Product owners wear many hats. They are responsible for ensuring customer success, maximizing business value and supporting agile product teams.
Each of those responsibilities requires its own skill set, which makes continuous learning essential to success as a product owner. When you never stop learning, you open your mind to the best tools to maximize efficiency, the most effective ways to motivate r teams, and the secrets of delighting your clients.
The resources and tools listed below will help you build confidence in your role as a product owner and start you on the path to becoming a lifelong learner.
Learn, Share, Adapt, Repeat
To excel at anything — chess, basketball, surfing, product ownership — you have to keep at it. But remember – the quality of the learning matters just as much as the quantity.
There is a lot of product owner information out there. Our list is designed to help you grow as a product owner. What’s important is that you take your time and let this be a jumping-off point for your journey to becoming a more efficient, empathetic and skilled product owner.
Career Development for Product Owners
These resources cover not only the basics of how to be a product owner but also tips and expert insights that can help you become known for your leadership skills.
These blogs are full of valuable information about how to be a product owner, but the comments are also pure gold. All of the opposing opinions will give you fuel to form your own, and you will definitely learn some new tips and tricks to apply directly to your projects.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- “The Agile Product Owner Responsibilities”
- “The Product Vision Board”
- “Avoiding Common Product Owner Mistakes”
- “Sprint Planning Tips for Product Owners”
“Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love” by Roman Pichler
Pichler’s book goes into even more detail about product owner and product manager roles than his blog. It is a great read, especially for people new to these positions.
“User Stories Applied” by Mike Cohn
Cohn’s decades of experience are evident as he walks you through how to write good user stories and how to start a conversation and communicate well with your team.
A huge name in the leadership education space, Sinek provides timeless insight on leading and inspiring people.
“Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman
This book will help you realize how important empathy is in the workplace and the important role emotional intelligence plays in a leader’s path.
Teamwork and Engagement
“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink
According to the author, the secret to high performance and satisfaction — at work or at home — is the need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things and to do better by ourselves and our world, all things we can apply to our product owner responsibilities.
“The Truth About Employee Engagement” by Patrick Lencioni
This book identifies the factors that make people more engaged and involved at work. The author also explains how applying these approaches to your team can help you engage employees and maximize their potential.
“The Outward Mindset” by The Arbinger Institute
This book can help product owners adopt a mindset focused on others and their needs.
There are a lot of very well-written and informative product management books available. These are a few of my favorites:
“Hooked” by Nir Eyal
Hooked explains the four-step process successful companies use to engage with users and “hook” them with a product.
“Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers” by Geoffrey A. Moore
Although this one is a “classic” book on product development, it includes valuable insights on market segments and the process of launching a product that are just as applicable today.
“Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” by Marty Cagan
This resource highlights the main principles in product development and the steps you need to take to build products that meet users’ needs.
“How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer
Lehrer provides some very interesting insights into the decision-making process that contribute to a better understanding of users and why they choose a particular product over another.
“The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” by Clayton Christensen
Christensen uses his theory of “disruptive innovation” to explain why even great companies often fail. This book is a must-read for anyone who questions the value of innovation in the product life cycle.
“Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited” by Steve Krug
This book will help product owners understand more about user experience and UX practices to ensure a more user-focused perspective when communicating with designers about a product.
Prototyping and UX
There are a lot of tools available to use for prototyping and creating mock-ups. Your selection should be based on how much time you can allocate to this, how detailed you want them to be or what the purpose of their creation is.
This fast, focused, low-fidelity wireframing tool has predefined elements that make it easy to use even if you aren’t a UX pro.
This dynamic prototyping tool offers a full range of web interactions and mobile gestures, including everything from clickable prototypes to fully functional simulations.
In my opinion, this is the best tool for mock-ups and prototyping. It is much more complex than the others listed and it offers a lot of flexibility. It takes a bit more time to get accustomed to using the tool and to discover all of its features, but it is well worth the effort.
Road Mapping and Feature Tracking Tools
Among the best product management tools on the market, the most noteworthy are:
These are all great for road mapping and tracking the progress of features. All are quite visual, structured and easy to use. They help a product owner or product manager prioritize better, plan better and make well-informed decisions regarding the entire product.
If you need something to track the stories, functionalities and progress of the teams, I recommend using Jira and Confluence. They offer an overview of each sprint and give you the option to manage the backlog.
Today’s product owner role is more complex than ever. The acceleration of digital transformation across all industries is driving demand for new products to be delivered fast and functioning.
Whether you are a new product owner or a seasoned pro, investing time in learning and skill building will help you keep pace with your customer, business and team responsibilities and deliver high-quality products that meet the end users’ needs.