My favourite books on product management

I’m the sort of person who normally only needs to do so something only a few times before building a system to automate it. Interestingly one of the things that I haven’t done this for is the question ‘What are the best books you have read on product management’?


I was asked this again this weekend and I thought –its time – I’ll write a post instead of just typing out just the last few books that came to mind.


IMO to be a good product manager you need just a few of product skills & knowledge, but a lot of very general skills. For me, the general knowledge is easier to pick up in books. That’s why you will see of the 40 – odd books I’m recommending below just a few PM books, but many, many more in business or leadership. I compiled this list just by asking which books have I read that made me excited, or gave me a new way to look at the world. I added *** below to indicate the must reads.  

Core Product Management Skills:

 ** Inspired

by Marty Cagan

You should also read Empowered by Marty Cagan


by Nir Eyal

Note: if you read Hooked you should also read the counterpoint- Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life - By: Nir Eyal , Julie Li

The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

By: Rob Fitzpatrick

Product Led Growth

By Wes Bush

Product Roadmaps Relaunched

By Lombardo, McCarthy, Ryan, Connors

Those who know me well may laugh at adding this to the list. Whilst I believe that in most product company’s roadmaps are used for evil rather than good (if you want to waste an hour of your life ask me about this), the core principles in this book are sound and should be build into product backlogs as described by Cagan.

*** The principles of product development flow. Second generation lean product development.

By Donald G Reinersten

This is another of those awesome books that I struggled to get through – but it is complete gold! Writing this makes me realise how poor it was for me to not finish it! If you are a new product manager & don’t read anything else, read this.


Whilst it isn’t a book, this article is great write up by McKinsey:


***Good to Great

by Jim Collins

This is just a brilliant book!

The Infinite Game: How Great Businesses Achieve Long-lasting Success

Simon Sinek (actually you should read anything that Simon Sinek writes!)

*** Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By: Simon Sinek 

Work Life (Podcast)

Adam Grant

The Art of the Start 2.0

Guy Kawasaki 

* Zero to One

By Peter Thiel , Blake Masters

The Failure of Risk Management: Why It's Broken and How to Fix It –

By Douglas W. Hubbard.

This is a good book but tough going. I stopped half way through assuming I’d get back to it and never did. Still the first part is worth reading. It changed how I consider risk.  

*** The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

 By Ben Horowitz

* The Startup Owner’s Manual

by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf

***Creativity Inc

By: Ed Catmull

I have read this 3 or 4 times – and I only bought it a few years ago. This book is gold.

* Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

Book by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

by Jake Knapp

*** Don't Make Me Think

by Steve Krug


Goldratt is one of my favourite authors - he changed how I think about strategy.  

***The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

 By Eliyahu M. Goldratt , Jeff Cox

It's Not Luck: Marketing, Production, and the Theory of Constraints

By Eliyahu M. Goldratt


Then there’s Gene Kim’s work that builds on Goldratt & applies it to modern product companies.

 *** The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

By: Gene Kim , Kevin Behr , George Spafford

 *** The Unicorn Project: A Novel About Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data

By: Gene Kim

* Accelerate: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations

By: Nicole Forsgren PhD , Jez Humble , Gene Kim


Whilst all the books in the business section relate to strategy, these two are awesome & I wanted to call them out.

 ***The Mind of the Strategist

by Kenichi Ohmae

This book is brilliant – enough said. It is amongst the very few books that I have a hard copy of & regularly open.

*** Bulletproof Problem Solving: The One Skill That Changes Everything

- By Charles Conn , Robert McLean

Read Ohmae & this book as companion pieces (even if they were written 30 or 40 years apart). The authors explain the art of problem solving to create strategies exceptionally well.

Being a well rounder leader

*** The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen Covey 

*** The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Peter M. Senge

*** How to Win Friends & Influence People

By Dale Carnegie 

*** Getting to Yes

by Roger Fisher & William Ury

A must read for any PM, or any business leader.

Stories for Work: The Essential Guide to Business Storytelling

By: Gabrielle Dolan

Many people underestimate the role that stories play in our lives.

The McKinsey Edge: Success Principles from the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm

By: Shu Hattori

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By: Daniel Kahneman

Ok, I feel like its cheating to write this one. I stopped 1/3 of the way through it hoping to come back. It is awesome, just tough going.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

By: Michael Bungay Stanier

*** Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

By: Douglas Stone , Sheila Heen 

Crossing the Line

By: Gideon Haigh

Interestingly I felt it appropriate to include this book, a detailed analysis of the long path that took Australian cricket to the terrible sandpaper incident in South Africa. This is an insightful look into what builds good & poor cultures in organsations.  

Marquet: Empowerment & Accountability

Marquet changed how I lead. Whether you agree with him on the Leader- Leader model, I believe that every product manager should read this book. I use this model daily with how I interact with empowered teams, whilst maintaining accountability.

*** Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say and What You Don't

By: L. David Marquet

*** Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

By: L. David Marquet

Gladwell’s gold

Malcolm Gladwell is my favourite author. His work has changed how I see the world.

* Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

By: Malcolm Gladwell

This book changed the way I look for talented people when recruiting. It helped me develop a strengths based mentality when I recruit. In summary: most people when meeting someone new start from a position of trust, and wait to be proven wrong.

When we recruit, similarly, most companies start from a neutral place, and ask questions until ‘gotya- you’re not right here’. That just leads to a company with no weaknesses. Instead I try to find strengths – where is your gold. That is my sole focus when intereviewing. Note: I do recognise that someone will need to look for these weaknesses, I just talk about that openly. Normally there are enough people in the interview process looking for these.

* David and Goliath

By: Malcolm Gladwell

* Blink

By: Malcolm Gladwell

*** Outliers: The Story of Success

By: Malcolm Gladwell

* The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

By: Malcolm Gladwell


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

By Robert B. Cialdini

The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible

By: Brian Tracy