Resources for Learning Product Management

Oct 06 2020

Product management is a notoriously nebulous job. And when it comes to learning resources on this topic, there is a lot of noise. Much of it is marketing fluff, and some is just bad advice.

Here is a curated collection of some of the best resources for learning about product management.

If there are any resources you would like to add, tweet at me anytime.



Principles

In order to improve, we need to ask ourselves: what makes a great PM? These principles serve as the foundations that guide your actions.

 Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager . A 1996 essay by Ben Horowitz.

 The First Principles of Product Management by Brandon Chu. It boils down product management to maximizing impact to the mission given a set of inputs and accomplishing everything through others. 

 Principles for Great Product Managers by Alex Reeve, piecing together 22 principles (across 6 categories) for product managers.

 ESTEEM Method by Lewis C. Lin: E xecution, S uperior communication skills, T actical awareness, E xtraordinary mental toughness, E xceptional team builder, M oonshot vision.



Decision Making

Product managers make lots of decisions, big and small, and often on the fly. These posts provide a solid framework for making robust decisions.

 How to Make Smart Decisions Without Getting Lucky by Farnam Street. A deep dive on decision making with effective mental models.

 Making Good Decisions as a Product Manager by Brandon Chu, on using the right amount of information depending on how important the decision is.

 Decision Quality. Decision Velocity . John Cutler discusses the two most important things in making decisions.

 Deciding to Make a Decision by Ken Norton, on why ambiguity should be avoided in product management.



Processes & Communication

Much of the product manager's job is to work closely and communicate effectively with the cross-functional team.

 User Story Mapping , a book by Jeff Patton, details a visual approach for product teams to come to a shared understanding of what to build and why.

 Sprint by Jake Knapp is a five-day process for testing new ideas, invented at Google. In the short design sprint, learning is the main focus. It allows teams to quickly validate new ideas and identify flaws in their solutions within five days.

 Shape Up , a book by Ryan Singer at Basecamp, which has long been influential in the industry. While the above resources cover the risk of building the wrong thing, Shape Up focuses on the risk of not shipping on time. It advocates an approach where the team caps their bets to six weeks. That is, fixed time sprints with variable scopes.

 Making Engineering Team Communication Clearer, Faster, Better . This article by First Round discusses recommendations by Derek Parham, former Deputy CTO for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and his design review system.



Product Roadmap

A product roadmap is a document that lays out the strategic direction of the product at a high level. It describes the vision and strategy of the product and provides a guide for executing the strategy.

John Cutler has written extensively on this topic , covering the tactics, questions, as well as potential issues.

And here are some real-life examples of product roadmaps from companies that have decided to be transparent about their roadmaps.



Other Useful Content

In addition to the books and websites above, here are a few more high-quality content for learning to become a better product manager.

 Inspired by Marty Cagan profiles of some of the most successful product managers and technology products.

The Reforge blog features long-form articles written by leaders at fast-growing tech companies.

The Product Habits blog and newsletter by Hiten Shah is full of useful tips and examples.

 Andrew Chen at a16z writes long-form essays on startup, growth, and metrics.

 Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz is a good guide to the metrics that measure the success of your product.

 Patrick McKenzie 's (a.k.a. patio11) blog covers starting software companies, sales, and other interesting topics.

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