“If software is eating the world, then product managers are setting the menu.” Des Traynor
Product management is relatively new field and universities still lack accredited product management programs. I suppose you learn to be a product manager while being a product manager just like you learn to be a CEO while being a CEO.
Recently, there have been courses like General Assembly’s 10-week Product Management and UC Berkeley’s five-day Product Management aimed at people who want to move into product management. While these are good they do cost a fair bit and would be good if your company is sponsoring your course.
But there are plenty of valuable resources available which I suggest you go through before taking any such course (if you do decide take one). I have listed a few below and broken down into Books and Blogs with the focus on Management and Design (product managers need to have a technical background or strong understanding of the platforms they work on).
1. Inspired | How to create products that customers love (Management)
Marty Cagan’s book is a must read for any product manager/startup-founder.
2. The Hard Things about Hard Things (Management)
Ben Harrowtiz shares his experience while working at Netscape and then focuses on “The Struggle” you face while building and running a business.
3. Lean Startup (Management)
If you are sick of the word “lean” Eric Ries is the man to blame! Excellent read.
The cycle: build (HFP/MVP), measure, learn.
4. Decoded (Marketing)
Jay-Z Phil Barden explains the science behind why we buy what we buy. A perfect mixture of deep ideas from visual and decision neuroscience and clear pictures of why those ideas matter for marketing.
5. The Design of Everyday Things (Design)
“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.”
Visibility, a good conceptual model, good mappings, and feedback.
6. Thinking with Type (Design)
“Typography is what language looks like” Ellen Lupton’s excellent book for students, designers writers and editors.
8. Hooked (Design)
Nir Eyal lays out the “Hook Model”, a framework of the 4 key stages to build habit-forming products. Trigger > Action > Variable Reward > Investment.
9. Creativity Inc. (Management)
Part autobiography, part history of Pixar, part business book. Examples of creative disagreements and problem-solving techniques from inside one of the great movie production companies.
1. Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager (Management)
Ben Horowitz’s excellent description of Good and Bad Product Managers.
“Good product managers focus the team on revenue and customers…Bad product managers define good products that can’t be executed or let engineering build whatever they want.”
2. Mind the Product (Management)
Read the posts as well as attend the events, you will meet and network with some fantastic product managers.
3. Google Ventures Library (Management, Marketing, Design)
Covers all aspect of startup life from Product Management to Design to Marketing.
4. A16Z Podcast | Anderson Horowitz
Needless to say one of the best tech podcast other there.
5. Paul Graham’s Essays (Management)
No startup resource would be complete without PG’s thoughts.
6. Five-Day Product Design Sprint (Design)
Jake Knapp (Design Partner at Google Ventures) shows us how they run product design sprints.
7. Read Julie Zhuo’s and Irene Au’s Medium posts (Design)
Julie is the Product Design Director at Facebook. Irene is the former head of design at Google, Yahoo, Udacity. You’ll get great insights just by reading their posts.
8. Design Hack (Design)
If you like design and want to know more, take this excellent online course. You will receive a design lesson in your inbox each week, handcrafted by design pros.
9. Design / UX collection on Medium
10. Watch the following design docs
Helvetica: A documentary directed by Gary Hustwit about the world’s most inescapable typeface
Objectified: Also directed by Gary Hustwit, this documentary is about consumers’ relationship with manufactured objects and the people who design them
Urbanized: A documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features
Design & Thinking: A documentary exploring the idea of design thinking.
11. Speaking of Design thinking Stanford’s d.school offers an online crash course in Design Thinking. Extremely fun and useful!
12. Designers + Geeks
“A community for designers, thinkers, and makers.”
Of course, the beauty of all these resources is that you learn at your own pace and apply in real life. You learn to be a good product manager while being a product manager.