The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Tuesday
Jul082014

Five Great Product Management Books

1. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products is a great book that delves into the relationship between behavior and product adoption.

Nir Eyal distilled years of research, consulting and practical experience to write Hooked. Who doesn't want to design a product that becomes part of the daily fabric of consumers' lives? Businesses know that habits are hard to give up, and marketing alone can not convince people to take up a new one.

Nir's model to create the "hook" is simple enough to understand, even though the psychology of human behavior is not.

2. Creativity, Inc Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way of True Inspiration  is not strictly a product management book in the traditional sense. However, the book hits on some of the key traits that product managers need to be successful, including inspiring creativity in others, the importance of storytelling, and the value of a candid, yet sensitive culture. Written by Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, this book will help most product managers elevate their leadership game.

3. The Four Steps to the Epiphany launched the Lean Startup approach to new ventures. Author Steve Blank currently teaches entrepreneurship and customer development at Stanford University School of Engineering and at U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Often spoken about in the same breadth as another product management classic, Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm, The Four Steps to the Epiphany  introduces the notion of customer development as a critical component of the product development process, encouraging entrepreneurs to go to market with minimally featured products, to attract early customers, and to validate market theories. The iterative process is an essential part of agile product development.

4. Making Things Happen, Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun is an essential book for product managers, not just program or project management leads. Are you a product leader who labors without a strong PMO to support them? Making Things Happen covers the fundamentals of planning, tracking and managing teams to deliver enterprise class technology projects, and provides a framework for handling the communications and relationships across a complex matrixed organization. 

5. Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience  helps product designers and product managers rapidly experiment with design ideas, validate them with real users, and continually adjust your design based on what you learn. Keeping designers engaged in the agile development process can be a challenge, but this books helps bring the designers toolkit into the process of defining the Minimum Viable Product.

In the late 1990's while at Visio Corp, the Visio Enterprise product team I led won a Jolt Award from Dr. Dobbs. Lean UX received the 2013 Jolt Award from Dr. Dobb's Journal as the best book of the year, so maybe that's my bias towards this quick and easy guidebook. At a brief 152 pages, it can easily be read on a cross country flight, which is just what I did. 

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