PRODUCTHEAD: Tsundoku (piles of books waiting to be read)

PRODUCTHEAD: Tsundoku (piles of books waiting to be read)

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

packt like products in a crushd tin box


Piles of books by experts in disciplines you’ll be working with on your product team

a favour: please share this with other product people

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


If you’re anything like me, you probably have a pile of books sitting on a shelf, patiently waiting to be read. Apparently there is a name for this: tsundoku.

To restore my faith in my ability to read, I like to have a few books on hand that convey wisdom concisely, and which I can read without committing to a long-term relationship.

Here are my current favourite little books of knowledge.

Speak to you soon,

Jock Busuttil

P.S. Special offer this week: there’s 20% off passes to this year’s Product-Led Festival for PRODUCTHEAD subscribers — take a look below.

what to think about this week

Good Services

Good Services by Lou Downe

by Lou Downe

This book is not about ‘great services’, ‘unique services’, ‘thrilling’ or ‘magical’ services. It won’t tell you how to ‘wow’ your users with something they didn’t expect, or build something that the world has never seen before.

This book will tell you how to design a service that your users can find, understand and use without having to ask for help.

Buy Good Services on Amazon


Content Design

Content Design by Sarah Richards

by Sarah Richards

Between 2010 and 2014, Sarah and her team at the Government Digital Service invented the discipline of content design by applying new techniques to their work. In this book, Sarah explains what “content design” really means, and tells you how to put those techniques into your organisation and your web project.

This book is short, lively and practical. Using real-world examples and imagined examples, it takes the reader through the content design process one step at a time, explaining everything along the way.

Buy Content Design on Amazon


Just Enough Research

Just Enough Research by Erika Hall

by Erika Hall

Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. Done well, it will save your team time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.

Erika Hall distills her experience into a guidebook of trusted research methods you can implement right away, no matter what size team you’re on or budget you’re working with. Learn how to discover your competitive advantages, spot your own blind spots and biases, understand and harness your findings, and why you should never, ever hold a focus group. You’ll start doing good research faster than you can plan your next pitch.

Buy Just Enough Research on Amazon


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.

“Jock has been instrumental in my personal growth as a product leader but also as a person.”

Ludovic Lacay

Ludovic Lacay
Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Napo

A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.

Building Successful Communities of Practice

Building Successful Communities of Practice by Emily Webber

by Emily Webber

Communities of practice have many valuable benefits. They include accelerating professional development; breaking down organisational silos; enabling knowledge sharing and management; building better practice; helping to hire and retain staff; and making people happier.

In this book, Emily Webber shares her learning from personal experiences of building successful communities of practice within organisations. And along the way, she gives practical guidance on creating your own.

Buy Building Successful Communities of Practice on Amazon


The agile comms handbook

The agile comms handbook by Giles Turnbull

by Giles Turnbull

Agile comms is a set of techniques to help teams communicate clearly and creatively about work in progress.

It helps you communicate faster and more flexibly, adjusting what you say to changing circumstances.

It helps you use a human tone of voice, and a little creative flair, to get your point across to busy people.

Buy The agile comms handbook


And a quick bonus book from my friend and collaborator here at Product People:

Why You Dread Work

Why You Dread Work by Helen Holmes

by Helen Holmes

Ever felt that lurking sense of Sunday night dread?

It’s not just you.

In this warm and empathetic guide to the modern workplace, Helen Holmes tackles precisely what’s going wrong in your workplace – and how you can improve your working week. Drawing upon expert research and employee interviews, she answers questions such as:

  • Why does that difficult colleague refuse to take ownership of anything?
  • What can I do about the constant data overload of email and meetings?
  • Why am I still not being paid fairly?

Buy Why You Dread Work on Amazon


I’ve included some affiliate links to Amazon this week, which means we receive a small commission on any purchases you make.

recent posts

Replatforming the cash cow

Recently people all seem to be encountering the same problem. Their engineering teams are choosing to work on projects that make them look busy, but which don’t actually move things forward. What they’re usually working on is a convoluted — and arguably doomed — attempt to replatform a legacy ‘cash cow’ product.

A strong signal to discover the replacement product


The unifying principles of product management

A recent tweet by John Cutler provoked some interesting reactions. It got me thinking about whether there are unifying principles of product management that apply in all contexts.

Become one with everything


What to do when service transformation goes wrong

When companies set out to improve a service or redesign a product, the results can sometimes be underwhelming. Instead of delivering service transformation, the team recommends only minor efficiency tweaks. If this has been happening to you, there can be many underlying causes. I’ve identified a few common problems and what you can you do about them.

Change means doing things differently, not just a rebrand


upcoming talks and events

19th-21st October 2021

Product-Led Festival

Product-Led Festival 2021

The Product-Led Festival is returning to the virtual stage on October 19-21. 🎪

3 days. 5 stages. 30+ product giants.💥

Headliners include:

🎙️ Facebook – Director, Product Management

🎙️ Walmart – Principal Product Manager

🎙️ Amazon – Senior Product Manager

🎙️ Comcast Business – Product Owner

🎙️ Cisco Systems – Vice President, Products, Emerging Technologies & Incubation

🎙️ Typeform – Director, Product Management

🎙️ Gainsight – Founder & CTO

…plus many more to come.

PRODUCTHEAD subscribers get 20% off an Access All Areas pass, just use PROD20 at checkout. 💸

Grab a pass 👉

Book me to speak

I’ve spoken at various product management and technology conferences around the world. I share ideas primarily on the topic of product management, and this tends to overlap with agile and ethical product development, digital transformation, and fostering healthy product cultures and communities.

“Day 2 saw an impressive presentation by Jock Busuttil on user testing. He asked the attendees to lend each other a smartphone and take a picture. What a turmoil that caused ;-) ”

Walter Schärer

Walter Schärer
Marketing & Business Development Director, BlueGlass Interactive

If you’d like to book me to speak at your event, please get in touch.

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from diminishing space on bookshelves.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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