Our daily lives are full of interactions with products and services. We wake up in the morning and check our WhatsApp. Then, we use Waze or Google Maps to find the fastest ride to our office. And, admit it or not, we procrastinate with Facebook, get informed or misinformed with Twitter, share a beautiful sunset with Instagram, or pin the dress or suit of our dreams in Pinterest. And these are just the digital ones! Every product we use is comprised by witty solutions to really tough problems, many of which were initially hidden.
How are great products built? This is not an easy question to answer. Some of us have been doing it for most of our life and are still learning every day. But there are definitely some amazing books that can open your mind, regardless of whether you are a hands-on product developer that wants to dive deeper, or someone who just wishes to understand why the organizations behind these apparently trivial apps are so hard to create and so highly valuated in the market when things go well.
How are great products built? There are some amazing books that can show you the way.
There are three main stages when building any type of product. First, we need to come up with an idea and make sure it potentially solves a worthy problem. The startup graveyard is full of products that were only useful to the founders and their moms. Then, we need to build the product itself; as we will see, it is not just a matter of coding or 3d-printing or manufacturing. And finally, it would be great if that product actually becomes a business. A growing business indeed.
During the following three articles, you will find some key books that explain critical aspects of the world of building digital and physical products and services as we go from the idea to the business aspects. All of them are engaging reads and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Success = idea + product + business
Product Books – Having an Idea
There are two introductory books you cannot miss. A good overall view can be found in “The Innovation Paradox”, with real world examples of striving and failed business. While each product has its own challenges, there are certain situations that are common to many.
Renowned author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a seminal book on how ideas are born, by interviewing tens of artists, scientists and, well, geniuses around the world in its Creativity.
If you prefer more meaty material, there are two reads you cannot miss. A classic one is Change by Design, by the CEO of the innovation multinational IDEO, Tim Brown. It is a good start to learn how innovative companies find their best ideas by using observation and other Design Thinking techniques.
Another, less known but nonetheless good book is Inside the Box, by marketing expert Drew Boyd and a academic guru in innovation, Jacob Goldenberg. Based on some quite deep theories on creativity, this work is an easy-to-read description of some techniques quite useful for finding great solutions.
Lastly, one cannot talk about creativity and idea generation without mentioning Stanford d.school’s Tina Seelig. Insight Out is one of her books that describe how they work at the famed design and innovation school.
Wow, enough by now, right? These are just five books, but check out our “How to build great products” bookshelf, where you will find many more amazing writings around this topic!
Next part will introduce you to some of our favorite reads about stage two of building products. Are you ready?