Paul Rosania

Hi! I'm Paul. I work at Slack.
You should follow me at @ptr.
I can also be reached at paul@rosania.org.

Reading List for a New PM

January 19, 2016

I occasionally get asked for reading recommendations by new or aspiring PMs. This is a bit like asking for books on art, hoping to become an artist: while it helps to know a few principles, practice will get you much farther. The situations and challenges you face as a PM are so diverse, the right decisions end up being driven much more by instinct and experience than application of principle.

That said, there are two categories of books (and articles) I've found useful:

  • Fundamentals: frameworks and checklists that demystify the basics of product management, and provide reference points when you're stuck.
  • Mind expanders: books that make you think about the world in a different way, expand your perception of what's possible, or connect your thoughts about product development to other disciplines, like Psychology.

Over the years I've collected a list of these, and it's about time that I post it here. There are lots of Product Management reading lists out there. This is not intended to be an exhaustive collection of resources; it's just the bits and pieces that had the most impact on me.

Fundamentals

Mind expanders

  • Zero to One. [entrepreneurship focus with tons of lessons for pm]
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things. [more about leadership than pm, but a great read for a pm]
  • The Innovator's Solution. [the first half is the best; skip the notes]
  • Influence [psychology is powerful]
  • Thinking Fast and Slow [long but good]
  • Some stuff on my future reading list:
    • Design
      • The Design of Everyday Things
      • Designing with the Mind in Mind
      • About Face

Practice

Reading can only get you so far. Mastery requires practice. Find a way to apply these skills: if you're starting out as a PM, pick an area and focus on improvement. If you're trying to make the leap, start a project where you can put some of these skills to work. This isn't just the best way to master Product Management, it's also the way potential employers will evaluate you.