I’m a big believer in keeping knowledge fresh and up to date. Whether that’s a course, event, YouTube video or a good old fashioned book.
Some of the best content that has left lasting impressions on how I approach my work have been from free or near free content. Career wise I’ve found some certifications useful from a CV perspective but less useful from a content perspective.
When I was younger visiting an RAF base one of the pilots told me that they reckoned 10 hours in the simulator was worth one in the cockpit. The same is probably true for most jobs including product management.
You should get to know the basic theory but then once you’ve got it the next step is to build something. Don’t wait too long.
But learn on a low stakes product where mistakes won’t be a career ender.
Getting involved with a product at work, building small side-project app in an area that interests you or going to a hackathon are probably the best places to get some hands on experience.
So here are the courses and places that I’ve found some of my best learnings…
Learn from the community
A global network of product managers, they run free talks all around the world. Often sponsored with few free drinks thrown in. You can hear from product leaders on their areas of speciality. Not every talk is a hit but they are almost all insightful. You’ll also get to network and meet some very interesting people.
Learn first hand
Fancy building a new product in 54 hours? Whether it’s a start-up weekend or a more general hack event, I highly recommend going to at least one.
They are a great place to try out some of the skills you learn from courses with little to lose. If you happen to be a subject matter expert with some insight into a little problem that needs solving, then all the better.
Learn and get certified
Agile Project Manager AgilePM, APMG
Technically not a pure product course. But it is probably the most realistic framework for agile that I’ve seen work for more corporate organisations. It’s a good course to cover base product/project skills and in five days they cover a lot of content. While not the most widely recognised certification I found it to be one of my favourites.
Certified Scrum Product Owner, Scrum Alliance
I really only took this course only for the piece of paper. Recruiters and employers like to see it on a CV. It’s two days and it’s aimed at people in corporates who want to start being a bit agile.
Overall, I didn’t find significant value it’s about £1,000 which I found to be punchy considering the scope. However, if it was the first course you ever took it could be useful. Most of the content is included in the APMG course in one form or another.
Learn from the best
Lean Product Management, Dan Olsen for Google Ventures
I can’t stress how good this video is. Most of what you need to know about the basics of product management can be taken from this Google Ventures video aimed at start-ups.
It’s succinct and to the point. Dan’s book Lean Product Management goes well with the video and for me it’s one of the best videos I’ve seen on the subject.
“Product is Hard” by Marty Cagan at Lean Product Meetup
If Dan has the tools, Marty has the process and people nailed down. Well worth the watch and goes well with his book ‘Inspired’.
Mind The Product Vimeo Channel
Once you’ve covered some of the basics with Dan and Marty, MTP are the next stop. They are awesome and they post all the talks from their conferences around the world online. There’s no other place you’ll get more content.
Learn from success stories
Mixergy, Andrew Warner
Successful entrepreneurs are considered the pioneers of product. Andrew provides an almost endless insight into successful products. His interviews provide an amazing lens into the world of entrepreneurs, start-ups and how they build their products and businesses.
You can get them as a podcast for free and you can pay for the back catalogue of courses which range on all subjects from how to find ideas for product to marketing it. I’ll probably do a separate post on my favourite Mixergy videos.
Learn from online courses
Interaction Design Specialisation, Courersa University of California, San Diego
I took this full course. It’s pretty good and practical. It forces you to go through the motions of building a product including some basic research, design and some handy to know about statistics. It’s worthwhile to understand all the concepts and I found it quite fun.
Become a product manager, Udemy
I’ve not personally taken this course but I have used it to coach junior PMs core skills. It’s currently on sale for £10.99 down from £195 and is taught by two actual PMs rather than academics so is quite practical.
Agile Product Management Specialisation, Coursera – University of Alberta
While I haven’t taken this course, it looks to be very comprehensive. It’s covers a lot more practical and hands on day to day delivery-based content than say Dan Olsen’s conceptual product management models which is why I’ve included it.
While product managers and project managers are very different roles. The reality is that at a minimum you need to understand the working environment. More often than not you’ll find that as a product manager you’re also expected to be involved in many project manager-based tasks. This course looks to cover both off in a balanced manner.
Bonus: Learn strategy
Strategic Management & Innovation, Coursera – Copenhagen Business School
If you’re a little more senior in your current role and don’t have an MBA/business school background this could be an interesting course to take. Copenhagen Business school is a well reputed organisation and this course looks to show that off.
It’s aimed at senior leaders/consultants involved in more strategic projects. However, given the space of innovation I expect that it would be useful context when working with CxOs.
Note: IMHO most careers/gigs in the strategic consulting space look for a big 5 background so I wouldn’t be looking at this course as a precursor to strategic consulting gigs unless you’re currently a CxO.
I’ll try to keep this updated as often as makes sense. Post a comment if you think there are any that I really should have included.