11 Top Design Thinking Books To Read

Stay current on design thinking insights with this literature

Did you know that there is a wide range of literature available about design thinking that can help you improve innovation and design thinking efforts at your organization? Reading can be a powerful tool to help you discover best practices and tools for success. Here are 11 top design thinking books to read this year. These books can help you whether you are getting started with understanding what design thinking is or if you are developing your own design thinking training or leading a culture of innovation.

  • Creative Confidence
  • Change by Design
  • Design Thinking
  • The Design of Business
  • Designing for People
  • Designing for Growth
  • This is Service Design Doing
  • This is Service Design Thinking
  • Designing your Life
  • The Art of Innovation
  • The Design Thinking Playbook

Keep reading to learn more about each of these design thinking books.

1. Creative Confidence

This book by Tom Kelley, the founder of IDEO and creator of the Stanford d.school, provides the key principles and strategies to tap into our creative potential. An entertaining and inspiring guide, this book is sure to help you be more productive and successful in your career and personal life. Find it here.

2. Change by Design

An old classic, Tim Brown’s Change By Design is a great introduction on design thinking and the collaborative process of designing for your customer’s needs. Labeled as a book for “creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization, product or service”, Change by Design is sure to get your thoughts moving. Find it here.

3. Design Thinking

Nigel Cross’ Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work sheds a light on the creative process and provides case studies of how amazing designers work to help you develop the skills needed for design thinking at your organization. The book offers key insights into this process from many different industries, written by a prominent designer in the field. Find it here.

4. The Design of Business

Roger Martin’s The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage provides a compelling case of why innovation and design thinking should matter at your organization. The author covers how prominent, leading companies across the world have used design thinking across every stage of their company to produce breakthrough innovations and develop competitive advantage in their field. Find it here.

5. Designing for People

Henry Dreyfuss’ Designing for People provides a historical perspective on how his innovative devices shaped the cultural landscape of the 20th century and provides professional advice, case studies, and history to help you improve your design thinking efforts. Find it here.

6. Designing for Growth

Designing for Growth uncovers the mindset, techniques and vocabulary of design thinking and teaches managers how to exploit design’s potential to grow their business. Find it here. Also check out the Designing for Growth Fieldbook here.

7. This is Service Design Doing

You know that developing a customer-centric culture is important, but how do you actually accomplish this in practice? This ambitious read by Marc Stickdorn attempts to answer this question with a thoughtful how-to guide. You’ll learn how to run workshops, concept productively, and turn your ideas into reality. Find it here.

8. This is Service Design Thinking

Another great design thinking book by Marc Stickdorn, this one focuses on service design thinking. You’ll learn how to improve the customer experience and interactions between services and customers. By the end, you’ll have a good sense of how to market your business as unique and exactly what the customer is looking for. Find it here.

9. Designing your Life

This book will take you through how design thinking can be used to design and build your career and your life, bringing you the most productive, healthy, and happy experience you can find. Using the same techniques responsible for top products and technology, you’ll find your own path in life through this read. Find it here.

10. The Art of Innovation

Tom Kelley’s classic The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm provides insights from industry leader IDEO on how to foster a continuing culture of innovation at your organization and develop a more collaborative approach to working. Find it here.

11. The Design Thinking Playbook

Michael Lewrick’s Design Thinking Playbook: Mindful Digital Transformation of Teams, Products, Services, Businesses and Ecosystems provides a modern, actionable guide to design thinking and the future of business. The book outlines design thinking as applied across a range of industries, as well as the tools leaders of industry use to grow their business. Find it here.


These top design thinking books can help you learn more about the design thinking process and gain valuable tools, insights, and resources to help empower your organization to innovate creatively and become a leader in your industry. For more resources, check out our innovation and design thinking blog. If you’d like to go deeper on design thinking check out these other links.

Design Thinking Training Workshop Resources
Online Design Thinking Training
Design Thinking “Train-the-Trainer” Facilitator Training

Email us at darin@innovationtraining.org if you are interested in a custom design thinking workshop based on a recommended  framework or book. Based on our experience leading design thinking sessions for over 100 organizations, we like to listen to what you’d like to accomplish and design a workshop for your needs, users, and scenario.

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