The best books on mastering design thinking

The Books I Picked & Why

Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create, and Lead in Unconventional Ways

By Sarah Stein Greenberg

Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create, and Lead in Unconventional Ways

Why this book?

Creative Acts for Curious People is a treasure trove of activities and exercises to build design thinking competencies. It is the first book of its kind to move beyond design methods to design learning experiences. Each exercise was carefully crafted by 116 of the most talented designers, educators, contributors, and academics at the Standford d.School. Until now, these exercises were only available to d.School collaborators in shared Google Drives if you were lucky enough to get access. This is a huge gift to the design thinking community.


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The Field Study Handbook

By Jan Chipchase

The Field Study Handbook

Why this book?

The Field Study Handbook is the definitive how-to guide to running international field research projects. Jan Chipchase reveals not only how to run the practicalities of field study projects from initial pitch to project deliverable, but he also reveals the why-to conduct research and how to align it with organizational intent. It is the blueprint for running excellent field projects.


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The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader

By Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, Robert Wiltbank

The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader

Why this book?

The Catalyst will inspire every manager who wants to create extraordinary growth in spite of the organizational roadblocks standing in the way. It is both a how-to guide and an inspirational you-can-do-it guide that provides both the pathway and the vision for creating change in organizations. It is the prequel to Jeanne Liedtka’s popular Designing for Growth and Designing for Growth Field Book which are my go-to workbooks for applying design thinking to projects. A must-read.


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Creative Clarity

By Jon Kolko

Creative Clarity

Why this book?

It is hard to pick just one Jon Kolko book to recommend because all of his books are brilliant. My copy of Creative Clarity is dog-eared and heavily underlined which is an indicator of just how much I rely on it over and over again. I like it because Kolko articulates the specific conditions necessary to achieve creative cultures and most importantly details how to do it. Mastering design thinking is much more than learning new tools and building the mindsets and behaviors to deepen your experience, it is about solving more problems and ultimately creating more impact. This book will help you do that. 


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Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work

By Dave Allan, Matt Kingdon, Kris Murrin, Daz Rudkin

Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work

Why this book?

My favorite business school professor gave me this book on a whim that I might be interested in the work of What If? I took it home and devoured it in a matter of hours. It’s captivating in its accessibility to normal people and probably more relevant today than it was twenty years when it was published as creative catalysts and design thinkers refocus on behaviors over process and habits over tools. By adopting the six creative behaviors outlined in the book: freshness, greenhousing, realness, momentum, signalling, and courage, innovators can increase their creative capacity and even more importantly, their creative confidence. 


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