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Product Operations

The Product Ops Canon: 10 Product Operations Books You Should Read

Depending on your organization’s structure, as a product operations manager, you might be responsible for building a team, adapting product capabilities to new markets, creating products users will always love to use, and so much more.

You often play a key role in determining the success or failure of a product. On-the-spot decision making and even risk management are core capabilities you’ll need to acquire on the go. And we’ve got just the right resources for you to polish up on those skills. Promise you haven’t already read most of them!


Let’s be honest: Product ops is still a budding career. So there haven’t been as many dedicated books on the topic as you’d find for other, longer-established roles. While a lot of these titles aren’t speaking to the product ops pro specifically, we think the lessons inside them are especially relevant to this line of work.

Here are some of our favorite product operations books for every need:

1. INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Want to learn from the pros?

This book takes a look at how today’s biggest organizations deploy products that billions of people love. 

Marty Cagan provides useful tips on how to create products people want. It also includes insights from various experts in the field of tech products and some case studies from successful companies such as Adobe, Apple, and Netflix.

You can read “INSPIRED” as a complete course on how to organize and staff a successful product team. The author uses his own personal stories alongside profiles from well-known brands to show you how you can take their learnings and make them work for your business.

Each section takes product professionals through a distinct chapter in the process of product deployment. These include choosing the right people for the team, finding the right product, building a lasting product culture, and more actionable steps you can use on your own products.

Who should read this: The book is a good fit for any product manager or product operations specialist, whether you’re trying to reach product-market fit, working to grow your product, or delivering new products consistently.

2. Conquering Interviews for Business Roles in Tech: Getting Job Offers in Strategy, Operations, Product, Marketing, and More by Daniel Li

A handy read that can get you hired by both Fortune 500 companies and startups, this piece teaches you how to handle the most challenging of interviews. Inspired by interviewing processes at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, Daniel Li gets even the most inexperienced of us ready to nail an interview with the tech company of our dreams.

Reading this will boost your confidence as the material takes you through 24 different types of questions, ranging from business strategy, operations, product, marketing, and more. These are real interview questions you’re likely to get yourself at some point. The positive reviews also prove the efficiency of these questions.

Who should read this: Anyone looking for a new role in the product space [or not].

3. Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore

This book is a classic in both product and marketing literature. Updated to reflect the latest trends and technologies, this third edition addresses today's most pressing issues.

The author describes five core stages of product development: Technology Trigger, Product Development, Market Development, Chasm, and Sustainability. He then goes over how companies should approach each stage differently based on their market position, providing advice on how to:

  • Identify and target niche markets
  • Understand your customers' decision-making process
  • Develop a marketing strategy based on their needs
  • Use distribution channels strategically
  • Negotiate with resellers
  • Create demand through public relations and advertising
  • Measure results
  • And more

Who should read this: Product managers and product ops professionals looking to bring a product to a larger market.

4. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp

“Sprint” promises to help product professionals solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days. Jake Knapp, the Co-Founder of Google Ventures’ design team, has helped companies like Slack, Twitter, and Blue Bottle Coffee generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through his innovative approach to design thinking. In this book, he shares the same techniques that have changed the way businesses across the globe solve their toughest problems.

“Sprint” is built around a simple idea: If you can build a bare-bones prototype for your idea — even just an outline of the features and benefits — you’ll learn enough about what works and what doesn’t. In turn, this will help you reduce risks and save time.

Who should read this: Anyone working in sprints!

5. The Influential Product Manager: How to Lead and Launch Successful Technology Products by Ken Sandy

The book is a classic one that describes the various roles of a product manager and how they can influence the success of a technology product.

In "The Influential Product Manager," Ken Sandy presents a new way of thinking about product management that will help you build products that customers love. This book is for anyone who wants to develop a better understanding of how technology products are built — from the CEO to the sales team and any other team member with influence on the final deliverables in some way.

Who should read this: Anyone who wants to start a career in the product space or is considering switching to tech products.

6. Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value by Melissa Perri

The Build Trap is a phenomenon where product managers get caught up in their day-to-day work and lose sight of the bigger picture. This can happen when you’re focused on building features, rather than delivering real value to customers.

Melissa Perri’s book explored the phenomenon as well as hands-on tips for preventing it, including:

  • Why companies are highly likely to deliver features as opposed to highlighting the values of those features 
  • How to build your own product organization and scale it
  • How you can connect a product strategy to your company’s vision
  • How to spot and work towards the right opportunities for creating value using an iterative product framework
  • How to create a culture focused on positive outcomes over outputs

Who should read this: Anyone who wants to start a career in the product space or is considering switching to tech products.

7. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen

This book presents a new model for defining success for product managers, one that focuses on how products are used by customers as opposed to what they contain. The key is building minimum viable products — ones that are just good enough to sell or test with customers — and then getting feedback from those buyers as fast as possible.

In “The Lean Product Playbook”, Dan Olsen shares his own experience, showing us how to innovate using these minimum viable products (MVPs) and rapid customer feedback. The ultimate goal of the book? Helping you build better products faster.

Who should read this: Anyone who has adopted the Lean method or wants to build better products using this method.

8. Product Operations by Melissa Perri and Denise Tilles

“Product Operations” is an upcoming must-read guide product leaders will find handy since there’s few books out there that strictly target their specific challenges. The book promises to show readers how to establish winning product strategies through the right metrics, structures, and processes.

This book also introduces the three core tenets of product operations:

  1. How to collect internal data and use it to influence your product strategy [+ how to measure its success]
  2. How to apply new infrastructure to make use of customer and market feedback
  3. How to create and grow product practices and cadences that move the needle

Who should read this: Every single product ops professional.

9. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

How to use the right words to talk about your product. That’s exactly what this book will teach you.

Miller has a unique perspective on storytelling because he had struggled for years to find his own voice as an author before finding success. He created a process for helping businesses with branding, marketing, and sales that is based on how he wrote his own books.

The StoryBrand Framework is designed to help you clarify your message so that customers will listen. It’s the result of more than twenty years of helping businesses around the world tell their stories in ways that resonate with their target audiences and create lasting connections with their customers.

Who should read this: Product professionals working on or contributing to branding and messaging efforts.

10. Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

While there are many books on decision-making, few have the perspective and experience of Annie Duke. She is a professional poker player with over $4 million in winnings, but she has also been a professional gambler for over twenty years. 

Duke believes that most people misunderstand how to make decisions when they don't know everything about aa situation or when faced with uncertainty. Instead of trying to figure out what to do, she thinks it's better to think about how you’ll collect information about yourself and your surroundings. Then you can make bets about what actions will produce the best outcomes.

The book lays out her own methodology for making better decisions when you don't have all the facts. It's based on the fundamental idea that there are two types of decisions: ones where you have perfect information (such as flipping a coin) and ones where you don't (like buying stocks).

Who should read this: Everyone.

Let’s get to reading!

Each of these product operations books takes you through a different need you’ll have at some point in your career — from landing a dream job to building a product everyone will happily use.

With this list, we’ve selected strictly the books that will save you time and teach you the hard and soft skills you need to excel. Use these resources to make sure your product ops processes will help you and your organization stand out.

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