The best books on creative thinking

The Books I Picked & Why

Creativity in Business: Based on the Famed Stanford University Course That Has Revolutionized the Art of Success

By Michael Ray, Rochelle Myers

Book cover of Creativity in Business: Based on the Famed Stanford University Course That Has Revolutionized the Art of Success

Why this book?

Creativity in Business was the book that started it all for me in terms of creativity in business. I had just graduated from The Wharton School with my MBA, and I had no idea that business creativity was even a thing. Or even a possibility. I thought they were entirely different worlds, and never the twain shall meet. In this book, authors Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers made me want to go take their course at Stanford. As soon as they started talking about business as art and silencing the “voice of judgment,” I was hooked.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

By Daniel H. Pink

Book cover of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Why this book?

I had been a fan of Dan Pink’s writing since he was on the staff of Fast Company and read his first book, Free Agent Nation. As I began my own publishing and speaking career in 2005, I had the pleasure of being on the same speaking docket as Dan. As I listened to him talk about A Whole New Mind, I knew I had to meet him and get that book. I did. To this day I constantly refer to my signed copy, stuffed full of Post-It notes marking all the amazing exercises and tools in this book.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Ingenius: A Crash Course on Creativity

By Tina Seelig

Book cover of Ingenius: A Crash Course on Creativity

Why this book?

This book is a practitioner’s guide to applied creativity in business, from yet another Stanford University professor. What is it about Stanford? I learned Design Thinking at Stanford, and I’ve had the honor of spending time with Tina Seelig. In many respects, this book is volume two of Creativity in Business a few decades apart. She introduces a conceptual model she calls the Innovation Engine, which explains how creativity is produced on the inside…our “in-genius,”…but is then influenced by the outside world. For anyone looking to create something from scratch, this book is for you.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking

By Roger L. Martin

Book cover of The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking

Why this book?

Roger Martin is a mentor. I learned how to think strategically from him, first-hand. In fact, I hated strategy until I met Roger. He is one of the brightest thinkers on the planet. I use his frameworks daily in my work. His concept of integrative thinking, taught while he was dean of the University of Toronto’s progressive Rotman School, is all about the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at once. This is the stuff of breakthrough. The challenge is to avoid either/or thinking when considering two different ideas and synthesize them into an altogether new concept that improves on both. It’s like alchemy for the mind.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas

By David Burkus

Book cover of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas

Why this book?

I love contrarian thinking. It’s by definition creative…new, novel, useful. That’s what David Burkus does with this book. There are a lot of conventional thoughts about creativity and the generation of innovative ideas that are held out as universal truths, but just aren’t. True, that is. David takes them all to task, pokes holes in them with science and logic and good old thoughtful insight, and dispels an entire family of mythology...misconceptions all relating to creative thinking: brainstorming, collaborating, incentivizing, and about a dozen more. Prepare to have much of your current understanding of creativity shaken.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists