20 Classic Product Management Reads That Will Make You a Better Product Manager

Classic product management articles from great minds of product thinkers.

Christopher Chae
· 8 min read
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All of us here at Pixelic are passionate readers. We learn so much by reading and get some of our best ideas from the prolific product thinkers and writers. It helps us to think differently and come up with fresh new perspective.

While we enjoy reading in general, some pieces helped us more than others. Each piece is one of those we put in our pockets and bring it out and read again when in doubt.

What I enjoy about classic reads is that they are timeless; even with newer technologies today these reads still yield great takeaways and learnings. They are also applicable no matter which stage you are in your career. The Head of Product will find these reads valuable as much as a rising junior product associate.

Here are 20 classic pieces that will make you a better product manager. Keep this somewhere in your notes or on your Pocket and revisit from time to time. I promise you, these articles will show you great insights down the road.

We broke down into four categories:

  • Becoming a Product Manager
  • Product Strategy
  • Collaboration
  • User Experience

Becoming a Product Manager

1. What, exactly, is a Product Manager? - Martin Eriksson

What, exactly, is a Product Manager? - Mind the Product
A product manager combines business, technology, and design in order to discover a product that is valuable, feasible, and usable. The product manager is responsible for the product vision, roadmap, definition, and successful launch.

2. Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager - Ben Horowitz

Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager - Andreessen Horowitz
Warning: This document was written 15 years ago and is probably not relevant for today’s product managers. I present it here merely as an example of a useful training document.Good product managers know the market, the product, the product …

3. Behind Every Great Product - Marty Cagan

Behind Every Great Product | Silicon Valley Product Group
When I first decided to start The Silicon Valley Product Group, I had just left eBay and had some very strong opinions about what makes great product teams, and great product cultures...

4. Product Management, Fast and Slow. - Enzo Avigo

Product management, fast and slow | Inside Intercom
Daniel Kahneman’s book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ offers a useful metaphor for how product managers navigate a wide range of different, competing tasks.

5. What It Takes to Become a Product Manager - Julia Austin

What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager
And how to pick between jobs.

6. What Makes for a Good Product Manager? - Andy Johns

What makes for a good Product Manager?
In this piece I dive into what I believe the characteristics are of an exceptional PM

Product Strategy

7. Product Strategy Means Saying No - Des Traynor

Product strategy best practices [with examples]
If you’re building a product, you have to be great at saying No. Not ‘maybe’ or ‘later’. The only word is No. Building a great product isn’t about creating tons of tactically useful features which are tangentially related. It’s about delivering a cohesive product with well defined parameters.

8. 10x, Not 10%. - Ken Norton

Ken Norton: 10x Not 10%
For more than a century, the Eastman Kodak Company dominated the photography market. From Hollywood, to the Apollo project, to family reunions, Kodak was there, recording our lives. Known for innovation, Kodak has been called “the Google of its day.”1 By the middle of the twentieth century, American…

9. On Pricing a Product - First Round Review

Our 6 Must Reads On Pricing a Product
Too often pricing comes at price. That’s why we assembled some of most insightful advice on pricing products from the Review archives, so you’ve got what you need in one place. Dive in!
This isn't a list of other links; it's a collection of thoughts on pricing a product.

10. One door at a time - Jason Fried

One door at a time
Entrepreneurs are told to go big or go home. Stop obsessing over scale, and perfect the basics instead. Last year, I met a first-time entrepreneur who was opening a tea shop. We’ll call him John. A…

11. Dear PMs, It's Time To Rethink Agile at Enterprise Startups - First Round

Dear PMs, It’s Time to Rethink Agile at Enterprise Startups
Flatiron Health’s CMO and SVP Product Strategy Ogi Kavazovic explains how traditional PM practices break down at B2B companies, and what they can do instead.

12. The Alternative to Roadmaps - Marty Cagan

The Alternative to Roadmaps | Silicon Valley Product Group
I have always loved the General George Patton quote: “Don’t tell people what to do; tell them what you need accomplished, and you’ll be amazed at the results.” Unfortunately, typical roadmaps do just what the General warned against – they tell the team what to do. Usually that’s in the form of a pr…


13. How to Work With Software Engineers - Ken Norton

Ken Norton: How to Work With Software Engineers
I’ve worked in technology for twenty years, the past thirteen as a product manager. I’ve gained somewhat of a reputation for being effective at working with software engineers. This skill has earned me a place in history as one of the three greatest product managers of all time.1 (On this exclusive.…

14. How to Work With Engineers - Julie Zhuo

How to Work with Engineers
Once, a long time ago, I was a product manager. Then, I was an engineer. For the past seven years, I’ve been in design. Every single day, I work with people in all of these roles. Every single day…

15. How to Work with Designers - Julie Zhuo

How to Work with Designers
Once, a long time ago, I was a product manager. Then, I was an engineer. For the past seven years, I’ve been in design. Every single day, I work with people in all of these roles. Every single day…

16. Product Success - Marty Cagan

Product Success | Silicon Valley Product Group
Exactly a year ago I was invited to give a keynote at the Craft Conference in Budapest and I discussed the 10 biggest reasons why product teams fail. You can read the narrative article here. As I mainly shined a light on why so many teams are operating so ineffectively, and despite claims to the co…

17. The PM Mind Meld - Ken Norton

Ken Norton: The PM Mind Meld
Do you want to kill a product? Have a CEO and product manager with different ideas for where it’s going. If you’re lucky, the disagreement gets resolved and things get back on track. If not, your company dies a million deaths as the power struggle gets played out in the...

User Experience

18. Systems Thinking: A Product Is More Than the Product - Don Norman

Systems Thinking: A Product Is More Than the Product
In reality a product is all about the experience. It is about discovery, purchase, anticipation, opening the package, the very first usage. It is also about continued usage, learning, the need for assistance, updating, maintenance, supplies, and eventual renewal in the form of disposal or exchang...

19. Don't Make Me Think: 20 Wise Thoughts about Usability from Steve Krug - Tubik Studio

Don’t Make Me Think: 20 Wise Thoughts about Usability from Steve Krug.
Design, as well as many other fields, is built upon the works and discoveries of the great professionals. Everyone who wants to be an expert in their craft often seeks for the guidance to learn how…
This is a well-curated summary of the classic UX book Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug. I suggest to read the book as well.

20. Great Design for Great Digital Products by Jane Austin - James Gadsby Peet

Great Design for Great Digital Products by Jane Austin - Mind the Product
Rather than having a single “genius” designer who drives their own solutions to problems, quality design facilitates the bringing together of different perspectives. For this to work, you need to build a deep, shared understanding, and once you get to this point, you can operate through consent, not…
If you follow through the link, you'll see the video and James' capture of Jane Austin's insights.

If you enjoyed any of these classic pieces on product management, consider subscribing to our blog and newsletter here, as we occasionally curate the best reads we read and live by as well as ones we write ourselves.