Top 5 Books on Design Thinking

Design thinking is one of the critical skills for people working in any industry. In fact, Microsoft recently identified some of the most in-demand skills for the future and they included design thinking among other pivotal skills like digital and analytical abilities and continuous learning capabilities. It does take a lot of learning to be able to get yourself in the right mindset and we are happy to say it isn’t impossible. It just requires some research and some room to let your imagination go wild.

There are many books out there which will tell you ways to create and design great products (and thousands of articles listing them).

If you’re interested in diving deep into design thinking to find out what it means, the methods, and how it applies to business or organizational challenges, these are five books we recommend adding to your bookshelf.

The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, by Roger L. Martin

In The Design of Business, Roger Martin contends that organisations can balance intuitive originality and analytic mastery in a dynamic interplay that he calls design thinking. This approach is necessary, according to Martin, to maintain a long-term competitive advantage.

The book on design thinking claims that people rely far too exclusively on analytical thinking, which merely refines current knowledge, producing small improvements to the status quo.

To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another. As knowledge advances across the stages, productivity grows and costs drop-creating massive value for companies.

The author shows how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage, and how design thinking initiatives are supposed to unfold in a corporate setting. The Design of Business reveals the true foundation of successful, profitable innovation.

Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown

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.

The book covers an introduction to 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. It’s a human-centred approach to problem-solving that helps people and organisations become more innovative and creative.

What this book on design thinking covers:

  • Argues that design thinking offers an effective approach to innovations within all aspects of business and society
  • Design thinking is about initiation, patterns, emotionality as well as functionality
  • Difference between being a designer and thinking like a designer
  • Need for human-centred worldview rather than technology-centered
  • Overlapping spaces: inspiration, boundaries
  • Desirability (human-centred), viability (economically-centred)and feasibility (tech-centred)
  • The brief, teams, a culture for innovation, embodied thinking
  • Looking for what people don’t do and what they don’t say
  • And lastly – empathy – how thinking from your target audience’s shoes can make a huge difference

101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization by Vijay Kumar

Unlike other books on design thinking, 101 Design Methods approaches the practice of creating new products, services, and customer experiences as a science, rather than an art, providing a practical set of collaborative tools and methods for planning and defining successful new offerings. A beginner can learn from it, managers can plan with it, and practitioners of innovation can improve the quality of their work by referring to it.

The author wrote this book, as it covers all about innovation, user experience design, and design thinking. He offers guidelines on how to use design thinking for innovation, but unlike other authors, the book is very thorough and provides many specifics, including step-by-step instructions and scenarios demonstrating how to apply the techniques described in the book.

The book as a whole is organised into a set of principles required for successful innovation, a model of the design innovation process, and seven modes of the innovation process. Scores of techniques are described for each of the modes along with many useful examples.

How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz

How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days allows us to learn how to combine imagination, design-thinking, and a stop-clock to solve some of the most pressing challenges you’ll ever face. It shows us what happens when process geeks meet design-thinking in internet time

The stories are entertaining and intense. We learn about the personality of a future hotel “concierge-robot” – the result of a sprint session. How does Blue Bottle Coffee go online? How does one organise the world’s cancer data? And if you’re a developer, you already know about Slack, the “fastest-growing business app in history.”

There are lessons here for all of us – for entrepreneurs of every stripe, and even those of us in more traditional industries. Marketing teams can certainly learn how to speed up projects – from ideation to delivery. Perhaps the biggest contribution of the process is speed. Highly recommended for those who are fed-up with the endless meetings and endless delays of Dilbertian business.

Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills, by David Sherwin

Inside the Creative Workshop book, you’ll find 80 creative challenges that will help you achieve a breadth of stronger design solutions, in various media, within any set time period. Exercises range from creating a typeface in an hour to designing a paper robot in an afternoon to designing web pages and other interactive experiences. Each exercise includes compelling visual solutions from other designers and background stories to help you increase your capacity to innovate.

This book also includes useful brainstorming techniques and wisdom from some of today’s top designers. By road-testing these techniques as you attempt each challenge, you’ll find new and more effective ways to solve tough design problems and bring your solutions to vibrant life.


We hope you enjoyed our list of the top books on design thinking. If you are looking for effective design strategies to boost your digital marketing plan, visit us at Bunjy. co.