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Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  692 ratings  ·  93 reviews

To stay competitive in today’s market, organizations need to adopt a culture of customer-centric practices that focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Companies that live and die by outputs often fall into the "build trap," cranking out features to meet their schedule rather than the customer’s needs.

In this book, Melissa Perri explains how laying the foundation for

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published November 1st 2018 by O'Reilly Media
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Adrian Howard
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A super book. If you’re struggling to become a product-led organisation then this needs to be on your bookshelf. From organisational culture to the product management role Melissa has delivered a great guide to spotting and solving the problems companies have shifting from an output to an outcome focus. I’ve already bought several copies for my clients. If you have 'product' in your job title - get a copy.
Paul Brown
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Product-led company nirvana and how to get there

Apart from the fact that the 6 questions at the back of the book make it worth the read all on their own, the rest of this great book covers what it take to build a true product-led company where anything (everything) is possible. I really enjoyed the flow of the narrative as the book progresses and how Melisa points out so many things which caused me to think ah-ha! If I had one critique I’d ask for more visuals linking key ideas and concepts toge
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A nice read on product management, and most importantly on being outcome focused. the examples in the book are very relatable and can give any product manager or product owner some good ideas on how to make changes in their own environment to get a step closer to becoming outcome oriented, rather than output oriented.
Andrea Hill
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been meaning to read this since it came out, and finally got a chance the past few days.
I've read a lot of product/UX/strategy books, but this is going to become my new book to recommend to people (in fact, I already did this morning!).
Melissa does a great job at sharing a lot of practical advice through a bit of storytelling, making it easy to read and understand. The short chapters break things up so you don't feel overwhelmed with information.
I will say that the parts about 'strategic
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! I currently lead a small Product organization and have created a great list of takeaways from this book. Melissa does a great job of articulating the steps along the journey to become a product-led organization focused on outcomes, not outputs. I also appreciate the format and depth in this book. It was relatively quick to read, easy to understand, and focused on providing just enough content to help the reader grasp the concepts and get energized to mature their Product organization ...more
Barry O'Reilly
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great read. Highly recommend for product leaders at all levels

Melissa has created a highly relatable and actionable book for product leaders at all levels. If you are curious to lead or create a product-centric organization and culture this is the book for you.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-learning
Very clear overview of what it means to be an outcome- (i.e. product) -focused company in the 21st century.
No technical jargon, large focus on the career and responsibilities of a "product manager" and why you might need them in your teams & organization. Spoiler: it's not just about vomiting out requirements. It really isn't just a new job ad. It's moving towards a new organizational culture.

Not just targeted toward young startups, this book provides next steps for every kind of organization.

Bartosz Pranczke
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
The build trap (i.e. adding features instead of solving problems) is probably the most common offence in the IT world. The book is short but it manages to cover a lot of important topics: experimentation, outcome vs output, product management vs project management, incentives, policies and other important factors to become a product-led organisation.

It will help you to put focus on the "why" of the product instead of only on the "what", "when" and "how". Without a valid "why", the other parts s
Claire Lee
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a PM book I’m going to revisit again and again. Melissa puts words to a problem I’ve experienced but haven’t been able to describe, and hearing that this problem isn’t unique is comforting in itself. She then goes into what companies that are product-led look like, and addresses how to handle roadmaps, de-risk launches through experimentation, and other invaluable practices PMs can start vouching for and acting on.
Gustavo Guiomar
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Must read for Product Managers.
Boni Aditya
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely one of the best books that a Product Manager could get their hands upon.

She has captured the concept of building for the sake of building very effectively and the importance of having a framework for the right way to make a product.

The Need to have a product strategy framework and the need to have a product strategy deployment framework before the organization even thinks about building a product is amazing.

The way the author has derived the Product Kata from Toyota Kata is p
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
I really enjoyed this book. It's practical and has a good story. I think my only question for Melissa would be - what was the development team working on while all this research was going on to find the right solution? It sounds like PMs had a lot of time to think and do research, which isn't the case in all organizations - I'm curious about advice for finding time to balance being the Product Owner for the team and doing the heavy-duty research to discover problems.

Overall, loved it. Lots of go
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you want the book on why startups beat incumbents at product management, this is it.
John Peltier
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Best book on Product that I've read yet. Not for you if you're looking for a scrum rituals guide. This is about how to effectively manage products, and manage the function of product management.

In contrast to most of the book, the last section about incentives, culture etc. feels brief and forced whereas the earlier sections are more verbose and in depth. That said, lots of good material for aspiring CPOs.
Mark Mzyk
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Escaping the Build Trap is a great overview of what it means to be a product driven organization. Melissa does a nice job of traversing the organization stack and showing what it takes to have an effective product organization at each level - from the day to day of the individual product manager, to the role of the VP of Product, the rest of the executive team, and even how financing, budgeting, and culture fit in. She shows how it takes each of these working effectively together to lead to an e ...more
Robert Boomert
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Few years ago I visited a workshop from Melissa Perri and I got a ton of inspiration to do better. The face she released a book was an instant buy for me.

The main focus of the book is to get a grip on the whole feature fetish the companies have. A lot of companies want GANTT charts and metrics that are bullshit. This causes a lot of stress for people who want to build and create awesome stuff for customers. The tips and frameworks Melissa Perri provide are awesome. Some images are a bit confusin
Vivify M
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my new favourite Product Management book. It's not very long, but I think its massively valuable for organisations and product people alike.
I don't like using the term product management here though, because that makes it sound too niche, and possibly even trendy. While Product Management is popular at the moment, I think the principles in this book exceed the role, and are super important to tech businesses in general. To be clear, it's not just important because this is the new cool wa
Matthew Kern
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, non-fiction
This was a powerful read. Perri distills the Product Management craft into a concise and thought provoking guide. As a product manager I appreciated her style as it is a combination of principles with practical insights that could be applied in my work.

This book and Marty Cagan's book Inspired are the cream of the product management crop. I made over 75 highlights and notes where I would typically make 10.

Here are the concepts and ideas that were my favorite.

* Product Work Categories - Strateg
Anna Rasmussen
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great book, this is the perfect follow up to The Lean Startup. Escaping the build trap is a brutally honest and useful resource for product managers (or similar) who are struggling to innovate or release great products.

The book comprehensively describes the benefits of implementing a product led mindset and describes how to influence your organisation to see the light.

One concept from the book I found particularly useful was the recurring idea that the standard, and sadly common, framew
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Melissa's book. The information she goes through is great for product people of all levels and really helps push us to be more interested, engaged, and active in the learning aspect of our products and the people who benefit from them. Her stories and examples of how she has worked with product leaders and companies to guide meaningful change are inspirational. The best part about the book, however, is how she leads you through changing your company to become product led. Th ...more
Pankaj Kumar
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A nicely written book on developing a product org. The author touches upon at a very high level the fundamentals of product development, strategy, and org structure that can create a successful product company. Although the book gives a good overview, I found it to be lacking depth in terms of discussing fundamentals, and discusses them at a very high level. For instance, she talks about frameworks that are used to design great products, and has given references to other books, but it would have ...more
Natalía Papadopoúlou
This book talks about how product management can and should transform a whole company to become product oriented instead of just being reactive to what stakeholders think it should be done. This book for me, being a designer, is common sense. Yet common sense is so rare at an organizational level and very few companies (even less design and software development agencies) are product-led. At the core of it’s customer centricity: it only makes sense to produce products people will benefit from. Th ...more
Mike Gunderloy
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A solid read for anyone who aspires to be a product manager, works with product managers and wants to understand what they do, or who wants to drive their organization towards being product-led. In other words, pretty much every developer and developer-adjacent employee I've ever know. Melissa Perri does a great job of explaining why turning into a feature factory is a trap, and how to escape by focusing on real value delivery driven by hypothesis and experiment. The book also helps distinguish ...more
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone currently practicing or wanting to get into product management, this book is a fantastic refresher and starter for what it means to be a product manager. I particularly enjoyed Melissa's 'Product Kata' approach to building products and appreciated her step-by-step walkthrough of how she practically applied it in her previous experiences as a PM herself and more recently as a coach of product teams.

It's a fairly short and easy read that can be finished in less than a week. There are s
Colin McGovern
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first heard Melissa Perri talk about the build trap in a “This is Product Management” podcast and was interested in her work ever since. I was really looking forward to this book therefore.

The start felt like somewhat of a rehash of things I already knew and I was struggling to see a lot of insight. The second half feels a lot more practical, and even though it doesn’t give you a roadmap (no pun intended) for how to apply everything, it will get you asking the right questions.

In some ways, th
Julio Lopes
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Solid book. It does not go too deep on anything but it has the right depth for someone coming as first timer to product management but at the same time for more experienced people.

I especially liked some of the suggestions for bigger organisations. It reminded me of the old adage: Discipline = Freedom. You could be doing everything right but if the information does not trickle up you could get squashed by someone higher up that from the absence of information assumed nothing is happening.

Also th
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For practitioners (and particularly consultants), the best business books effectively articulate 'that nagging feeling that we should be thinking and acting differently,' accessible to anyone working in the domain. Escaping the Build Trap achieves this superlatively.

Written with clarity and plenty of illustrative examples borne out of long, hard-won experience, it explains both the 'How should we work?' and 'Why is that important?' in language that doesn't require a doctorate in Agile to underst
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book on Product Management I have read. I felt like I was highlighting something on every page. It is a great overview of Product Management, mostly free of industry jargon, and a great starting point for anyone interested in what Product does (or should do). But it is also great for more experienced Product Managers, as there is a wealth of information in this small book. The 6 questions in the Appendix are priceless, and the footnotes lead to other sources to explore for further infor ...more
Arun Krishnamoorthy
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
• vehicles of value
• Deliver value repeatedly to customers & users
• Doesn't require the company to build something new every time

• Human labour to deliver value to user
• Can be automated, productised

• Discrete scope of work with deadline, milestone, outputs to be delivered
• After aim reached move to next project
Projects are essential part of product development, but thinking in that mentality will impact it

Product strategies connect the vision and economic outcome
Colin Clark
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Any interested or practicing Product Management should read this book.

My first PM gig was in 1998. We knew nothing, I knew nothing, there was nowhere to learn.

Times have changed.

I all too often see the examples given in real life. It’s painful to watch organizations kick off big planning sessions and watch them fizzle out in the weeks after.

It’s also refreshing to see a book state the Product Owner role is not Product Management and why.

If you start applying the concepts in this book, you will
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64 likes · 16 comments
“When companies do not understand their customers’ or users’ problems well, they cannot possibly define value for them. Instead of doing the work to learn this information about customers, they create a proxy that is easy to measure. “Value” becomes the quantity of features that are delivered, and, as a result, the number of features shipped becomes the primary metric of success.” 1 likes
“The biggest thing I’ve learned in product management is to always focus on the problem. If you anchor yourself with the why, you will be more likely to build the right thing,” 0 likes
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