Did you resolve to learn Design Thinking in the New Year? Here’s a curated list of the best Design Thinking books out there. We polled Design Thinking experts from our favorite LinkedIn Design Thinking group for their best ideas.

So jump start your new year with a full bedside table or choose one from our list of the best design thinking books and read a little each night.


1. The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman

5 Best Design Thinking Books“I recommend a book called The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, who had coined the term ‘UX’ many years ago,” says Kevin G. Lee, a digital project consultant in the Barcelona area. “Mr. Norman wrote a tremendous book on designing things to be used by humans.”

As of the published date of this post, the revised and expanded edition of The Design of Everyday Things has a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon, as a result of 133 customer reviews.

This is a book that has likewise been highly recommended by members of our innovation team here at our Kaleidoscope innovation and product design consultancy. Kaleidoscope Director of Design Chris Collins refers to it in his free, downloadable e-book released earlier this year, Meaningful Aesthetics: Our Ultimate Guide to Getting Comfortable with Uncomfortable Design Decisions.

2. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, by Christopher Alexander et al.

5 Best Design Thinking BooksA Pattern Language was recommended by Steven Forth, co-founder of TeamFit in Vancouver, who says, “This book provides deep insight into design that can be applied across multiple design disciplines. It has been hugely influential and is behind the current interest in software and design patterns.”

A Pattern Language has an incredible 4.8 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon, reviewed by 185 customers.

Authors of A Pattern Language were from the Center for Environmental Structure at the University of California, Berkeley. The 1977 book’s content was shaped by initial language of computer programming and design.

3. Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results, by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg

5 Best Design Thinking Books“Though not specifically called Design Thinking in the book, Drew Boyd (the author) runs a design thinking course at the University of Cincinnati and online,” says Uday Pasricha, founder and promoter of Intellectual Properties Int Pvt Ltd, in the Mumbai area, India. “The entire course is based on his book called Inside the Box, by Drew Boyd and Prof Jacob Goldberg. The latter is the original researcher and founder of SIT Systematic Inventive Thinking who developed simple-to-use cognitive tools.”

This book has received a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with 40 customer reviews, at the time this article was published.

According to the book’s Amazon description, Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) is “systemiz[ing] creativity as part of the corporate culture.” SIT seems similar to what we refer to at Kaleidoscope as a “culture of innovation.” For another cost-free reading option for your virtual bedside table, you might also be interested in Kaleidoscope’s downloadable e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Growing a Culture of Innovation… Or Tomatoes.

4. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd, by Youngme Moon

5 Best Design Thinking BooksDifferent: Escaping the Competitive Herd is written by Youngme Moon, who is the Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation and a Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. She describes how companies can get so caught up in competing with others that they forget how to be innovative and truly stand out from the crowd.

“This book teaches you how to think creatively and different than competition, through amazing case studies… Just awesome reading,” says Robert Razgoršek, lead designer at Volvo Car Adria Group in Slovenia. “It had a big impact on my design thinking.”

With 92 customer reviews, this book was rated 4.2 out of 5 stars.

According to the book’s description on Amazon, “Different shows how to succeed in a world where conformity reigns… but exceptions rule.”

5. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, by Edward de Bono

5 Best Design Thinking Books“Many describe it as a textbook so rather than reading once through, you will constantly pick up and put down this book as you practise and learn the thinking methods set forth by de Bono,” says Steven Wyeth, a touring exhibition designer in Melbourne, Australia. “This is a great book to have close-by and can be used by people of all ages and professions.”

With 51 customer reviews at the time this article was published, Lateral Thinking has a 4.2 out of 5 star rating.

6. Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean, by Roberto Verganti

5 Best Design Thinking Books“This book provides some very clear case studies and frameworks around the use of design thinking in product/service innovation,” says Dale Hobson, vice president, strategic materials and business development at Pinova Holdings, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean was rated 4.2 out of 5 stars, by 20 customers on Amazon.

Part of the book’s summary states, “Design-driven innovations do not come from the market; they create new markets.”

7. The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life, by Bernard Roth

5 Best Design Thinking Books“Bernard Roth’s The Achievement Habit is another interesting take on Design Thinking as a broadly applicable problem solving process,” says Dexter Francis, who recently worked as a project engineer at Walt Disney Imagineering in California.

The Achievement Habit is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon as a result of 67 customer reviews, at the time this article was published.


Why Design Thinking?

Many people want to tap into their underlying creative nature to build a better business, campaign, educational program, nonprofit organization, product or service. Design Thinking is being increasingly used across multiple disciplines to lead to innovative (user-centered) solutions. (If you don’t want to take my word for it, check it out in the Harvard Business Review.) Happy New Year!


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