Agile · Book reviews · Communication · Effectiveness · Product management · Reading

The work of hope

I wanted to share briefly about two books I finished recently, one with clear relevance for product development and one where the connection might seem less obvious.

The first book is called The Mom Test (you can find it here on Amazon). This short book offers tremendous insights on how to truly understand the potential value of a product idea while sifting out the fluffy compliments and vague approval that often comes with product demos. The author draws from his own experience as an entrepreneur and product developer and provides useful direction on how to have better customer conversations. If you’re in a role where learning from potential clients would be valuable I encourage you to check out this book.

The second thing I read lately is a book called Hope in the Dark (find it here on Amazon). This is a book about holding on to hope in a world often beset by what the author calls “naïve cynicism” and a despairing conviction that ordinary people cannot possibly make a lasting difference in the face of the weighty problems in the world. To counter this cynical malaise the author offers her experiences working with people and organizations around the world making a difference in their communities and “making the future” through their efforts. I’m a huge fan of hope (a major theme in one of the best graphic novels I’ve read in awhile that you can find here) and find this author’s encouragement a motivating force in both my wider life and my work as a product owner.

Both of these books elevate the importance of good conversations that include deep listening and honest feedback. Both authors hold out the notion that we can solve real problems and make better products (and a better world) as we leave behind our egos and put in the hard work of hope. Both books are quick reads that offer nuanced yet practical paths forward. But neither one offers easy answers because in truth it’s not that simple.

[Image from wordonfire.org]

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