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Product Management in Practice: A Real-World Guide to the Key Connective Role of the 21st Century

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Product management has become a critical connective role for modern organizations, from small technology startups to global corporate enterprises. And yet the day-to-day work of product management remains largely misunderstood. In theory, product management is about building products that people love. The real-world practice of product management is often about difficult conversations, practical compromises, and hard-won incremental gains.

In this book, author Matt LeMay focuses on the CORE connective skills-- communication, organization, research, execution--that can build a successful product management practice across industries, organizations, teams, and toolsets.

For current and aspiring product managers, this book

186 pages, Paperback

First published November 8, 2017

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Matt Lemay

5 books12 followers

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5 stars
384 (51%)
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275 (36%)
3 stars
74 (9%)
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17 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 80 reviews
Profile Image for kartik narayanan.
735 reviews204 followers
March 26, 2018
Read the full review at my blog

tl;dr – Product Management in Practice has great practical advice for aspiring product managers.

The skill of actually figuring out what you need is probably as important as what you do after you figure it out.

What is the book about?
Product Management in Practice: A Real-World Guide to the Key Connective Role of the 21st Century is written by Matt LeMay, an experienced product leader.

This book has been written, according to Matt LeMay, to talk about the day to day practice of product management with all its ambiguity, contradictions and compromises. This book does not have any fancy framework or tool that will solve world hunger or make you superman; rather it is a look at the work from the trenches.

What does this book cover?
Product Roadmaps Relaunched is a short book with 12 chapters that covers the following topics.

- What is/is not Product Management? Who is/ is not a good Product Manager.
- The CORE connective skills of a Product Management
- The importance of being curious
- Best Practices and why they suck
- Overcommunication > Undercommunication
- Dealing with Senior Stakeholders
- Understanding Data
- Roadmaps / Prioritization
- Working in an Agile fashion
- Good Times, Bad Times
- Every chapter is independent of the other and is followed by a summary.

Read the full review at my blog
Profile Image for Ian Stewart.
53 reviews9 followers
September 16, 2018
This belongs on your shelf next to Managing Humans and Radical Candor. It’s written in a conversational style that focuses on where the theory of getting things done breaks down in real life — and then it tells you how to push through. Highly recommend for anyone managing teams that make things. This book was a 10x confidence booster, corrective, and guide for me.
Profile Image for Greg.
303 reviews52 followers
July 22, 2019
• Pursue clarity over comfort to build your communication skills.
• Seek out opportunities to solve organizational problems on the systemic level rather than the individual level. If the rules aren’t working, change them, don’t break them.
• Don’t let the day-to-day organizational conflicts of your work pull you out of your user’s reality. Remember that what your company cares about and what your users care about are different things, and be a relentless advocate for the latter.
• Remember that there is no work beneath you, and no work above you. Be willing to do whatever it takes to help your team and your organization succeed.
• Even if you don’t self-identify as a “technical” person, avoid saying things like “I’m not a technical person, so I could never understand that!” Trust in your own ability to learn and grow.

• Find ways to align, motivate, and inspire your team that do not require formal organizational authority.
• Don’t let insecurity turn you into the caricature of a bad product manager! Resist the urge to defensively show off your knowledge or skills.

• Don’t be afraid to ask “the obvious.” In fact, the more obvious something seems, the more insistent you should be about making sure everybody is in fact on the same page.
• Ask your teammates about the most valuable and well-run meetings they’ve ever attended, and work with them to set a clear vision for what a “good” meeting should look like in your organization.
• Create and protect space for informal communication in your organization, like team lunches and coffee breaks.
• Ask yourself how a particular best practice might help your team deliver user value, instead of just how it will change the way you work.
• Take the time to truly understand the goals and needs of your organization before rushing to implement any specific practices.

• Avoid the temptation to solve the problems that seem the most familiar to you, as opposed to the problems that are having the most impact on your users.
• Approach best practices as a place to start, not a prescriptive one-size-fits-all solution.
• Organize “demo days” and other opportunities for product teams to share and discuss their work with the organization at large.
• Be just as vigilant about getting to know people outside of your immediate team, and take the time to understand their goals and motivations before you need something from them.
• Reach out to folks in your organization, ask to meet up for coffee (or over Slack, Skype, or whatever other remote collaboration tools you might use if you are not colocated), and say, “I’m curious to learn more about the work that you do.”

• If you can, take your goals for a “test drive” with the senior leaders who are setting the company vision and strategy. See if the goals can serve as a stand-in for their vision, and change your goals if they aren’t giving you the guidance you need.
• Remember that learning, testing, and experimenting is still valuable work, and should be treated as such. Prioritize tasks like creating prototypes and researching implementation approaches alongside the work of actually building your product.
• Make sure that everything on your roadmap is tied back to a “why” so that if that “why” changes, you can adjust the roadmap accordingly.
• Be prepared for short-term prioritization to be much more challenging than creating a long-term roadmap.
• Do everything in your power to make sure that the goals against which you are prioritizing are clear, well understood and actionable.
• Don’t make assumptions about how your organization uses roadmaps. Ask lots of questions, and create a clear and well-documented understanding of how roadmaps are to be used within your organization.

Key Concepts/Templates:
Disagree and Commit
• Encourage people to share dissenting and complicating information that might prove critical in deciding upon a path forward.
• Avoid consensus-driven compromise solutions that placate meeting participants but fail to meet underlying goals.
• Force a clear decision, and create shared accountability around that decision.
• Allow participants to pick their battles by committing quickly to low-stakes decisions that are often prone to disagreement (i.e., “What’s for lunch?”)

How to do it:
Introduce disagree and commit before you use it
Interpret silence as disagreement
Ask for affirmative commitment
Set clear goals, test, and learn

Org-level Problem Statement
My organization is facing the following challenge:

This challenge is affecting our ability to deliver value to our users in these ways:

I believe that this challenge is caused by the following current beliefs and practices:

Emergency Requests Template
What is the issue?

Who reported this issue?

How many users is it affecting?

Is there revenue directly tied to this issue?

If so, how much?

What would happen if this issue were not addressed in the next two weeks?

What would happen if this issue were not addressed in the next six months?

Who is the contact person for further discussing/resolving this issue?

Making Data-Driven Decisions
The decision I’m trying to make or problem I’m trying to solve:

The data I’m using to make this decision:

Why I believe that this data will help me make this decision:

What I believe the data is telling me:

What assumptions are present in my interpretation of this data:

How we might test those assumptions:

The next steps I intend to take:
Profile Image for Lehel.
238 reviews5 followers
October 19, 2019
One of those rare books which changes professional paradigms. Clear, practical, memorable and easily applicable.
Profile Image for Andrew Balyk.
105 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2022

Це фантастична книга. Я, напевно, буду рекомендувати її багато багато разів.

Вона надзвичайно практична і головне, проникає в саме серце ​​цієї нечіткої галузі, яка називається “product management”. Ця книга не про те як «перемогати»; вона про те, щоб відкласти наше его, визнати реальність і досягти більших речей, ніж будь-хто може зробити сам.

У книзі немає “води”, зате є море надзвичайно практичних і простих для розуміння турів по світу управління продуктами. “Чек-ліст” в кінці кожного розділу є тепер моїм основним списком для всього, від планування дорожньої карти до визначення пріоритетів та управління зацікавленими сторонами.

Хотілося б, щоб таких книг було більше. На відміну від більшості бізнес-книг, які є або занадто сухими, або в яких складні концепції з повторенням одного і то ж знову і знову, Метт ЛеМей ділиться своїм досвідом так, ніби він сидить навпроти і розмовляє з вами за чашкою кави.
Profile Image for Peter.
5 reviews2 followers
August 24, 2021
This book has great advice for new and existing product managers. It’s like having a mentor around whenever needed for guidance on approaching common challenges at work.
61 reviews2 followers
January 23, 2019
It is a must read book for whoever wants to understand what a product managers is meant to do. Reading this book was how reading my daily diary of my working activities with all critical points I have to manage. A really illuminating book about a key role in a company. But as stated into the book "No matter how
smart you are, product management demands that you learn how to be wrong.
No matter how charismatic you are, product management demands that you
learn how to back up your words with actions. And no matter how ambitious you
are, product management demands that you learn how to respect and honor your peers. Product management does not give you an airtight job description or a
veneer of formal authority to hide behind. If you want to succeed, you will need
to become a better communicator, a better colleague, and a better person."
Profile Image for Peter Gal.
37 reviews3 followers
December 30, 2021
The best book I've read so far about product.

Some of my favourite quotes / ideas / highlights:
- "Because product management can be a creative and facilitative role, the actual value PMs bring to the table can be very difficult to quantify."
- "Best practices should be implemented only after understanding the specifics of an organisation."
- "Best practices should only be implemented gradually."
- Set goals first, then use practices that help you reach those goals.
- Idea of 3pm coffee breaks (create rituals that help your team bond).
- Idea about always on video screens between 2 offices (idea originally coming from Gawker media, with offices between New York and Hungary).
- With designers: instead of launching straight into criticism of the design (even mild one) ask them to walk you through the thought process that resulted in them arriving at the design.
- The book contains a template for Data driven decisions which I found very useful.
- Truly data driven experiments often involve following your intuition, rather than establishing a feedback loop of some sort to test whether your intuition is correct.
Profile Image for KC.
233 reviews9 followers
November 11, 2019
In this book, Product Management guru Matt LeMay offers his wisdom surrounding the question: "So, what exactly does a product manager do all day, anyhow?"

The acknowledgment of the ambiguity of the role is a welcome relief. He offers the primers to frame the role: (1) You are not the boss (2) You are not actually building the product yourself and (3) You can’t wait around until somebody tells you what to do.

The introductory profiles lampooning the "bad examples" of product managers were both entertaining and surprisingly easily identifiable. The Jargon Jockey, The Steve Jobs Acolyte, The Hero Product Manager, The Product Martyr, and The Nostalgic Engineer all embody attributes that are easy to gravitate towards but must be avoided to be successful.

When the book gets down to the nitty-gritty, I found the discussion about Product Roadmaps to be most valuable. This quote in particular: "As a product manager, your job is not to covet and defend the roadmap; rather, it is to open the roadmap to a shared, company-wide discussion about what you are building, who you are building it for, and why. As a rule, the product roadmap should be something that encourages collaboration and focuses that collaboration around high-level goals."

Getting people on the same page, talking to each other, and discussing points that are actually relevant to the product itself seems to be the key function of product managers, in addition to taking responsibility for product outcomes.
Profile Image for Cristina.
25 reviews
January 4, 2023
Exceptional book that offers a solid foundation to both new and established product managers.
How it helped me:
Made me let go of my perfectionist approach, which more often than not results to be counterproductive for the development of the product. It made me aware of my own tendencies to act as a "Product Martyr" and realising how unsustainable it is.
Served as a reminder that over-the-top BRDs or PRDs are not going to bring as much value to end users like making sure that any Product Specs documents, together with any resulting PBIs - are linked to the actual Product Goal, which (hopefully) is aligned with the end business goal(s).
Redefined the roadmap as a strategic communication document rather than a promise to the executive team (which often feels like it), nor a hard-laid-out plan to be cited, usually without much accountability, by the sales team. Liked the idea of doing a retrospective on the roadmap itself as a learning opportunity and am keen to test it out in practice.
You will find a lot of questions that will make you reflect, and be hooked on the real-life scenarios that make you laugh in agreement ("Heh! That definitely happened at my last project", etc.), plus there is always a great checklist at the end of each chapter to consolidate the findings.
I Wholeheartedly Recommend It.
Profile Image for Matthew Kern.
381 reviews21 followers
September 17, 2020
Lemay did a great job of speaking the truth about the day-to-day effort of product management. He offers great insights into the new career and I enjoyed the organization of the material.

One part that I really liked was his presentation of CORE skills of product management. He offers these guiding principles for each one
* Communication - “clarity over comfort.”
* Organization - “change the rules, don’t break the rules.”
* Research - “live in your user’s reality.”
* Execution - “no work beneath, no work above.”

This is great advice.

His voice is down-to-earth and speaking to those that are in the trenches or work with those that are. I like how Lemay dispels the common assumptions about product management and brings the reader back to what it is really about.

This quote hit home:
"In theory, product management is about triangulating business goals with user needs. In practice, product management often means pushing relentlessly to get any kind of clarity about what business “goals” really are. In theory, product management is a masterfully played game of chess. In practice, product management often feels like a hundred simultaneous games of checkers."

All in all, a great book for a product manger's library. Will come back to it again at some point.
Profile Image for Claire Lee.
201 reviews18 followers
January 30, 2023
Very valuable book that focuses on the soft skills of product management. A few lessons that'll stick with me:
- Hard skills are important to understand contextually, from the folks you'll be working with, as compared to a formal workshop/class
- Provide options, not arguments
- Don't conflate product failure with personal failure
- Couching requests in niceness can lead to miscommunication and lack of clarity
- When getting feedback, getting somebody to quickly check the box is not the goal. You want their active agreement and commitment, or thoughtful reasons as to why they disagree. The focus of "disagree and commit" is equally on disagreement as well as the ultimate commitment
- Even when a user says they want exactly what you're building - ask them why -- it's possible their reasons differ from your reasons, and there's something to be learned
- Best practices are "useful fictions", but ultimately not meant to be followed by the book. Adapt what you learn to the specific needs and situations of your team
- Share messy first drafts ASAP to get early alignment - don't wait until things are polished

I especially liked the examples of what your stakeholders might say, different ways to react, and the outcomes - very realistic!
1 review
July 22, 2022
Tam, kde Inspired od Martyho Cagana povznáša, tak táto príručka vracia späť na zem a zároveň umožňuje človeku si oddýchnuť hlavne od (nárokov na) samého seba, keď sa bavíme o každodennosti výkonu produktového managementu. Ono je to neustále a už pomaly všadeprítomné parafrázovanie a inšpirovanie Inspired trochu otravné a samo seba karikujúce (tým nijak neznižujem, že to je najlepšia knižka). V ten moment sa táto "down-to-earth" príručka, ktorá navádza človeka v denných situáciách, číta veľmi príjemne. Jak píše autor, doporučil by som túto knižku každému začínajúcemu produkťákovi, pretože si myslím, že dokáže dôležito poslúžiť, a nepísal som to ako náhodný výstrel, ako protiváha k Inspired, ktorý je schopný vyvolať nereálne predstavy a očakávania od výkonu danej role. Prečítať ale treba oboje ! :)

Taktiež vhodná knižka pre niekoho, kto si chce počítať o komunikačnom a "connecting" aspekte PM a menej o tom technickom alebo biznisovom.
Profile Image for Colby Tibbet.
6 reviews
July 26, 2020
I recently moved from years of working in a startup space and needed some guidance into the wild world of software enterprise. I've read several books leading up to the position that talks about methodologies, terms, etc. But this book is really a "real-world" guide, which is what I needed. Scenarios that are more about human interactions than "what would an agile-minded product person" and where most of the problem lie in communication and understanding.

I think the cover may offput some people who work in software (not as hip "modern" look) but O’Reilly generally outputs wonderful technical books (I own at least a dozen
python/data science books from them) and its awesome to see it expanded into "softskills" areas.

If you want a product book that is written by a human and not what "model product person" should be, highly recommended.
1 review
December 6, 2018
The best book for starting product managers

I’ve been in the product manager role for a year, I’ve read dozens of articles and several books, I’ve been in charge of old and new products, and this book has been like a gift from the gods to me. There were several situations where what I was reading just happened to me or was about to happen and I was able to apply what I learned with great success.
I think this is one of those few books that I want to read several times, I cannot stress enough how reading it helped me as a starting product manager in ways that no other article or book could.
Profile Image for Ayush Jain.
60 reviews1 follower
August 15, 2019
I recently completed this book and I have to say, this is one of those books that you would want to revisit at various stages of your Product Management career. You can buy it from Amazon here.

The learnings present in this book are timeless and would be applicable differently to product companies at various different stages but principles more or less remain relevant and highly applicable.

I highly recommend reading this book but just so you get a glimpse of what to expect, here is a summary of the book.

You can read the full summary here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/produc...
Profile Image for Balaji Ramamurthy.
31 reviews3 followers
February 15, 2023
This is probably the only Product Management book needed for PMs at all levels. Very grounded in reality, pragmatism and common sense unlike some other really patronizing influencer style content out there that neither inspire nor empower when the rubber hits the road. Still ended up being a great read for me even at this stage of my career as I try to rewind and retrospect based on Matt's storytelling on the mysticism that surrounds real Product Management. Highly recommend this as the first book any new PM should pick up on the subject. And as I said, also for seasoned PMs to read and think about.
215 reviews16 followers
June 28, 2020
An excellent book. It provides the fundamentals of product management without prescribing a lot of methods but instead a lot of guidelines or first principles. As of such it seems to be always timely and prevents going into whatever's in vogue like scrum or kanban.
The author has lots of experience and distills all of this very clearly into guidelines and principles. There's plenty of excellent war stories as well from other product managers.
Really recommend this book for product managers or even people who work with product managers.
Profile Image for Benjamin Gaines.
Author 2 books1 follower
November 15, 2020
Finally, a product management book that is real and practical. As much as we PMs love vision and idealism, sometimes we need people who've been there to tell us how things actually work in organizations and roles and products that are not perfect. Matt LeMay is that author. This book resonated with me more than anything else I've read on the discipline of product management because I could see my frustrations and struggles and failures in it, and it taught me how I might be better without needing to change my entire world to bring about the change he teaches.
Profile Image for Hoang Ngo.
1 review
September 29, 2021
Matt LeMay is consiltant, couch and former product manager. He has irreverence and humor style, so if you don't manage product, you will enjoy this book.

A product manager’s responsibility is to do anything and everything necessary to make the product succeed.

Product managers need four “CORE” skills: “communication, organization, research and execution.”

Product managers don’t need to know “data science” or programming, but they must talk with experts who do know in order to learn and build alliances and trust.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
4 reviews
May 18, 2020
*I am a Product Manager*

This book really tackles some very important aspects of actually being a Product Manager that I could have used since day 1.

For me, this book is a gap from the 'Theoretical' Product Manager to the 'Working' Product Manager.

Also, it covers some pitfalls very very well, It's like she was walking in my shoes for the first 2 years of me being an amateur Product Manager.

Super informative, effective, and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Tauri Laane.
350 reviews81 followers
July 29, 2022
This book deserves a high rating, just like it has. While the rest of "Product Manager" books talk about the ways, this one strongly puts the emphasis on communication above everything. And curiosity. Soft skills way over hard skills. So this is a superb book for a person considering the role of Product Manager, it is a very nice introduction to teamwork in a bigger picture. And it is full of real life stories about many different aspects. Strongly recommend it - read it! :)
Profile Image for Paweł Bogdan.
41 reviews12 followers
September 26, 2022
Pozycja obowiązkowa dla osób rozpoczynających przygodę z zarządzaniem produktem. Sam też sporo wyciągnąłem z tej książki. Ogromny plus za to, że treść bazuje na realnych przykładach i problemach, a nie omawianiu modeli i teorii, czego pełno w innych publikacjach.
Bardzo spodobało mi się przesłanie tej książki aby być w swojej pracy uczciwym, a jednocześnie nie przejmować się i po prostu robić swoją robotę.
Profile Image for Ditri Ahmetaj.
2 reviews
August 3, 2018
Great insights on the practical side of the PM role

Some of the insights discussed in this book are questioned by employers in job interviews regarding the PM position.

The author clearly lists various difficulties and real circumstances that happen when working as PM

Highly recommend it to those starting out as a PM
Profile Image for Lance Willett.
167 reviews13 followers
December 27, 2018
As a product manager you are the glue that connects disciplines to solve real customer problems. Build bridges by communicating often, and aim for clarity over comfort. Be open to do whatever it takes to find the right answer.

This practical guide clearly explains the product manager's job and the guiding principles for success in the role.
Profile Image for David.
48 reviews7 followers
January 22, 2019
A great descriptivist guide to the art of product management. Not a ton that’s new here- but some new lenses for looking at the core skills of planning, communication, stakeholder and customer management, and everything else that needs to happen to get value to users. Would particularly recommend this one to new PMs trying to understand the role.
14 reviews1 follower
December 11, 2019
I generally base my rating on how many highlights I make in the book. Even though I'm not a product manager, per se, I found a lot of valuable information in this book. It helped me understand the PM role better and gave me insights into managing the products that I do work on better. I especially found his insights about working with those above you and those below particularly helpful.
19 reviews31 followers
June 16, 2020
Really good. Lots of good detail in this book that I'll be chewing on for quite some time. I give it a 4/5 because it's not my favorite book I've ever read on the subject, but it's REALLY REALLY good for all the PMs out there that want to have a better sense for how to be a PM. It's always a nice refresher to read these types of books.
Profile Image for Sijie.
29 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2021
I have been reading this book on and off for a while picking topics that I am interested in. It is refreshing to reread while reflecting on the challenges I’ve came across as PM since I started. Some of the points definitely drilled into my brain more, such as using OKR, how to talk to users, roadmap and prioritization, etc.
Profile Image for Ramon  de la Cruz.
124 reviews
December 21, 2022
I really learned about what does it’s mean to be a Product Manager and it goes beyond the title itself.

This book is not about techniques or methodologies on how to perform to increase the Yield but to be a better professional in a daily bases.

I totally recommend this book and encourage to the community to follow its advice.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 80 reviews

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