The role of a product manager requires a broad set of skills. You must be knowledgeable about product strategy, design, roadmapping and other aspects of development. But you also must be an effective leader who can inspire a team to collaborate on bringing a product to success.
Preparation and research are essential for any product manager looking to sharpen their skills, which is why you should always seek the best product management books to read. As the authors of product manager books have worked in their fields for years, they all have unique wisdom to share.
And it’s worth reading widely, as no single book is going to cover everything. The books listed below cover different facets of product management, from general leadership advice to actionable product-development techniques. These must-read books for product managers include practical tips, insights from top leaders in the tech industry, humbling personal stories, and step-by-step guides. Many are international bestsellers, all of them are highly rated and they have all been written, read, or recommended by successful product managers.
The benefits of continuing product management education
Expertise is about continually broadening your horizons, expanding what you know and learning from the successes and failures of others. By reading inspiring stories and learning about different frameworks that have worked for top companies, you’re setting yourself and your team up for success.
Some of these books have been around for years and continue to top bestseller charts in the business world, while others are new and highly relevant to the 2022 tech landscape. Technology evolves quickly—so every product manager should have a comprehensive reading list to keep up with the trends and to stay ahead of the competition.
20 best product management books recommended by PMs
1. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love, by Marty Cagan
In Inspired, Cagan—founder and partner at Silicon Valley Product Group—shares the techniques that the best tech companies use to create products. The book is aimed at product managers who work with technology-based products, whether at a small start-up or a large enterprise and details the ideal product journey. It provides an in-depth look at product strategies for top companies like Google and Adobe, as well as a variety of other retailers and manufacturers that leverage technology.
2. Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products, by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones
Empowered is Cagan’s sequel to Inspired, focusing more on the organization and its people than on the product. The book explores how the world’s most innovative companies thrive by empowering their teams to have a vision of the strategic objective of a project, rather than just completing tasks. Through examples such as Amazon, Netflix and Tesla, you’ll see how to be a great leader who can harness your team’s potential.
3. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal
Hooked dives into the process that successful companies use to achieve user engagement, and examines the characteristics of the products that create loyal customers. Written for product managers and other managerial roles, this book explains the “Hook Model”—a step-by-step guide that helps you build a product that can become intricately woven into the day-to-day lives of its users.
4. Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown
A #1 New York Times Bestseller, Dare to Lead coaches you on how to be a strong leader through empathy, connection and courage. It’s easy to become singularly focused on a product or a deliverable, and forget that you’ll need a confident and supported team to reach your goals. Brown shares insight into vulnerabilities shared by the best leaders in the world, and the difficult conversations they have with their teams to ensure alignment and inclusivity.
5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink
Drive will make you think about motivation differently—and as a leader, this can boost your team’s productivity and happiness. Pink explains why employees should receive a level of compensation that removes money as a motivating factor. So what tools can you give your team to ensure they stay inspired and productive? Drive looks at how autonomy can increase engagement, mastery can maximize competency and purpose can drive retention.
6. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You, by Julie Zhuo
In The Making of a Manager, Zhuo shares her story of how daunting becoming a manager was at the start of her career, and how she overcame the self-doubt and anxiety that can accompany the responsibilities of oversight. She takes us through everything she has learned through years of managing teams and people by sharing examples, insights and practical advice on how to get the most out of the people whose work you depend on.
7. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries
Building on the lessons learned from an expensive failed product launch that didn’t adequately account for the wants of their target customers, The Lean Startup is a popular book for startups—especially software companies. Ries emphasizes innovation, creativity and scientifically backed methods, offering advice about how to succeed in the early phases of the product life cycle. It’s easy to focus entirely on a product when you’re strategizing. This book makes sure that you remember to account for the audience the product is for.
8. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, by Timothy Ferriss
Finding common threads in the motivations and habits of the world’s top performers, Tribe of Mentors is exactly how it sounds: a collection of experts giving you sound advice. The book summarizes the experiences of more than 130 successful entrepreneurs, athletes, artists and investors. From meditation routines to work-life balance strategies to processes to help you synthesize overwhelming amounts of information, this book covers a wide variety of helpful blueprints to be the best you can be in product management, and in your life.
9. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, by Geoffrey A. Moore and Regis McKenna
First published in 1991, and last updated in 2014, Crossing the Chasm changed the conversation around entrepreneurial marketing. The book is especially important if you’re introducing a product that has disruptive potential in your industry. It can help you understand the importance of bridging the gap between the early, enthusiastic adopters of your technology, and the majority who will wait to see if your product is worth discontinuing what they are already using. Even if your product doesn’t fit that description, Moore and McKenna’s book still offers a fascinating perspective on best-practices in a product lifecycle.
10. Measure What Matters, by John E. Doerr
After discovering how objectives and key results (OKRs) could help organizations in the 1970s, venture capitalist John Doerr shared his findings in Measure What Matters. The goal-setting method has become standard practice for its ability to facilitate collaboration, clarify priorities and create a transparent business where all goals are aligned. Through case studies, quotes from top Silicon Valley leaders, and actionable advice, Measure What Matters will change your goal-setting approach and harmonize your team.
11. Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value, by Melissa Perri
Escaping the Build Trap focuses on customer-centric marketing—a pillar of product management. It explains how businesses can fall into the “build trap” by designing products that are geared more toward the company’s schedule than the customer’s needs. Perri discusses how an effective product manager can achieve a balance between the two by changing the focus from output to functionality, along with other insights into what makes a creative, effective product manager, and what that career path looks like.
12. The Insights Driven Product Manager, by Corinna Stukan
The Insights Driven Product Manager is a guide on how to remove the clutter from key information in order to make better product decisions. Any successful organization understands the need for relevant data in the modern marketplace. This book helps to zero in on what data you should be considering when making critical decisions for your product plan, including what metrics to consider and when to use qualitative or quantitative data. Written for product managers and leaders at tech companies, it’s full of advice on how to become more insights-driven, create product roadmaps and other essential facets of the PM role.
13. The North Star Playbook, by John Cutler and Jason Scherschligt
The North Star Playbook is Amplitude’s densely informative guide to building better products and making better decisions. It’s practical, but also philosophical, as it explores The North Star Framework—a proven model for managing products by identifying one crucial metric to represent the value your product provides to customers. Product development can be a complicated process, involving many stakeholders with differing methodologies. By aligning teams around a single goal, product managers can simplify decision-making, improve collaboration and most importantly, create sustainable growth.
14. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback, by Dan Olsen
The Lean Product Playbook is the second book on this list about lean methods of business and product development. Full of step-by-step guidance, this book keeps product managers and other leaders in mind. It’s a practical guide to navigating the critical early phases of the product life cycle, including strategy, deciding on a minimum viable product (MVP), prototyping and testing.
15. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz
Every great project started as an idea. So how quickly can you confidently get from the opaque early phases to how your product will look and function in real life? Sprint elaborates on the five-day problem-solving method that originated at Google Ventures, and has since been applied to several companies looking for answers they can trust during the nascent stage of their product development. The book looks at how to avoid wasting resources through endless testing, and how to move from prototype to final decision over the course of a business week.
16. Product Analytics for Dummies, by Amplitude and Wiley
Understanding product analytics is the first step towards delivering continual value to customers and driving growth with your digital product. That’s why the Amplitude team, working with Wiley Books, put together Product Analytics for Dummies to help you get started. The resource helps you answer questions like, “How do I know the best time to experiment with the customer experience?” and “What kinds of recommendations have the most impact on customers?”
The book also dives into data management, behavioral targeting, product-led growth, and personalized experiences: key tenants to managing a successful product.
17. Outcomes Over Output: Why Customer Behavior is the Key Metric for Business Success, by Joshua Seiden
Outcomes Over Output is a guide to putting the customer at the center of your goals. Seiden, an expert on agile and lean development, offers practical advice on using outcomes to guide your team. Instead of chasing endless features for your software product that ultimately provide little value, the book helps product managers determine specific customer-centric outcomes to sharpen their teams’ focus.
18. Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value, by Teresa Torres
Continuous Discovery Habits is a guide to applying discovery methods during all phases of product development. It’s easy to become untethered from the customer experience as a product moves through its development. This book provides advice on how to make sure you’re delivering products that meet both business and customer needs, making it an excellent resource for product managers—especially as a follow-up to Cagan’s Inspired.
19. Game Thinking: Innovate Smarter & Drive Deep Engagement with Design Techniques from Hit Games, by Amy Jo Kim
Game Thinking takes an interesting approach to product design by examining how video games drive user engagement. Kim details a step-by-step system for creating products that are so essential to their users they become “superfans”—extremely loyal customers a company never has to worry about retaining. She shares wisdom gained from years of working on games like The Sims and Rock Band, which can be applied to lean and agile product development. This book is a valuable tool for any product manager who wants to create an innovative product.
20. Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction While Embracing Uncertainty, by C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, Michael Connors
Product Roadmaps Relaunched is a practical guide to creating one of the most valuable resources a project manager can have—a reliable product roadmap. It includes advice for leadership, prioritizing, development and communication. The interviews and case studies offer glimpses into successful real-world roadmaps, and help PMs determine how to balance unwavering priorities with inevitable changes and challenges.
There’s a wealth of knowledge in this literature that has the power to create dynamic, innovative leaders and transform companies. So whether you’re looking to implement OKRs, improve your leadership skills, create a product roadmap, or hone any other skill relating to the PM role, assembling a reliable arsenal of top books for product managers is a great place to start.
Interested in taking your learning beyond the books? Consider attending a product-led growth webinar or workshop today.