Book Review: Product Leadership

Product Leadership


Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, Nate Walkingshaw

My Rating

star star star star
"Lots of valuable advice for creating a strong, customer-focused product leadership capability in your organisation."

There's a joke going around the office where I work at the moment. Apparently, I'm a wannabe product person stuck in a software developer's body. 

I'll admit, I am insatiably curious about what it's like to be a PM. I'm not sure, though, if I actually want to be a product manager or I just want to make better strategic decisions by thinking more broadly across disciplines. It's probably both.

Anyway, so when this Product Leadership book was released by some of the biggest names in the product world, I had to grab a copy. I wasn't sure if it was the part of me that likes to think across disciplines or the part of me that wants to be a product manager. But all of me definitely enjoyed the read.

Product Leadership isn't a how-to guide for product managers (or wannabes like me). It's advice and opinions for building the product leadership capability in your organisation. There are lots of great expert insights, just don't expect this book to teach you how to become a product manager. It will help, but that's not what this book is about.

Throughout the book, the authors have a solid theme they keep coming back to. And if you've read my blog or seen any of my talks, you'll know I am always talking about these things too. Basically, there are three core qualities demonstrated by organisations with world class product leadership:

  • Continuous discovery / user research on almost everything
  • Whole team involvement in discovery and innovation
  • Lead by setting a strong, ambitious vision, whilst letting everyone else solve the problem

The authors show what these qualities look like in different scenarios: start-ups, upcoming businesses, and enterprises. The authors also give guidance on how to hire teams, by finding people who also appreciate these qualities, and how to tackle many of the problems associated in each type of organisation.

Overall, I liked how this book has a casual tone, like a discussion, a series of opinions backed up by quotes, interviews, and anecdotes from highly successful product people. But this is also what I didn't like about the book - it lacks detailed examples and case studies. A few of those would have made a big difference.


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