15+ Best Design Thinking Books to Read

15+ Best Design Thinking Books to Read

Design thinking is more than just a buzzword in today’s fast-paced world. It’s a way of thinking that revolutionises how we approach problem-solving, innovation, and creativity. And what better way to explore this fascinating subject than by diving into some of the best design thinking books out there?

But hold on, before you go on Amazon and start filling up your cart with books, let me ask you this: have you ever noticed how some books on design thinking are as dry as a piece of toast? It’s like they’re sucking your life out with each page you turn. Well, fear not, my friend, because I’ve got your back. I’ve scoured the depths of the internet to bring you a list of 15+ design thinking books that are informative and enjoyable to read. Yes, you read that right; enjoyable!

So, grab a coffee (or tea, I’m not here to judge), and get ready to discover some of the best design thinking books. From classic titles to modern-day gems, this list has got you covered. Let’s dive in!

1 – The Design Thinking Playbook

The Best Design Thinking Books For Business Growth
SaleBestseller No. 1
The Design Thinking Playbook: Mindful Digital Transformation of Teams, Products, Services, Businesses and Ecosystems (Design Thinking Series)
  • Lewrick, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 05/22/2018 (Publication Date) – Wiley (Publisher)

First off, let’s talk about what design thinking is all about. It’s a mindset that encourages us to approach things differently, with a strong focus on the user and a willingness to iterate quickly and often. Whether looking to (re-)design products, services, processes, business models, or ecosystems, design thinking is an incredibly powerful tool for driving innovation and solving wicked problems.

So, why should you care about the Design Thinking Playbook? Well, it’s packed with practical tools and frameworks that you can use to kick off a digital transformation in your organisation. By stepping back and questioning the current mindset, you’ll be able to identify the status quo’s faults and start making real progress towards a better future.

Moreover, the book is chock-full of real-world examples from various industries, showing how to apply design thinking in practice. You’ll learn about other proven approaches, how to combine them effectively, and how design thinking fits into agile methods within management, innovation, and startups.

Overall, the Design Thinking Playbook is an essential resource for anyone looking to drive change and stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. So if you’re ready to ignite your capabilities and unleash your potential, pick up a copy today and start your journey towards radical innovation and competitive advantage.

2 – Design Thinking at Work

Design Thinking at Work: How Innovative Organizations are Embracing Design
  • Dunne, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages – 10/20/2021 (Publication Date) – Rotman-UTP Publishing (Publisher)

The book results from extensive international research involving multinationals, governments, and non-profits. It’s now available in paperback for the first time, making it accessible to even more people interested in learning about design thinking.

So, what is design thinking all about? It’s a fresh approach to solving problems that many organisations have embraced. It’s a way of thinking focused on the user, encourages experimentation, and is characterised by fast iterations with multidisciplinary teams.

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But as you can imagine, design thinkers often face challenges when working in bureaucratic or hostile cultures. That’s where this book comes in. Through compelling examples and stories from the field, author Thomas Lockwood explains design thinkers’ challenges and how the best organisations deal with them.

For example, you’ll learn how companies like Procter & Gamble and the Australian Tax Office apply design thinking in practice and what lessons can be distilled from their experiences. It’s essential reading for anyone interested in learning how design works in the real world.

One thing that sets Design Thinking at Work apart from other books on design thinking is that it challenges some of the wild claims that have been made about this approach. It offers a grounded, practical perspective on applying design thinking in different contexts and navigating the inevitable challenges.

3 – Change by Design

Change by Design, Revised and Updated: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Brown, Tim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 290 Pages – 03/05/2019 (Publication Date) – Harper Business (Publisher)

Introduced a decade ago, the concept of design thinking has gained popularity in business schools, corporations, and the popular press thanks mainly to the work of IDEO, the world-leading strategy, innovation, and design firm headed by Tim Brown.

In this updated edition of Change by Design, Brown clarifies that design thinking does not just apply to so-called creative industries or people who work in the design field. It’s a methodology that can be used by any organisation, from healthcare providers to manufacturing companies, to rethink and improve their processes and outcomes.

For example, Kaiser Permanente used design thinking to improve patient care quality by re-examining how their nurses manage shift change. And Kraft used design thinking to rethink supply chain management, significantly improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Overall, Change by Design is a visionary guide demonstrating how design thinking can transform organisations and industries, regardless of their field or focus. If you want to learn more about the power of design thinking, this book is a must-read.

4 – Graphic Design Thinking

Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming (Renowned Designer Ellen Lupton Provides New Techniques for Creative Thinking About Design Process with Examples and Case Studies) (Design Briefs)
  • Lupton, Ellen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 184 Pages – 07/27/2011 (Publication Date) – Princeton Architectural Press (Publisher)

Looking for an essential graphic design book that demystifies the creative process? Look no further than Graphic Design Thinking by Ellen Lupton. In this book, Lupton uses various techniques to stimulate fresh thinking and arrive at compelling and viable solutions.

But don’t worry, Lupton’s hands-on approach, made famous with her previous book Thinking with Type, makes the creative process accessible to anyone. Gone are the days of thinking creativity is an inborn talent, as Graphic Design Thinking proves that anyone can tap into their creativity and use it to create incredible designs.

According to a survey by IBM, creativity is the most critical leadership quality managers seek in employees. However, 75% of employees say they aren’t achieving their creative potential. Graphic Design Thinking comes here, as it presents many methods applicable to any brainstorming scenario.

The techniques presented in the book are grouped around the three primary phases of the design process: defining the problem, inventing ideas, and creating form. From informal strategies ideal for quick, seat-of-the-pants thinking to formal research methods like focus groups, interviewing, brand mapping, and co-design.

5 – Design for How People Think

Design for How People Think: Using Brain Science to Build Better Products
  • Whalen PhD, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 236 Pages – 04/23/2019 (Publication Date) – O’Reilly Media (Publisher)

John Whalen’s book, “Design for How People Think,” provides insights into how our cognitive processes shape our experiences. It explains the six critical cognitive processes, known as the “six minds,” that contribute to our perception of a singular experience. Whalen also introduces the concept of “contextual interviews,” a valuable tool for teams to gather critical insights about customer behaviour.

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By conducting contextual interviews, your team can gather information about the conscious and unconscious processes that affect user behaviour. You can use this information to create products and services that cater to the needs and wants of the customers. Whalen’s book highlights the importance of understanding the human psyche in designing for user experience.

The book also includes practical examples of how leading companies like the Fortune 100 used the system described to create highly successful customer experiences. Applying the concepts presented in the book can improve your products and services and create a more satisfying customer experience.

Incorporating psychology and cognitive science insights into design has become increasingly important in today’s competitive market. This book provides valuable insights for anyone involved in product design and development, from corporate leaders to designers and marketers. With “Design for How People Think,” you can unlock the potential to create exceptional customer experiences.

6 – Don’t Make Me Think

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter)
  • Krug, Steve (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages – 12/24/2013 (Publication Date) – New Riders (Publisher)

If you’re a web designer or developer, you’ve probably heard of the classic usability guide Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. Since its publication in 2000, it has become a staple resource for anyone interested in creating user-friendly websites. In this book, Krug explores the principles of intuitive navigation and information design, offering witty, commonsensical advice that is easy to follow.

What sets Don’t Make Me Think apart from other usability guides is its practicality. Krug doesn’t get bogged down in theory; instead, he focuses on providing real-world examples and practical advice that you can apply immediately. The book is also profusely illustrated, making it easy to follow Krug’s ideas.

Krug has returned with a fresh perspective to re-examine the principles that made Don’t Make Me Think a classic. In the updated edition, you’ll find new examples and a new chapter on mobile usability, making it even more relevant to today’s web design landscape. And despite the updates, the book is still short, making it a quick and easy read.

If you’ve never read Don’t Make Me Think before, it’s worth checking out. As many people have said, reading should be required for anyone working on websites. And if you’ve read it before, you’ll appreciate the new updates and examples that Krug has added.

7 – The Design of Business

The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage
  • Hardcover Book
  • Martin, Roger L. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages – 10/13/2009 (Publication Date) – Harvard Business Review Press (Publisher)

The ability to innovate is crucial for any company looking to succeed in today’s market. One way to foster innovation is through design thinking. Design thinking involves applying a human-centred approach to problem-solving, empathising with the end-users and creating solutions that address their needs.

According to Roger Martin, author of “The Design of Business,” design thinking is not just a buzzword but a valuable tool for companies to drive innovation and gain a competitive advantage. Martin argues that design thinking can help companies move from mystery to code, where knowledge advances from a state of confusion to a predictable formula that can be fully automated. This advancement, in turn, leads to increased productivity and reduced costs, creating significant value for the company.

Martin presents examples of leading companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, and RIM, successfully utilising design thinking to produce breakthrough innovations and gain a competitive edge. These companies understand that design thinking is not just about aesthetics but a way to approach problem-solving and creation holistically.

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8 – Design Thinking for Training and Development

Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys That Get Results
  • Boller, Sharon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 274 Pages – 06/09/2020 (Publication Date) – Association for Talent Development (Publisher)

Design Thinking for Training and Development is a practical guide that provides a solid introduction to design thinking and how to use it in training and development projects. The authors, Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher, emphasise the importance of involving learners in the design process and considering their needs in addition to business requirements.

According to a study by the Design Management Institute, companies that invest in design thinking outperformed their peers in the S&P 500 by 211% over ten years. This highlights the value of design thinking as a problem-solving methodology that can lead to competitive advantage.

Boller and Fletcher’s process involves several steps, including getting perspective and refining the problem. This is followed by ideation and prototyping, iteration, and implementation. Balancing the needs and constraints of learners, businesses, and other stakeholders is crucial throughout the process.

Design thinking for training and development also involves getting buy-in from sceptical stakeholders. You can achieve this by taking requests for training, gathering perspectives from stakeholders and learners, and crafting problem statements that uncover the actual issue.

By using design thinking tools and techniques, talent development professionals can create training and development programs that are more effective, engaging, and learner-centred. The LX, or learner experience, is a crucial part of this process and should be considered at every stage of development.

9 – This is Service Design Thinking

This is Service Design Thinking: Basics, Tools, Cases
  • Stickdorn, Marc (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 01/11/2012 (Publication Date) – Wiley (Publisher)

Service design thinking is a methodology that focuses on creating and delivering services that meet the needs and expectations of customers. According to a study by Deloitte, customer experience is becoming increasingly important, with 82% of companies considering it a competitive differentiator. Therefore, creating a positive customer experience is crucial for businesses to remain competitive and retain customers.

The example of two coffee shops selling the same coffee at the same price illustrates how service design can affect the customer’s decision to choose one. The coffee shops may have similar products, but their service design can differentiate them and influence customer perception.

Service design encompasses various aspects, such as customer journey mapping, service blueprints, and prototyping. It involves understanding the needs and wants of customers, designing services that meet those needs and continuously improving the services based on customer feedback.

This Is Service Design Thinking is a comprehensive guide to service design thinking that includes case studies, practical tools, and techniques. It provides insights from experts in the field and highlights the importance of collaboration and co-creation with customers in the service design process.

10 – Rethinking Users

Rethinking Users: The Design Guide to User Ecosystem Thinking
  • Hardcover Book
  • Youngblood, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages – 03/16/2021 (Publication Date) – Laurence King Publishing (Publisher)

Designers often aim to create solutions that cater to their users’ needs and wants. However, the conventional notion of “the user” is outdated and incomplete, failing to account for our complex, interconnected world. Today’s users are influenced by various factors beyond their direct interaction with a product or service. This is where Rethinking Users comes in.

Rethinking Users is a practical and fun book that challenges readers to rethink their understanding of users and their experiences. It offers a radical new approach to user experience design that opens up new opportunities for creating products and services that cater to users in new and innovative ways.

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One of the critical features of the book is the set of user archetype cards that it comes with. These cards help teams unlock new user-centred thinking and design inspiration. The cards represent different user archetypes, such as “the sceptic,” “the busy parent,” and “the creative,” and are intended to stimulate the imagination and encourage new ideas.

According to a report by Forrester Research, customer experience leaders achieve compound annual revenue growth rates more than five times higher than those of laggards. This highlights the importance of focusing on the user experience to drive business success.

11 – The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design

The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design
  • 57 clear-to-use design methods
  • Case studies of process in action
  • Practice worksheets
  • IDEO.org (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design is a valuable resource for anyone interested in using design to create innovative solutions to social problems. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just starting, this guide provides a step-by-step approach to the human-centred design process.

One of the critical features of the Field Guide is the inclusion of 57 clear-to-use design methods. These methods help practitioners understand their users’ needs and desires and develop solutions that meet those needs meaningfully. The guide also includes worksheets and case studies illustrating how human-centred design has been applied in various contexts, from healthcare to education to social justice.

Since its launch in 2015, the Field Guide to Human-Centered Design has been purchased by over 10,000 people worldwide. This is a testament to the growing interest in using design to create social impact. In fact, according to a report by the Design Management Institute, design-driven companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 228% over 10 years. This demonstrates the value of incorporating design thinking into social innovation efforts.

Whether working in a non-profit, government agency, or social enterprise, the Field Guide to Human-Centered Design can help you create more effective solutions to complex social problems. By putting the needs of your users at the centre of your design process, you can create solutions that genuinely make a difference in people’s lives.

12 – How Design Makes Us Think

How Design Makes Us Think: And Feel and Do Things
  • Adams, Sean (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 02/23/2021 (Publication Date) – Princeton Architectural Press (Publisher)

Design is all around us and can significantly impact our emotions, actions, and decisions. Whether it’s the design of a product, a website, or a physical space, design can elicit a range of responses from users. In his book How Design Makes Us Think, graphic designer Sean Adams explores the power of design and its ability to influence human behaviour.

Adams provides numerous examples of how design can affect our emotions, such as how red can create a sense of urgency or certain typefaces can convey a sense of authority. He also delves into how design can impact our thoughts and decision-making, such as how the layout of a website can influence our navigation and choice of content.

According to a survey conducted by Adobe, 73% of respondents agreed that “good design makes a difference in the world.” Moreover, 85% of companies that prioritised design saw an increase in their market share, compared to 70% of companies that didn’t prioritise design. This highlights the importance of innovation in business and how it can impact a company’s success.

Adams’ book also examines the sociological and historical reasons behind our responses to design. For instance, he discusses how certain design styles and trends reflect their time’s cultural and societal values.

13 – Things We Could Design

Things We Could Design: For More Than Human-Centered Worlds (Design Thinking, Design Theory)
  • Wakkary, Ron (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 312 Pages – 08/24/2021 (Publication Date) – The MIT Press (Publisher)

Historically, human-centred design has been seen as progressive, as designers prioritise human values. However, this approach has also contributed to climate change and the extinction of other species. Ron Wakkary argues that we need a new design approach that considers the exploitation of nonhuman species and materials. In his book Things We Could Design, Wakkary suggests that posthumanism offers a way forward by displacing the human at the centre of thought and action.

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Wakkary’s approach centres on “designing-with,” which emphasises the need for more than just human participation in the design process. He argues that design must acknowledge the existence and importance of nonhumans in our world and consider their needs and perspectives in our design decisions. This means designing with humility and cohabitation rather than placing human desires and values above all else.

Wakkary also discusses the idea of “nomadic practices,” which refers to the varied and diverse approaches to design that exist in different contexts and communities. He argues that we must embrace this plurality of intentionalities and situated knowledge to create a more expansive and inclusive design practice.

By rethinking the role of design in our world and acknowledging the importance of nonhuman species and materials, we can create a more sustainable and equitable future. Wakkary’s book offers a thought-provoking and inspiring exploration of these ideas and is a must-read for designers, philosophers, and anyone interested in the intersection of design and ecology.

14 – Solving Problems with Design Thinking

Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works (Columbia Business School Publishing)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Liedtka, Jeanne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages – 09/03/2013 (Publication Date) – Columbia Business School Publishing (Publisher)

Solving Problems with Design Thinking offers real-world examples of how design thinking has been used to solve various business challenges. In the book, readers will find ten case studies that show how managers at companies like 3M, Toyota, IBM, and Intuit have successfully applied design methods to improve their organisations.

For example, the book includes a case study of MeYou Health, an entrepreneurial startup that used design thinking to develop a social network for health and wellness. By putting users at the centre of the design process, MeYou Health created an engaging and effective platform, helping users achieve their health goals.

The book also includes case studies of government and social sector organisations that have used design thinking to tackle complex social problems. For instance, the City of Dublin used design thinking to improve its public transportation system. In contrast, Denmark’s The Good Kitchen used design thinking to create healthy and sustainable meals for elderly citizens.

According to a survey by the Design Management Institute, design-driven companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 219% over ten years. This suggests that design thinking is not just a trendy buzzword but a powerful tool for driving business results. Solving Problems with Design Thinking offers practical insights and inspiration for managers who want to apply design thinking to their organisations.

15 – Business Model Generation

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers (The Strategyzer series)
  • Osterwalder, Alexander (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 07/13/2010 (Publication Date) – John Wiley and Sons (Publisher)

Are you an entrepreneur or business leader struggling to create a successful business model? Do you need to adapt to the ever-changing market but find it challenging to develop a strategy that will set you apart from your competitors? If so, Business Model Generation may be the solution you need.

This handbook was created by 470 “Business Model Canvas” practitioners from 45 countries and provides a visually stunning and easy-to-follow guide for designing tomorrow’s enterprises. It explains the most common business model patterns and concepts from leading business thinkers, allowing you to reinterpret them for your unique context.

The book teaches you how to systematically understand, design, and implement a game-changing business model or analyse and renovate an old one. You’ll better understand your customers, distribution channels, partners, revenue streams, costs, and core value proposition. Using the tools and ideas presented in this book, you can create a strategy that sets you apart from your competitors and leads your organisation to success.

Many successful companies, including Airbnb, GE, and Nestle, have used Business Model Generation. The book has sold over one million copies and has been translated into 30 languages, making it a worldwide phenomenon. It’s a must-read for innovating and creating a successful business model.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, design thinking is an innovative approach that rapidly changes how businesses operate, solve problems, and create customer value. It is a powerful tool that you can use to unleash creativity, drive innovation, and achieve business success.

The books listed above offer a wealth of knowledge and insights on design thinking, ranging from basic principles to advanced techniques, case studies, and real-world examples. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced design thinker, these books provide invaluable resources to help you develop and sharpen your skills and to stay ahead of the competition.

So, pick up one (or more) of these design thinking books and start your journey to becoming a better design thinker today!

Last update on 2023-05-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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