few years.)
If you don’t understand your strengths and weaknesses or your true motivations (wealth, fame, help people, etc.) you won’t be able to lead others. Get to know yourself.
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
- The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
Articles and Blogs about the Product Management Role