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My Favorite Product Management & Entrepreneurial Books of 2018

My Favorite Product Management & Entrepreneurial Books of 2018

. 5 min read

In searching out what books to read in order to get a leg up in the world of Product Management, I realized something. There aren't many great resources on the topic. Everyone has their own slant on running a product, every product team is different. That makes it hard to recommend a particular set of books for any one person. So rather than straight out tell you that you need to be reading Book A or Book B, I'm just going to document which books I've learned the most from so far. I'll be coming back to this list regularly throughout the year in order to keep it up-to-date, so be sure to check back.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, & Brad Kowitz

This is one of the first books that I picked up on the topic of interative development. I've always been a fan of the Lean Startup methodology, and this book marries that perfectly to running a product. Rather than attempting to push an overview of running a 'Lean' product, this book relies on practical applications. The sheer number of valuable activities that I picked up from this book is amazing. It really helped me to start thinking about running better Sprint planning meetings. If you're organization is small, or is just running 'Lean', then this book is a must. Even if you are a part of a larger organization, I'd still highly recommend this book. It provides awesome activities that you can use with your team to get them thinking about customer's views and the nuances of product development and customer discovery.

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland

This is easily my favorite Product Management book of 2018. This book just clicked for me. I found myself rereading passages of the book thinking "Yes! This is the methodology I've been searching for". I've never really dug deep into Scrum, but this book has started me on a journey. Ever since I finished Scrum, I've been pouring over more and more resources around how to run a product team using Scrum. It's fascinating to explore, and I couldn't recommend this book more to those just starting out in Product Management. Even if Scrum-based thinking isn't for you (which I think it should be), it's still a great way gain some initial exposure to Scrum. You know, just in case you end up on a team being run by someone like me...

Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwalder

Another book heavily rooted in practical applications and activities, rather than thought exercises. I enjoyed this book a lot, but was a bit less impressed by the overall usefulness of some of the activities. It's a very well designed book, and by no means a long read. I'm currently walking through running workshops with my company on defining our customer's using the User Canvases from this book. I highly recommend this book as a secondary companion to Sprint. It is a fantastic resource for new Product Managers looking for ways to get other departments involved in the product design process. Even if you just read Value Proposition Design to better understand the concept of value propositions, it's worth your time.

Don't Make Me Think (Revisited) by Steve Krug

I first read this book back in 2014, when I was still fairly new to the UI/UX game. It's definitely a relic of a different age of development and design, but the ideals stand true. Sometimes I come back to this book just to be reminded of the simple design things I forget. If you haven't explored much regarding User Experience or User Interface design, this is a great place to start. Simple to read, with tried and true values for designing easy to use software or websites.

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Reis

This book is one that I need to give another read. Much like many of the books that I was assigned to read earlier in life, this didn't get the credit it was due. When I used to help manage a startup accelerator, every company was required to read The Lean Startup. It was the central methodology for the accelerator and what each company was coached through during their time with us. Eric Reis helped to launch thousands of startups with this book, and it's a fantastic resource for any budding or established entrepreneur.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Another book that I read when I was just starting out in the entrepreneurial world was The Power of Habit. While it's more of a productivity focused book, there is a lot you can glean from this book about how habits form around products. Every person builds and maintains habits within their lives. Learning how you can mold yours to improve your life and increase your productivity is a great skill. Whether you use that power for evil or good is up to you, but having that understanding is important.

Rework by Jason Fried

I think that I've reread Rework about 6 times by now. It's sort of like spring cleaning. Once a year, I download the audiobook and give it a listen in order to refresh the ideas in my mind. It's the sort of reminder that I need in order to keep myself grounded. Don't overextend myself too much, be productive, learn from mistakes. I'll continually come back to this book because the message is simple and it provides me an easy way to remember what matters within my worklife.

Essential Scrum by Kenneth Rubin

When I initially picked up this book, my work colleagues said that out of everything I purchased, this one looked like the most boring book possible. I was apt to agree with them at the time. It sounded like an interesting book, but I assumed that it would be a bit dry. I was pleasantly surprised when the book turned out to be not only easy to read, but also extremely helpful to my understanding of 'proper Scrum'. With useful and practical tips for implementing Agile methodologies, as well as a great overview of what a Scrum team should look like, this book was a fantastic resource. I would highly recommond this book to anyone in their first year of Agile development, as it does a great job of preparing you for success.