7 Top Books for Design Thinkers

Shane Neubauer
Jan 22 · 5 min read

Design Thinking is taking over, as it is gradually accepted into more industries and applied to different problems.

As we’re working on ideas or designing products, it can sometimes be easy to forget that we’re really trying to solve a problem for a human. Design Thinking shifts the focus back to the user and offers a set of practices that can help us get to the root of a problem, or uncover new ways to solve it.

Source: Unsplash.com

Below we’ve collected a few of the best books on Design Thinking for you to learn more. Happy innovating!


Human Centered Design Toolkit

An Open-Source Toolkit To Inspire New Solutions in the Developing World
by IDEO

Why read?

In 2009, IDEO designed and launched the HCD Toolkit, a first-of-its-kind book that laid out how and why human-centred design can impact the social sector.

Over 150,000 copies of this book have been bought or downloaded by designers, entrepreneurs and innovators, just like you.

IDEO is certainly an authority on Design Thinking, and so this book is a natural choice to include in the collection. The toolkit offered in this book puts people back in the focus and pushes us to think about the person instead of the (perceived problem).

192 pages, IDEO 2009

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de) (designkit.org)


The Design Of Business

Why Design Thinking is the next competitive advantage
by Roger Martin

Why read?

The Design of Business takes a very business-oriented perspective to employ Design Thinking practices. It’s an important book to read if you’re a leader or owner of a business.

Roger Martin introduces the idea of a knowledge funnel as the process for businesses to innovate and solve problems.

He also poses that there are two main types of business thinking: analytical thinking, and intuitive thinking. Analytical thinking has gradually become more prevalent because it’s easier to measure. But, intuitive thinking has its place too.

208 Pages, Harvard Business Review Press; Third Edition edition 2009

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de)


The Moment of Clarity

by Christian Madsbjerg & Mikkel B. Rasmussen

Why read?

In The Moment of Clarity, Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen examine the business world’s assumptions about human behaviour and show how these assumptions can lead businesses off track.

But the authors chart a way forward. Using theories and tools from the human sciences — anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and psychology — The Moment of Clarity introduces a practical framework called sensemaking. Sensemaking’s nonlinear problem-solving approach gives executives a better way to understand business challenges involving shifts in human behaviour.

224 pages, Harvard Business Review Press 2014

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de)


Hidden in Plain Sight

How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow’s Customers
by Jan Chipchase & Simon Steinhardt

Why read?

Hidden in Plain Sight takes a closer look at how consumers think and behave.

Not strictly focused on Design Thinking practices, but very much focused on exactly what drives consumers to make the choices they do, and demonstrates how all types of businesses can learn to see what is hidden in plain sight today, to create businesses tomorrow.

Jan Chipchase, named by Fortune as “one of the 50 smartest people in tech,” has travelled the world, studying people of all nations and their habits, paying attention to the ordinary things that we do every day and how they affect our buying decisions.

256 pages, Harper Business 2013

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de)


The Art of Innovation

by Tom Kelley & Jonathan Littman

Why read?

In The Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley, partner at IDEO, takes readers behind the scenes of this wildly imaginative and energized company to reveal the strategies and secrets it uses to turn out hit after hit.

IDEO doesn’t buy into the myth of the lone genius working away in isolation, waiting for great ideas to strike. Kelley believes everyone can be creative, and the goal at his firm is to tap into that wellspring of creativity in order to make innovation a way of life.

320 pages, Currency 2001

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de)


Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation

by Idris Mootee

Why read?

Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation presents a framework for design thinking that is relevant to business management, marketing, and design strategies and also provides a toolkit to apply concepts for immediate use in everyday work.

It explains how design thinking can bring about creative solutions to solve complex business problems. Organized into five sections, this book provides an introduction to the values and applications of design thinking, explains design thinking approaches for eight key challenges that most businesses face, and offers an application framework for these business challenges through exercises, activities, and resources.

224 pages, Wiley 2013

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de)


Change By Design

by Tim Brown

Why read?

Tim Brown is the CEO of IDEO, a widely recognised pioneer of Design Thinking.

In this book, Tim Brown reintroduces design thinking, the collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people’s needs with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy. In short, design thinking converts need into demand. It’s a human-centered approach to problem-solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and creative.

Change by Design is not a book by designers for designers; it is a book for creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization, product, or service to drive new alternatives for business and society.

272 pages, Harper Business 2009

Get this book (amazon.com) (amazon.de)


If you read this far, great work! And, thanks for spending the time with us! You must be very interested in Design Thinking, in which case, here’s a little bonus for you. Check out this powerful and emotional TEDx talk on the power of starting with empathy.

PM Library

Over 200 curated books that everyone who builds products should read

Shane Neubauer

Written by

PM Library

Over 200 curated books that everyone who builds products should read

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