Books worth reading to every product manager.
Never read books for self-education just like that, without practice. This is the worst thing when a person reads a bunch of books, and then tries to get a job as a product manager, waving book knowledge. Such applicants are immediately visible. And it's great if a person at work starts developing himself as a product manager. Very often, product managers behave like products. For example, testers begin to read useful books, unlike developers who sit and write code without reading anything about the same flexible methodologies.
I learned from my experience how offensive it is to spend a lot of time and money on something, and then you read a book that describes all the mistakes I made. And if I had read it before, I could have avoided it, everything could have been different. And if you want to develop in your profession, it is better not to repeat the mistakes of others, or to do it consciously. And the books are very helpful in this. Let me advise you the books that are recommended to read to each product manager.
Each product manager should be able to ask questions and understand what the user is. “Ask Mama” is a book about customer development, about common sense, about users, with excellent examples and descriptions of characteristic mistakes.
Texts are important because users actually read them. And many product managers have a drawback - they do not know how to write well. But it is the products that best understand their product, and they must fill it with text. And how to do it correctly, it is written in "Write, cut."
On the hook (Inspired: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love)
This book is about how to create products. Here are examples of how users perceive the product, what is important for them, what mistakes can be made. Do not look for solutions for your practical issues here, this book is about the right thinking for a product.
The book is about attitudes towards users. In many companies where I worked, there was this practice: developers are sent for several days to work in a support service, in moderation. From there, people go out by others. Often, they start coding right there: “ Yes, I'll fix this crap now in five minutes. How did I know that it was such a pain? This task has been hanging for a long time. But if I knew, I would have done it differently . ” And then the developers are already saying the products, what problems the users have, they have a growing motivation to solve some problems.
In lean software development there is the concept of a certain unified working cycle, in which all developers should be as close as possible to the user. And this is the task for a good product - to bring the development as close as possible to the user by means of a user story, a job story, explanations, and so on. The book "On the hook" about how you can love users, what it really leads to. She inspired so many successful people. Yes, the changes will not be quick, but deep.
From good to great
The book is about how really cool companies are created. In 2010 - 2014 there was an era of consultants who promised to immediately do anything. But if we analyze the success of Pampers, Gillette and many other large companies that have gradually reached their heights, it turns out that they are obliged to ordinary employees, and not “stars”. Really cool companies are built quietly, and not through loud PR.
If a product manager wants to manage the ecosystem around him - developers and other products - if he grows up as a senior or a CPO, interacting with all structures, then he must understand that this requires hard work. On the example of companies that are described in this book, it becomes clear that it is not necessary to promote a lot and speak at conferences. However, there is no single recipe. Proof of this is Yula service. There may be no processes, maybe chaos, but business is growing.
A book about disruptive innovation. If you work in a large company, you have to put up with the fact that at some point you can simply move out of the market, and you will not even notice it.
What makes this happen? For example, reciprocating excavators forced cable from the market. When the piston models just appeared, they were much worse than spent cable, which occupied the billionth market. But with the development and improvement of piston excavators eventually ousted cable from the market, the manufacturers of which at first did not give the competitors any value, and then it was too late.
The product manager always has two guises: you need to improve the existing one, but at the same time think about something innovative, undermining the market, that: a) in the future, your product, your business will drive; b) will not allow to die in the competition. It is necessary to compete with something different - perception, positioning, features - but not with value. The book has a lot of excellent examples with numbers that show how some companies were able to rebuild, and some could not. This book is also about analytics and strategic, large-scale thinking that many product managers lack so much.
Flexible project and product management
The author Boris Volfson was CTO Banki.ru and now is the technical director of HeadHunter. In his book, he very concisely described everything that is needed for the development of a product. Most often, the product manager is responsible for the product being rolled out, and not just writing tasks, so he must understand how this is done. The value of understanding the theory and processes is not that you can say “they have it like this, let's do the same”, but the fact that you can correctly apply this knowledge in your situation. That is, he is able to come up with what to do in any situation.
This book is about all sorts of processes, about how teams can be structured, how they interact. A lot of examples supported by numbers. I especially remember the schedule about refactoring. I always thought that refactoring is very difficult to justify, but Boris completely refuted this belief.
Business from scratch
This is a basic book. It was written when the “startup” was a trend word, which was inserted everywhere. In fact, a book about frugality. From the theory of Lean, the essence of which is to reduce losses, all our Scrum and Agile originate. Take, for example, Scrum: an iteration has passed, you sit down and watch what you did wrong. Correcting and doing better the next time: iterative reduction of losses, including for unnecessary interactions with other people.
This approach has been widely adopted thanks to the Toyota Production System, which is based on the PDCA cycle (plan-do-check-act) - first you plan, do, check, apply. But the most important thing is analysis. Thrift is that you gradually accelerate very much, and for this you need to constantly go through the PDCA cycle, this is very important.
Although it is the startup that is most interested in minimizing costs, still 80% of the book is devoted to the product: how to create, test, do MVP, what not to do and how to.
The book is about the Russian market, about novice products, about those who just want to enter the industry. The book will help beginners to understand how many modern companies were created, about investors. It “humanizes” our IT market.
Strangely enough, this book is about Intel: how the company was created, how and with whom it competed, and along the way tells the story of many other companies, including AMD and Microsoft. It will be very useful to read to people who want to enter the international market, what are the rules there, what should be sacrificed. Although the book is quite old, but it describes the basis, which is laid in all IT-companies in the same US.
One of the founders of Intel was Andrew Grove, who today is considered one of the best business executives in history. He developed a number of management techniques that are widely used in IT today.
Deadline. A novel about project management
The only novel about IT: how a huge development is carried out from scratch, how people interact. All sorts of rules, laws, nuances, pitfalls are described. All this applies to Western companies. It is easy to read, but a lot of information remains in my head about how to form teams, how to motivate, what rules to follow.
For example, the question arose: how to motivate developers to work more efficiently and not force them to recycle? All were transferred to stationary computers and at 18:00 turned off the electricity in the office. Everyone knew about it, so they smoked less and wasted time, everyone had a good family life. This is how people were encouraged to plan and use work time efficiently. Today, this approach is used in many advanced design studios.
* * *
These books will help the product manager to shape a certain mindset. In general, there are two types of products: “launchers” and “improvers”. Some do not like others. The “starters” consider themselves and their own visionaries, while the “improvers” look better than all kinds of metrics. But the books listed are for both categories. They will help to form the basis, structure knowledge, so that there is something to talk about at the interviews and with colleagues.