Book Review: “Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love” by Marty Cagan

This is a well organized and thoughtful book on product management and new product development. It was a fairly easy read, although I will say that many of the chapters are very short and while they bring up some important key points, it lacks substance in many areas. Mr. Cagan breaks down the book into what he considers the main parts of product management: People, Process, and Products. He provides an excellent overview of the differences between Product Managers and other disciplines. For example, Product Managers assess product opportunities and define the product to be built in detail. Product Marketers are responsible for telling the world about the product. Project/Program Managers execute to develop the product.
The book is mainly focused on software and services Product Management. Despite this, I still found it useful as a Product Planner/Product Manager for hardware devices (video game consoles). I do like the emphasis Mr. Cagan places on testing products early and often with consumers, with the caveat that testing has to be done in the proper manner. Users and end customers for the most part can’t articulate exactly what their needs are, which is where we as Product Managers must look for the underlying needs, and prioritize the solutions to discover products that are valuable, usable, and feasible. One of my favorite sections of the book was the interview with Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo! exec on the emotional adoption curve, which are emotions overlaid onto the technology adoption curve introduced in Geoffrey Moore’s book, ‘Crossing the Chasm’. Thus, the Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards become the Lover, the Irrational, the Efficient, the Laugher, and the Comfortable. Assigning emotional states for the end customers adoption of technology is an interesting and insightful way to look for strong latent emotions that will lead to new product innovation.
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