10 Essential Books on Product Discovery
Product Discovery is an essential and critical part of building successful digital products. We have to get a deep understanding of our users to build the right things. Product Discovery helps us to get this understanding by using different techniques, such as interviewing customers, extensive testing, learning from data, and continuously iterating on different ideas. A lot of great books tackle the topic of product discovery from different angles. We’ve listed the ones that helped us the most in our day-to-day work.
In 2018 Marty Cagan published the second edition of his Product Management classic Inspired. It provides you with a deep dive into how the most successful product-driven companies work today, how they staff and structure their organization and how they develop and ship products customers will love. This book is for everyone at every stage and skill-level of Product Management — if you’re starting off with Product then this is your “bible”.
362 pages, 2017
Build Better Products
I’d constantly “borrow” this book from one of my best friends (a UX researcher at Google and one of the smartest people I know), so much so that in the end, I had to buy my own copy. It’s full of tools and methods to run ideation workshops to effort sizing exercises. It comes without the fluff that I’ve found in a lot of other books offering the same. Klein is straight to the point, has a great sense of humour and is an expert in the field.
368 pages, 2016
Change By Design
Tim Brown is the CEO of IDEO, a widely recognised pioneer of Design Thinking. In this book, Tim Brown reintroduces design thinking, the collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people’s needs with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy. In short, design thinking converts need into demand. It’s a human-centered approach to problem-solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and creative. Change by Design is not a book by designers for designers; it is a book for creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization, product, or service to drive new alternatives for business and society.
272 pages, 2009
From three partners at Google Ventures, a unique five-day process for solving tough problems, proven at more than a hundred companies. Entrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: What’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your idea look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution? A practical guide to answering critical business questions, Sprint is a book for teams of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to nonprofits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.
288 pages, 2016
Escaping the Build Trap
Melissa Perri’s first book has the potential to become a real classic. In Escaping the Build Trap she focuses on the most common pitfalls Product Managers and companies fall into when releasing feature by feature instead of focusing on the customer’s needs. In this book, Melissa — CEO of Product Labs and founder of the Product Institute — helps you to identify whether you are caught in the “build trap” and more importantly, gives you practical advice how to escape it. She brings together her year-long experience of building products and deep knowledge of how product-lead organisations work.
200 pages, 2018
The Lean Startup
Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup turned into a classic and must-read book when it comes to changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute. Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs — in companies of all sizes — a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
338 pages, 2011
What Customers Want
In a book that challenges everything you have learned about being customer-driven, internationally acclaimed innovation leader Anthony Ulwick reveals the secret weapon behind some of the most successful companies of recent years. Known as “outcome-driven” innovation, this revolutionary approach to new product and service creation transforms innovation from a nebulous art into a rigorous science from which randomness and uncertainty are eliminated.
256 pages, 2005
The Four Steps to the Epiphany
The book offers the practical and proven four-step Customer Development process and offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture. Rather than blindly execute a plan, The Four Steps helps uncover flaws in product and business plans and correct them before they become costly. Rapid iteration, customer feedback, testing your assumptions are all explained in this book.
384 pages, 2013
The Lean Product Playbook
The Lean Product Playbook is a practical guide to building products that customers love. Whether you work at a startup or a large, established company, we all know that building great products is hard. Most new products fail. This book helps improve your chances of building successful products through clear, step-by-step guidance and advice.
336 pages, 2015
Jobs to Be Done
Successful innovation doesn’t begin with a brainstorming session — it starts with the customer. So in an age of unlimited data, why do more than 50% of new products fail to meet expectations? The truth is that we need to stop asking customers what they want, and start examining what they need.
First popularized by Clayton Christensen, the Jobs to be Done theory argues that people purchase products and services to solve a specific problem. They’re not buying ice cream, for example, but celebration, bonding, and indulgence.
224 pages, 2016