The Book in 3 Sentences
An important retrospective clarification: this is a textbook about Product Management, not a regular old book. There are so many ways one could go about summarizing this treasure chest of knowledge, so please don’t take this review as all encompassing. As with all textbooks, there are many “terminology/framework > definition > how to do it well” examples throughout the book, but for the purpose of this summary I chose not to focus on those streams of knowledge, and instead focused on what I found to be the 3 most generalizable and applicable topics that I believe would benefit any reader.
- It’s a product managers job to make sure that a solution being delivered solves an underlying problem, which can only be done successfully if the idea/solution proves to be (1) valuable - will the customer buy this, or choose to use it? (2) usable - can the user figure out how to use it? (3) feasible - can we build it? (4) viable - does this solution work for our business?
- ‘Product/market fit’ was mentioned 36 times in this book, while ‘product-led growth’ (which is a more recent buzzterm) was not mentioned at all, but they are both used to explain a similar idea: everything depends on strong products. Without strong products, marketing programs require customer acquisition costs that are too high; the sales organization is forced to get “creative,” which drives up cost of sales, lengthens the sales cycle, and puts downward pressure on price; and the customer success organization is forced to take it on the chin every day with frustrated customers
- Most of what Marty speaks about in this book can be umbrella’d under the idea of creating the right product culture; he describes how great companies think, organize, and operate. Here’s a very detailed list of what separates good product teams vs. bad ones:
I take notes on all the books I read, but as I started putting this review together I realized that I had basically highlighted the entire book 😅 The amount of value compressed into this one book is ridiculous.
I am currently reading Antifragile by Nassim Taleb and highlighted his comment: “Practitioners don’t write; they do.” That is exactly how I felt reading Inspired because of Marty’s many years of experience in the tech scene - every bit of advice that he shared in this book was through his reflective experience of do-ing, not observing.
That being said, as someone who is not in a product role at the time of reading this, I did find that I lost my excitement to continue reading at times because of my lack of involvement in my organizations product development. Although I could directly apply a lot of these learnings in my role as a Customer Success Manager (mostly in product discovery), I was still slightly limited based on the scope of my role. I will definitely be coming back to my notes as a sort of manual or refresher when I become a Product Manager.
Who Should Read It❓
For the purpose of this book, by ‘read’, it could just mean “go to the table of contents and go directly to the topic that you want to learn more about”.
- If you are involved in any part of product development at your organization
- As I mentioned above, I will be using many parts of this book as a sort of ‘guide’ as I maneuver through my career in tech & product, so anyone in a leadership product role who feels that they could take a step back and re-frame what they’re currently working on. This means CEOs, CTOs, COOs, CPOs, and most of their reports
- If you are an an entrepreneur or building a company
- If you read ‘Sprint’ and enjoyed it, or it helped you in your career - Marty stated that it is a “must read book for product managers” and that he highly recommends it
How the Book Changed Me 💯
How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.
- I have a deeper understanding of the importance of a company’s product culture
- I have tried to make my product counterparts lives a lot easier by doing as much product discovery work as I can in my role as a CSM
- I listen much better in conversations with various stakeholders
- I have a better eye for catching a lack of consistency in my company’s output and product mission - which has helped me frame how I speak to users/customers
- I’ve learned to limit the weight & validity I put on my opinions - data > opinions
My Top 5 Quotes 🗣
“Life is too short for bad products”
“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”
“It is all about outcome rather than output”
“When a product succeeds, it’s because everyone on the team did what they needed to do. But when a product fails, it’s the product manager’s fault”
“Data is not everything, but data beats opinion” AND “Data will shine a light on what is happening, but it won’t explain why. We need our qualitative techniques to explain the quantitative results”