"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

Through the years of working in Product Management and digital service design I’ve been lucky enough to learn at the feet of many masters, through many excellent books. This list shares the books that stay on my shelf through many Marie Kondo inspired de-cluttering sessions. Note that this is in no particular order.

  • The Design of Everyday Things – Donald A Norman.
    The classic introductory text on usability. You’ll be going around using the word ‘affordance’ like a pro in no time. Note this is called the Psychology of Everyday Things in the US
  • Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just seven days.
    The team from Google Ventures describes how to run a week long sprint to test ideas with real users. Great for everyone building products from new innovation to ongoing tweaks and optimisations.
  • The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
    Ever wondered why you hear the phrase ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP) so much now? This book is why. A masterclass in identifying the fulcrum in a business where you can apply the least effort to make the most impact with your startup, and the processes to apply. A must read.
  • Lean Analytics – Croll & Yoskovitz
    The perfect complement to the Lean Startup book, it teaches you to understand and love the metrics that tell you how your product is doing and which vanity metrics you need to dump as quickly as you can before they drive your business off a cliff. A must read.
  • Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    Good product is as much about psychology as technology, in understanding the ways in which people work and how technology helps (or hinders) them. Getting product done also requires an understanding of how teams work, and what inspires people to get deep into solving a problem for users. This book addresses both of those areas, introducing the concept of ‘flow’ a deep work state where people get things done and also feel more fulfilled.
  • Hooked – Nir Eyal
    Another must read psychology of product book that defines the yin to the yang of flow states. Eyal describes a ‘hook’ cycle that at its core drives repetitive behaviours like the endless scrolling of a news feed. The simple trick? Random rewards for an action, and it’s arguably the reason why when you scroll through Instagram it’s not in date order (remember that?). As product people we all need to understand this powerful technique, and then also apply ethical considerations to treat people as people not just ‘levers that move engagement metrics’.
  • Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love – Marty Cagan
    Although a lot of this book can be read at Marty’s excellent SVPG site, if you’re a fan of dead trees (or Kindle power usage) this is a solid introduction to all his insights into product management, from process to teams.
  • Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky
    Although in places a bit dated, the core descriptions of how groups come together to interact and create change is still relevant.
  • 101 Things I Learnt at Architecture School – Matthew Frederick
    Other subject areas and disciplines are often great sources of inspiration, both for product creation and process. Architecture has always been an interest of mine, and this book has some great little nuggets to help you think differently.
  • Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon
    An easily digestible book full of great tips on the creative process.
  • It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be – Paul Arden
    Focussed somewhat on the field of advertising, this is a great book to dip into and feel more inspired about taking ownership and creating new ideas.