To date, LaunchCode has trained nearly 60 people in product management. We train existing employees transitioning to Agile roles and LaunchCoders for jobs in product management. Our success has been extraordinary. More than 90 percent of our candidates have converted to full-time positions in high-paying opportunities, often with no prior Agile knowledge.
One of the most common questions I get from company partners and students is what books I use to build our curriculum and what books or blogs I would recommend to students. I can’t recommend every book now, so I will focus on my seven favorite product books. If this blog gets 100 likes, I can write another blog for finance, design, engineering, culture, or marketing books.
|Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love - In most situations, this is the first book I recommend for new Product Owners and Scrum Masters. It’s concise and easy to read with real-world examples from Amazon, Google, and other massive tech companies. The author does a great job explaining what works while also subtly challenging conventional wisdom. Do you need product roadmaps?|
|The Goal - Besides Inspired, this is the book I recommend most to students. Whereas Inspired provides a broad overview of product development topics, The Goal focuses on one thing - investing money to remove bottlenecks. That one thing turns out to have enormous benefits for most companies. Once you read this book, you will see value streams everywhere, and that’s a good thing.|
|The Effective Executive - One of the topics we cover a lot in class is prioritization. This book does a fantastic job of explaining why prioritizing is so important. As Peter Druker explains, “Executives are not paid for doing things they like to do. They are paid for getting the right things done.”|
|The Innovator’s Dilemma - Unfortunately, most people don’t do the right things. This book was eye-opening when I read it in grad school because it explains how successful companies die from their success. As the author points out, companies compete to solve customer problems, but employees think it’s their job to improve efficiency. As a result, new companies often enter the market and steal customers leaving established companies with massive supply chains and shrinking margins they can’t divest. Christensen’s answer to this problem was to focus on your customer’s Job to be Done. Why did the customer hire you in the first place? Great products solve their customer’s Job to Be Done better than anyone else and invest in new products and services to maintain that advantage.|
|Sprint - Google Ventures published this book. It explains the rapid-prototyping process the organization used to launch massive companies with real-world examples. Being able to develop new products and get rapid feedback cheaply is vital for Product Owners.|
|Do Things That Don’t Scale - This is actually a blog post from Paul Graham, but it’s so powerful. One of the most common errors I see young product owners make is scaling everything immediately. As Graham explains brilliantly, there is no reason to scale until you know you solve a significant problem. This is worth reading solely to ask the question, are we Big Launching? Never Big Launch. It doesn’t work.|
|The Lean Startup - This is the last book, and I didn’t recommend anything with Agile in the title. That’s not an accident. Pedagogically, I believe students need first to understand customers and markets, then empiricism, and finally, they can learn the details of Agile. Agile without customers first and empiricism second rarely works. This book was revolutionary precisely because it explained how all these pieces work together.|
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