Two product books every designer should read
I recently finished Marty Cagan’s books Inspired and Empowered and they are my top book recommendations right now. Both of these books are fantastic and especially the audiobooks. They are full of practical advice from Marty’s experience running the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG) and formerly as a product leader at eBay, Netscape and HP.
The content is relevant to a much wider audience than product managers. I’ve been recommending it to designers who have found it interesting and useful in their work.
The audiobooks are particularly good (if that’s your thing, like me). They are narrated by Marty himself which is great. It feels really authentic when an author narrates the audio version themselves and Marty does a particularly good job narrating!
Inspired — How to Create Tech Products Customers Love
This book is aimed at product managers and covers product practices of successful teams and companies. It covers the process/methods, people/teams and essential skills of successful product managers and product teams. The book emphasises the importance of collaboration between product, design and engineering for building successful teams and delivering business outcomes.
Why I’d recommended it for designers
- It will better help you understand the role of the product manager and how to collaborate effectively as a designer
- Better understand the four key product risks: value risk, usability risk, feasibility risk and viability risk
- Why product discovery is the most important core competency of an organisation
And it may even inspire you to explore product-shaped designer opportunities
Empowered — Ordinary people, extraordinary products
This book is about product teams and how they are a key part of successful product organisations. The first book, Inspired, is aimed at product managers and how to create great products. This book is aimed at product leaders and creating great teams and coaching product managers to success.
Why I’d recommend for designers
- Understand how effectively empowering people and teams leads to better business outcomes
- The section on coaching is really good and will be helpful to designer leaders and designer managers
- Learn how platform and experience team topologies help create a stronger purpose and objective
I’d also recommend Trillion Dollar Coach which is about Bill Campbell’s coaching methods. He was an infamous coach in Silicon Valley that coached execs at Apple, Google Microsoft and other tech giants (Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergei Brin to name a few). Marty references him in Empowered and recommended the book. Worth checking out.
Both these books really resonated with me as a designer and consultant and have helped me have better conversations about product, in particular about product strategy, product discovery and product teams.
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