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Want to Excel as a Product Manager? These 5 Books are for You

The appetite to learn and evolve is the greatest trait needed for a successful career, yet it’s the least talked about. Often, in the process of learning the ropes of a profession, we tend to forget that learning never stops.

There are reasons aplenty which make books an irreplaceable knowledge resource. From novices to seasoned professionals, everyone can learn from books, especially from industry insiders, and broaden their horizons.

Product manager jobs are those which straddle multiple industries and responsibilities. With the landscape of product management shapeshifting with every passing day, professionals have to update their skill set as well as amenability every once in a while. They must never forget to learn, and books are the right way to keep their minds sharp.

So here we have listed a set of must-reads for product managers that will not only give them insights and anecdotes into the business but will also inspire them. Read on!

  1. INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Keeping up with our promise, the first book is sure to get your innovative fluids flowing. In an era where digital rules the roost, this one is the first one to grab. Written by none other than Marty Cagan, someone who’s considered a pioneer in Silicon Valley, the new edition lays great emphasis on the role of a product manager in the tech world. He lays it all down in very simple terms, free of jargon, and instead shines the light on conceptual frameworks. 

Another area that Cagan pays attention to is how the product manager can directly affect productivity by composing a conducive “product culture”. The book is seminal since it turns traditionality on its head, and prods the reader to go beyond perceived boundaries. 

  1. Beautiful Design by Edward Tufte

Flip the cover of this book, and you’ll find a quote that says “If you look after truth and goodness, beauty looks after herself.” If that isn’t evidence enough for an enchanting read, who knows what is. 

Edward Tufte is a conjurer who’s created a fountain of magic in a subject as dry as data. More than a statistician and political scientist, Tufte’s an artist, a proponent of clever design. Tufte illustrates his points effusively with the aid of modern era designs and ancient diagrams alike. 

  1. Hooked by Nir Eyal

In the world of attention economy, what sticks, sells. And Hooked, as the name suggests, delves into the area of behavioural design, which unlocks the key for the designing of viral products. Hooked is recommended for those who wish to make products that are addictive, in a positive sense of the word; apps that make life easier and apps that are ubiquitous and all-encompassing. 

All this is achieved by understanding the psyche of the user, and designing what suits their needs. 

  1. Measure What Matters by John Doerr

John Doerr has been the doyen of the management community for a long span. His most crucial contribution to the art and science of building a business has been the case of OKRs – objective and key results.

While profitability is one of the obvious goals, in Measure What Matters, Doerr expounds his theory as to how the ultimate targets set by a firm can differ them from run-off-the-mill businesses. He breaks down how each level and department can create synergy by focussing on smaller, but aligned goals. 

  1. Escaping The Build Trap by Melissa Perri

As long as productivity, and not utility, is the yardstick of success, the “build trap” will survive. Perri’s book is a small but significant step towards dismantling the hegemony of output and replacing it with outcomes. It is an attempt to redefine the value of a product by how it affects the user’s life and not the company’s arsenal of launches.

Product management is one of the most exciting professions right now. But it requires patience, knowledge, innovation, and amenability – some of the things you can learn by reading about the travails of those who’ve made it to the top.  

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