I saw a post on LinkedIn about a new Product Leadership book coming out this summer, and it also referenced an article from the Mind the Product site about six essential books to read for Product Managers. And that got me to thinking … what books would I recommend? Not just about Product Management, but about Leadership in general?
Many have shaped my thinking over the years, but the top 5 most recent ones that come to mind. Enjoy.
Start with Why – Simon Sinek
I spoke about this book in my post Operating from the Inside Out, and to summarize the essence of what Simon Sinek describes is as follows (picture concentric circles):
* The outer most band is the WHAT –nearly 100% of people will know what their organization does. It equates to the portion of our brain that processes rational thought
* The center bad is the HOW– some within the organization will know the how – the proprietary processes and/or technology that lead to a differentiated value proposition
* The center band is the WHY – not to make a profit, which he argues is a result, but rather the purpose, the cause … why does your organization exist? This equates to the part of the brain that processes emotions like trust & loyalty.
I am in the middle of this one now, and as a teaser consider these thought provoking statements from the book …
* How can a major business segment be invaded and conquered in a matter of months by an upstart with non of the resources traditionally deemed essential for survival, let alone market dominance? And why is it happening in one industry after another?
* Strategy has moved from controlling unique internal resources and erecting competitive barriers to orchestrating external resources and engaging vibrant communities. And innovation is no longer the province of in-house experts and research and development labs, but is produced through crowdsourcing and the contribution of ideas by independent participants in the platform
* Consequently, platform expertise has now become an essential attribute for business leadership.
You can also check out this post for additional insights into the conversation – Inflection Point – Addressing the Digital Economy
Managing Product Management – Stephen Haines
I covered this book in my post End of Year Reviews, Self-Awareness & Competencies, and again to summarize:
“To establish an effective Product Management Organization … it must, at a minimum, encompass building blocks …
1. A competency model to assess and evaluate the knowledge, skills and experience of your Product Management staff based upon a reliable reference model
2. A method to assess and evaluate gaps between competency measurements and desired performance levels”
A bit later in the same chapter, the author comments on the same conclusion I reached many years ago … in order to build core capabilities for Product Management within an organization, you need a competency model. And the model must help to promote those activities and actions that make positive contributions to the business.
Blindspots, self-awareness, ego/pride, humility, servant leadership, integrity, courage. These were all topics of discussion from the book with respect to the derailment of such leaders as Robert Nardelli from Home Depot, Carly Fiorina from HP, Durk Jager from P&G, Steven Heyer from Starwood, Frank Raines from Fannie Mae, Dick Fuld from Lehman Brothers.
Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton Christenson
Next on the reading list!
Despite the depressingly cyclical nature of products being common knowledge and in plain sight, it’s shocking how many companies refuse to see it and leave themselves ripe for disruption …The only path then, to build a lasting tech company, lies in successfully making the jump from one S-curve to another … the middle of the innovation curve lures companies into thinking their mission is to protect their existing audience and market share — the most fatal mistake of all.