4 out of 4 stars
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Product Takeoff by Navjot Singh and Kamal Manglani is a comprehensive guide to product managers' roles and responsibilities in creating top-quality software products. This book can serve as a resource for someone looking to transition into a product manager role or as a refresher for someone who has been in the field for a while.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. It encourages interaction and application of the concepts instead of the dry reading that often accompanies software books. The story is well-edited and seamlessly combines explanations, case studies, and activities.
The book is full of nuggets of product wisdom like, "Only through proximity to the customer will we discover the right problem to solve." It's simple ideas like this that many product managers can miss when they get bogged down with day-to-day duties. As someone who spent nearly a decade working in software, this book is an excellent introduction to a qualified product manager's responsibilities and how they relate to the rest of the team. Software development and successful products are truly a whole team effort, and this book emphasizes that point throughout.
My favorite part about this book is the varied and relevant case studies the authors use. They explore products that most people with smartphones are intimately familiar with, like Waze, PayPal, and Uber. Understanding how these large companies have found success in seeking out customer feedback to change their products better allows the concepts to hit home in a relatable way.
While I appreciate that this story kept the concepts high-level, it also led to my least favorite aspect of the book: I wish it went more in-depth in some areas. The section about listening to the customer brings up the concept of empathy mapping, which seems intriguing and an excellent way to connect with consumers. But it goes on to say, "we won't discuss empathy maps in depth." I understand the need to keep the book concise and referencable, but it seems that something like an empathy map could hold a lot of value for a product manager and wouldn't take much space to explain.
I would recommend this book to audiences who have a vested interest in products related to software applications. While some of the concepts like listening to your audience and the need for innovation apply to physical products, most of the book is specific to products that arise out of software development. Even so, I think any employee who works towards creating happy customers could pull at least some wisdom from this book.
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