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

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  38 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 grea

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published November 1st 2018 by O'Reilly Media
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4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  259 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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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.
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 organizati
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Utsav Ratti
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish that this book had existed when I started out 20 years ago. Nonetheless, it's here now and it's a must-read for any business leader who wants to understand deeply what it takes to become a product-led organization. If this book had a companion website with tools and templates, it would be a complete handbook. My only criticism is with regards to the last section of the book. Those chapters are exceedingly thin and feel almost rushed. My hope is that they are fleshed out more thoroughly in ...more
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
Arthur Rgr
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well condensed guide of the good and bad ways to build product within large organisations. I was already sold on the main argument but MP has some very nice ways to put it. Short and sweat, unlike many other repetitive American business books. One thing over-complicated is her strategy part, too many technical-ish terms used to explain simple things. “Inspired” does a much better job at this. All in all, very nice read.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anybody who works in a product development (product management, product marketing, and software development) role. It’s a quick read that reinforces why we focus on value and outcomes rather than effort and outputs.

The practical advice explaining what a product manager does and how a typical product team is structured give good clarity to those unfamiliar with working closely with product.

The six questions at the end are great too.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good guideline for creating Product Manager roles in your organization. The book also focuses on the importance of the product and gives advice on how to change culture and actions to convert to a Product minded business. Great insight from an industry expert. Don't just ship features without really understanding what your customer needs.
Scott Bartell
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended for all product managers, product engineers, product designers, and CEOs who want to learn a better way to build and deliver product.

Escaping the Build Trap is an important and easy read that, among other things, will teach you how to set up an organization to ruthlessly deliver business value while maintaining minimal cost and a sustainable pace.
Steve Fenton
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most focussed, practical, and useful product management books out there. This points the way to data-driven, experiment-based product development that targets outcomes over output.

If you are trying to install this kind of product thinking, this book will give you excellent ways to describe the concepts to execs and get their buy-in.
Valentin Shvets
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
generally good advice, but this background story with MArquetly is a bit distracting. It's nice to see rules on real world examples but the way the author describes it is a bit black and white: everything is terrible and then everything is greta and works. it's of course not a novel so I don't expect a narrative but I don't think the fictional story helped.
Joshua Goodell
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tactical and helpful

I liked the amount of examples given. There’s a good balance of philosophy and practical advice. As a student of agile and lean, I found this book to be a good guide in putting those principles into practice as a product manager. Not only that, but a good guide for a whole company to be product led and customer centric.
Mike Vosseller
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Learn what a Product Manager does (or is supposed to do)

As an engineer I’ve worked in several different companies and each has had its own idea about what a product manager does and how product development should work. I found reading about how it works at healthy organizations to be enlightening and valuable. I hope to bring these ideas to my current and future companies.
Yaroslav Popov
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best modern book about Product Management. Explains how PM connects business goals and IT. Also provides framework to set up this connection.

Melissa in addition tells a story of fictional company, with very familiar style to what we saw in The Phoenix Project.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some genuinely good ideas, and written in a very accessible way making excellent use of real-world and fictional examples to get the ideas across.

Not entirely sure how to implement any of it at work, right enough, otherwise it'd get five stars.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great reading to understand Product Management

A good outline of the elements of Product Management, breaking down the thought processes and goals.

A great introduction to new Product Managers
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“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
“The point of this team is not to dictate how the members of a team work together to build the product but, instead, to create the criteria for inputs and outputs of the work. For example, they are not creating the product roadmap for the teams. They are creating a system and template for teams to input their goals, themes, progress, and details that can then be shared around the organization. They are not dictating whether a team can talk to users. They are creating systems that help teams figure out which users to target for their experimentation.” 0 likes
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