Product discovery is a crucial part of the product development process. It involves understanding the customer, identifying their needs, and developing a solution that addresses those needs. As a product manager, having a solid understanding of product discovery is essential for creating products that customers love. In this article, we’ll take a look at five books that every product manager should consider reading to improve their product discovery skills.
- Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
In summary, this book is a must read for anyone taking their first steps into Product Management or working alongside software development for the first time. It outlines the skills needed to be a great PM, how to organize teams, and the tried and tested processes to follow. For those with more experience there’s a tonne of great context that explains why the practices used actually work, and why commonly believed alternatives don’t.
This book provides an in-depth look at the product development process, from idea to launch. It covers key concepts such as defining product vision, creating a product roadmap, conducting customer research, and more. The author stresses the importance of truly understanding the customer and their needs, as well as fostering a culture of innovation within an organization.
- The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen
This is one of the best guides to build great products customers love.
In this book, the author presents a step-by-step guide to the Lean Product Development process, which emphasizes fast iteration and continuous learning from customer feedback.
To create a successful product — you need to satisfy all layers of the Product-Market fit pyramid, ensuring you’re clear on who you are targeting the product for, what their needs are, and then creating a compelling offering that satisfies those needs with a compelling value proposition, feature set, and UX. The Lean Product Process sets out a six-step process to achieve this:
- Determine your target customers
- Identify under-served or unmet needs
- Define a compelling value proposition
- Identifying an MVP feature set
- Creating your MVP prototype
- Testing your MVP with customers
The book covers topics such as defining product-market fit, creating minimum viable products, and using data to make informed decisions about product development.
- Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology by Gayle McDowell and Jackie Bavaro
This book is a comprehensive guide to the product management interview process, specifically for technology companies. It covers common interview questions, provides tips on how to prepare, and offers a deep dive into the skills and experience necessary to excel in a product management role.
McDowell and Bavaro begin by defining the product management role, debunking myths, and explaining how it varies by company. Then they talk about what experience you need and how to advance your career, using advice from accomplished PMs at top companies. They also go into the specifics of how recruitment works in big tech, sharing insider information from prestigious companies like Google, Yahoo, and Twitter.
- 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
This book provides a framework for conducting customer interviews that yields valuable insights into their problems, needs, and motivations.
The Mom Test is a set of simple rules for crafting good questions that even your mom can’t lie to you about. The measure of usefulness of an early customer conversation is whether it gives us concrete facts about our customer’s lives and world views. These facts, in turn, allow us to improve our product.
Eventually you do need to mention what you’re building and take people’s money for it. However, the big mistake is almost always to mention your idea too soon rather than too late.
If you just avoid mentioning your idea, you automatically start asking better questions. Doing this is the easiest (and biggest) improvement you can make to your customer conversations.
The Mom Test:
- Talk about their life instead of your idea.
- Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future.
- Talk less and listen more.
The author argues that by focusing on the “mom test” (asking customers about their life before and after using your product), you can gain a better understanding of the real impact your product is having and whether it is worth pursuing as a business idea.
- Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz
Written by three design partners at Google Ventures, this book is a unique five-day process–called the sprint–for solving tough problems using design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.
This book outlines a structured process for solving complex problems and testing new ideas in just five days. The process involves rapidly prototyping and testing solutions, and is designed to be both fast and effective. The authors provide real-world examples and step-by-step instructions to help readers apply the Sprint method to their own projects.
Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
Probably one of the most insightful product discovery books to ever be written.
In this book, Teresa Torres explores how product managers and designers can keep making a positive impact on their customers’ lives. It explores an optimal decision-making process for product teams, so that they can continue to improve their offerings.
These 5 essential books for every Product Manager (plus bonus) offer a wealth of knowledge and practical tips on various aspects of product discovery. Whether you’re a seasoned product manager or just starting out, reading these books will help you better understand the customer, identify their needs, and develop solutions that address those needs. By incorporating the insights and strategies outlined in these books, you can increase your chances of success as a product manager and create great products that customers would love.