Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2021
I struggled with how to review this book.

I didn't actually want to review it but my experience was so different than most of the reviews I read prior to buying it, I felt I should add a bit of color.

My TL;DR review is that this book has been $15 at different times and I bought it when I got a $3 special offer. Based on the reviewer and the $3 price, it's worth an average 3-star review for 3 bucks. (If I had paid full price I would have given it 1 star.)

In reading this book it's clear the author of this book was a very successful product manager who has largely moved on to bigger and better things. He mostly spends time listing possible org structures, roles, techniques. He doesn't get into product manager subjects until half of the book is over. When he does get into it, there's value in a less-than-wikipedia sense. He covers things which are very important (I've been creating and managing products for more than a decade), but he covers them superficially and you'd probably be better off googling a topic than readaing his thoughts about it. This is not an insult- I say probably because he clearly is not PM anymore... there are no real insights here. You are not going to be inspired or rethink anything you've learned from this book.

This brings me to the style. This book is two parts...
1) the table of contents and
2) the contents.

The TOC is valuable and anybody updating the wiki page for product management would benefit from reading this book. It's well organized and covers a lot of ground.

The contents. This book is written in conversational style. It might even come across as notes from a course lecture. Outside of the TOC/outline, there is very little structure to it. The author goes on every tangent and segway you could imagine. Many times in a topic he will spend more than half of his content hedging and contextualizing what he is about to say, and then finally gets back to the topic title. Very frequently I was disappointed by the actual relevance to the chapter for most of the content in the book.

Note- I'm not saying his contextualling and hedging isn't valuable. The author has a tremendous sent of knowledge and experience. He's not particularly great at articulating it or presenting insights. The book reads mostly as somebody who is upselling you on something else that is not on the book. There are very few personal stories, everything is very abstract and opinionated but there is no depth, humor.

I think the thing that is most important to me that was lacking. I'm an accidental product manager and entrepreneur. I have created products and businesses in multiple industries not because I was paid to do so but because I was trying to serve customers and a larger purpose and in order to do this, products were born. If you look at truely great product managers like Steve Jobs ([i used to list other people here, but some of them talk about themselves enough that it's not necessary]). Jobs wasn't just detail- he was- and he wasn't just big picture. He had a unifying vision and a soul. There is no vision or soul to this book.

That is not to say it's not worthwhile, if you know nothing about product management... this is an excellent starting point of things to research more. To the author's credit, he states several times (5-10) that he's not going to cover areas because they are better covered in other books. In a couple of places he provides other names of books. All of his recommendations are worthwhile, but he spends a lot of time saying very little that you couldn't find googling his chapter list.

I think that's my final advice. The chapter list is free, so if you google parts that you know least about, are most interested in, or are most important.... you will probably find a lot more timely information, deeper insight and get a lot more from your time than you will from this book.

I'd like to say that I'm going to eventually come back and do this. At this point I'm not sure I will. For me- outside of the price- what makes an ok vs a great professional book is how soon I act on an idea in the book. If I'm acting on ideas in the first chapter, that is a really great book. If I'm bubbling up a series of ideas that I could act on half way through the book, that's a very good book. This book is so superficial, so impersonal, so lacking in originality... I almost feel like if you read this book and take it to heart you're constraining yourself in ways you will never appreciate.

So this is the basis of my 3 star rating. Lots here, but probably can find more in other places for same or better price.
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