If you are a product manager, product owner, or business analyst, you’ll find this list of books helpful. I know I have.
User Story Mapping: Discover The Whole Story, Build the Right Product
by Jeff Patton and Peter Economy
Not only is this book a great resource for Story Mapping, but it provides a meaningful description of user stories themselves that focuses on why we use them rather than a process focused description. Even if you don’t do story mapping on a regular basis, this is a great book for anyone who wants to understand what user stories were really intended to do.
Fifty Quick Ideas to Improve Your User Stories
by Gojko Adzic, David Evans and Nikola Korac
In conjunction to the why around user stories from Jeff’s book, this book provides 50 great tactical things to remember when working with user stories. There’s a reason Gojko has more than one book on this list, and it’s because he shares things he’s learned from experience and working with teams.
Specification by Example: How Successful Teams Deliver the Right Software
by Gojko Adzic
If you want to get a better understanding of how to use examples to describe your user stories and incorporate them into acceptance testing, this is the book for you. Gojko provides clear explanations about how to use examples, and he shares real stories from several teams on how they actually use it.
The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you
by Rob Fitzpatrick
I included this one in the list because it has some great advice on how to get information from customers in a manner that counteracts the cognitive biases that the next three books in the list talk about. Even though this book focuses on customer interviews, there is a lot of great information in here about interviews in general.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath
There are actually a few books on decision making and human flaws that make it more difficult, but this one is probably the easiest read of all of them. The general gist is that people run into several cognitive biases that get in the way of their decision making. It’s important to be aware of what those biases are and what to do about them.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Daniel won the Nobel prize for economics even though he’s a psychologist. In this book he summarizes a lifetime of research about what influences thought by sharing several different examples. He describes two different systems of thought, cleverly labeled system 1 and system 2 to differentiate the different ways humans think. This is relevant for decision making because it explains the cognitive biases we often run into when trying to make decisions. It probably is the most frequently cited book about cognitive biases.
Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely
This book was my introduction to the field of behavioral economics. This particular book provides some great insights into how we can predict where people will be irrational – and use that to our advantage when we’re trying to make decisions, or make sure decisions get made.
Commitment: Novel About Managing Project Risk
by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts, and Chris Geary
If you want to understand the difference between commitments and options and how to use the idea behind real options (Options have value. Options expire. Never commit early unless you know why.) to determine when to decide, you should read this book. Even better, it’s a graphic novel (i.e. comic book) so it’s probably the easiest read on this list.
Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love
by Marty Cagan
This book focuses on how to get a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible. It provides insightful coverage of the roles and processes necessary to accomplish that goal, and although it is targeted toward product management specifically, it’s still a must read for any product person.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
by Eric Res
This is the book that is probably the most responsible for people in the agile community to realize that they should start paying attention to the business aspect of things. Before the Lean Startup, all you heard about was process, and people and technology to a lesser extent. After the book came out, you can open an agile focused book without pivoting into an MVP. You should read this book to find out what those terms are intended to mean.
Beyond Requirements: Analysis with an Agile Mindset
by Kent J. McDonald
I humbly think that this book provides a useful coverage of the mindset and techniques necessary to practice analysis with an agile mindset. I included examples so you could get an idea of how to do that in a variety of different situations.
Do you think something is missing? Put it in the comments. I’ll read it (if I haven’t already) and see if I find it useful enough to add to the list.
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