Leadership, product thinking, business perspective. Product owners bridge different areas and play a crucial role in Scrum and the product development lifecycle. Many POs struggle to transfer the vision to their teams and drown between requirements and priorities.
Sadly, the team is lost without solid product ownership, and the product will underperform. So how do you become a terrific PO that knows how to steer his team towards success? It doesn't happen overnight, and you won't learn it at school. I selected the TOP seven books that helped me during my career. They cover different areas and topics because so does the PO. Whether you're a rookie or a seasoned expert, POs must develop their product thinking, tweak their processes, become leaders, understand business, UX, technicalities, and more. As I wrote, it's a complex and challenging part.
Start With Why - Simon Sinek
What drives people in their lives, and what sets thriving companies apart? Start With Why will help you understand how to motivate people to achieve your vision, which is essential for a PO. You're the one who sets things and plans in motion, and you define the outcome. Therefore, making sure that everyone is on the same page is crucial.A product owner must believe in the vision and inspire others to follow along. To define a stable vision and achieve it, a product owner needs to become a great leader and push people to deliver their best performance. Your team must welcome changes and stay on its mission as obstacles arise. Simon Sinek's book will show you tips and ideas on doing that.
Talk like TED - Galio Carmine
Defining a vision is one thing. Communicating it to the team, organization, and stakeholders is another. Talk like TED will show you how to transfer your message and be heard. Being able to communicate directly, clearly, and effectively is a valuable asset for your personal and career life. I would add that communication is an essential skill of every product owner. It's your daily bread, so you better master it.
Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love - Marty Cagan
Focus on outcomes, not outputs. Customers won't use your product because you smashed your backlog and implemented new features. They'll adore it for the value it provides. Inspired is a great book, and we adopted many ideas in our own framework.What are the key takeaways? A superior engineering team is vital but insufficient to build an excellent product. The book will show you how to manage an organization that delivers value to your users and your business. It offers guidance on company culture and organizing stuff. It also outlines 10 issues that teams and companies face and how to overcome them. I am sure you'll recognize some of them. I recommend this book to product managers or owners and everyone in tech & product development.
Agile Excellence for Product Managers - Greg Cohen
We write about Agile and Scrum from time to time. About their pitfalls, benefits, and best practices. Most companies struggle to set up an agile method and culture in their organizations and teams. This book will give you guidance on how to work with Agile and Agile teams to create successful products. You'll learn about Scrum, XP, and other Agile frameworks. It will also help you navigate product management, prioritization, backlogs, road maps, and more.
Product Mastery: From Good To Great Product Ownership - Geoff Watts
This book is the ultimate guide for Product Owners. It'll show you how you can improve your skills and move your Product Ownership to the next level. The book will teach you how to be DRIVEN - D = Decisive, R = Ruthless, I = Informed, V = Versatile, E = Empowering, and N = Negotiable.Were you ever struggling to make a call without the whole picture? This book will teach you how to call the shots even when you have incomplete information, which happens a lot in a fast-paced environment. It also gives tips on strategy, ideas validation, customer feedback, and more.
Lean UX – Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
UX is an integral part of the product development process. A product owner should understand this area and should be able to validate if the UX is great or not. This book comes from Agile development methodologies, mainly Lean. It focuses on experience design (outcome), not the number of tasks/screens.How do you keep the development loop as short as possible? How do you collaborate with your team and customers who give you valuable feedback? Lean is all about short iterations and quick adjustments that come from observations. If that's something you want to try, then this book is a must-read.
Shape up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters - Basecamp
This book is not exactly for Product Owners, but it gives you a different perspective on building products. Basecamp basically implemented its own product development methodology to reach the goal, deliver the value and validate quickly.Even if you're not exactly planning to implement this approach, it gives you perfect ideas on possible improvements and the philosophy behind the development of a product.
Remote: Office Not Required - David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
As the digital world shifted to remote, I thought it would be great to share with you this book. It's a bonus one, it doesn't talk about product ownership or development, but it covers the management of remote teams.How do you keep your team effective? How do you communicate and keep everyone in the loop? I mentioned above that communication is an essential skill of any PO, and remote doesn't make it easier in the long run. How do you adapt to this new paradigm? You need to share your vision, bring everyone up to speed, and motivate them. This book shows you the way.
Even though this article and a majority of the books are written for product managers or product owners, anyone in the product management lifecycle can find new and valuable insights in them. Happy learning!
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