100 books like Breakthrough Thinking

By Gerald Nadler, Shozo Hibino,

Here are 100 books that Breakthrough Thinking fans have personally recommended if you like Breakthrough Thinking. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Small Is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered

Ray Cunningham Author Of The Post-Growth Project: How the End of Economic Growth Could Bring a Fairer and Happier Society

From my list on our fatal addiction to economic growth.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my career, I managed research into how the problems of modern industrial society are tackled in different countries. This reflected my own comparative instinct, which arose out of growing up bilingual and at home in two cultures. My journey into politics, sociology, and economics made me increasingly aware of the blindness of our social arrangements to the growing ecological crisis – and of how this blindness is perpetuated by the narrow silos of our political and academic systems. Our only hope now lies with thinkers who can escape those silos and integrate different perspectives into a holistic understanding. We don’t need more specialists, but generalists. Fewer economists, more moral philosophers. 

Ray's book list on our fatal addiction to economic growth

Ray Cunningham Why did Ray love this book?

The book that gave birth to the slogan... This is an iconoclastic look at the capitalist economy from a man who trained as an academic economist and worked for the National Coal Board. Schumacher thought creatively and wrote and spoke in a lively and engaging way and the book is an accessible introduction to a different way of thinking about what the purpose of an economy, or economics, is.

Also, Schumacher was invited to become the first Director of the Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society, but felt that he was already too old for the job. Many years later, I became the Foundation’s last Director.

By E.F. Schumacher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Small Is Beautiful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This New York Times bestselling “Eco Bible” (Time magazine) teaches us that economic growth must be responsibly balanced with the needs of communities and the environment.

“Embracing what Schumacher stood for--above all the idea of sensible scale--is the task for our time. Small is Beautiful could not be more relevant. It was first published in 1973, but it was written for our time.” — Bill McKibben, from the Foreword

Small Is Beautiful is Oxford-trained economist E. F. Schumacher’s classic call for the end of excessive consumption. Schumacher inspired such movements as “Buy Locally” and “Fair Trade,” while voicing strong opposition…


Book cover of The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

Steve Fenton Author Of Web Operations Dashboards, Monitoring, & Alerting

From my list on DevOps from before DevOps was invented.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a programmer and technical author at Octopus Deploy and I'm deeply interested in DevOps. Since the 1950s, people have been studying software delivery in search of better ways of working. We’ve seen many revolutions since Lincoln Labs first introduced us to phased delivery, with lightweight methods transforming how we wrote software at the turn of the century. My interest in DevOps goes beyond my enthusiasm for methods in general, because we now have a great body of research that adds to our empirical observations on the ways we work.

Steve's book list on DevOps from before DevOps was invented

Steve Fenton Why did Steve love this book?

I was a long-time skeptic about the business novel format, but The Goal changed my mind.

In this book, Goldratt presents concepts like Theory of Constraints with a business thriller (seriously). You get to live the same aha moments as the protagonist, Alex Rogo, as he encounters the pipe-smoking philosopher Jonah.

The setting may be a factory, but you’ll find many parallels to your DevOps work in this book.

By Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeffrey Cox,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Goal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A Graphic Novel version of this title is now available: "The Goal: A Business Graphic Novel"

30th Anniversary Edition. Written in a fast-paced thriller style, The Goal, a gripping novel, is transforming management thinking throughout the world. It is a book to recommend to your friends in industry - even to your bosses - but not to your competitors. Alex Rogo is a harried plant manager working ever more desperately to try improve performance. His factory is rapidly heading for disaster. So is his marriage. He has ninety days to save his plant - or it will be closed by…


Book cover of Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace

Isaac Getz Author Of Freedom Inc.: How Corporate Liberation Unleashes Employee Potential and Business Performance

From my list on transformational leadership books that will help you to practice it.

Why am I passionate about this?

One remarkable leader I've studied, Bob Davids, said that the greatest scarcity in the world is not oil or food but leadership. For two decades, I've been on a quest to uncover the essence of a transformational leader, someone who cultivates an environment where employees' needs are so well-addressed that they are eager to show up and give their best every day. This journey led me to study hundreds of leaders and books, all serving as the foundation for my thoughts and writings. I trust that these books will kickstart your own journey. Mine has guided me to play a pivotal role in the corporate liberation movement, involving hundreds of leaders who have transformed their organizations.

Isaac's book list on transformational leadership books that will help you to practice it

Isaac Getz Why did Isaac love this book?

This is the freshest account I’ve read by a leader of his company’s transformational journey: Ricardo Semler became CEO of his father’s company, SEMCO, at the age of 21, and wrote the book in his early thirties, not to forget the transformative journey he just led.

But even more than the narrative itself, I loved Semler’s philosophical reflections, densely packed throughout the book. Example: “We simply don’t believe our employees have an interest in coming in late and doing as little as possible. After all, the same people raise children and elect mayors and presidents. They are adults. In SEMCO, we treat them as adults.”

Semler, twice chosen as Brazil’s businessperson of the year, proves how a leader, driven by authentic beliefs, can lead a transformation that makes people and—consequently—the company thrive.

By Ricardo Semler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Maverick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Today and Tomorrow

Dr. Gerhard Plenert Author Of The XLs

From my list on developing innovative and creative thinkers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Gerhard Plenert has a PhD in Resource Economics and Operations Management, which are fancy words for “a whole lot of math.” He spent 12 years as a university professor and the remainder of his life living and working all over the world in places like Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and of course North America. He has 8 children, and his grandchildren are just starting to get numbered, the last count was 15. He has successfully published over 30 books and close to 200 articles on various business and academic topics. But his loves include Sci-Fi movies like Avatar, Star Trek, and Star Wars, and mysteries like Jason Bourne and James Bond.

Dr.'s book list on developing innovative and creative thinkers

Dr. Gerhard Plenert Why did Dr. love this book?

This book first came out in 1926 but it’s interesting how much of what he teaches in this book is still relevant and lacking in today’s workplace. He is falsely remembered for his operations concepts as if they were more important than the employee, but he stresses over and over again the importance of focusing on the needs of the employee. This is also reflected in his objective of creating a vehicle for the average man, making his life easier and happier. If we would have listened and learned from him long ago we may not be rehearing these same messages again coming from Japanese automakers.

By Henry Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Today and Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry Ford is the man who doubled wages, cut the price of a car in half, and produced over 2 million units a year. Time has not diminished the progressiveness of his business philosophy, or his profound influence on worldwide industry. The modern printing of Today and Tomorrow features an introduction by James J. Padilla, Group Vice President, Ford North America. It also includes an enhanced selection of photos illustrating the processes and facilities Ford covers in the text. Taiichi Ohno acknowledged that a key stimulus to JIT was his close reading of this book. Today, these same ideas are…


Book cover of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Stephen P. Ramocki Author Of Teaching Creativity in Marketing and Business Education: A Concise Compilation of Concepts and Methodologies that Will Increase Students' Creativity

From my list on creativity in marketing and business education.

Why am I passionate about this?

 I have studied creativity for 40 years and, along with the textbook I wrote, I am continually teaching my marketing students how to become more creative.  I have unequivocally demonstrated that everyone who wants to become more creative can do so with the appropriate tutelage.  This is why I get so much satisfaction from teaching creativity and it is why I wrote my book that I am highlighting here.

Stephen's book list on creativity in marketing and business education

Stephen P. Ramocki Why did Stephen love this book?

Leonardo da Vinci was arguably the most creative person who ever walked the earth. He is known by many as an artist but his most impressive contributions came in the form of inventions. Imagine in the fifteen hundreds conceptualizing tanks, automatic weaponry, and parachutes. He was so far ahead of his time that people thought he was crazy.

By Michael J. Gelb,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This inspiring and inventive guide teaches readers how to develop their full potential by following the example of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.

Acclaimed author Michael J. Gelb, who has helped thousands of people expand their minds to accomplish more than they ever thought possible, shows you how. Drawing on Da Vinci's notebooks, inventions, and legendary works of art, Gelb introduces Seven Da Vincian Principles—the essential elements of genius—from curiosità, the insatiably curious approach to life to connessione, the appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things. With Da Vinci as your inspiration, you will discover an…


Book cover of Unlocking Creativity: How to Solve Any Problem and Make the Best Decisions by Shifting Creative Mindsets

Amit S. Mukherjee Author Of Leading in the Digital World: How to Foster Creativity, Collaboration, and Inclusivity

From my list on global leadership capabilities needed now.

Why am I passionate about this?

Currently a Professor of Leadership and Strategy at Hult, I’ve been on the faculties of other top business schools, and an executive officer of a NASDAQ company. I’ve led “new to the world” technology projects and advised CXOs of global companies. These experiences convinced me that poor leadership is the biggest reason organizational initiatives fail. Two decades ago, I switched from being a technology scholar; I began researching leadership and writing for practitioners, not academics. My first book was on a 2009 “best business books” list. This one is in Sloan Management Review’s Management on the Cutting Edge series—books that its editors believe will influence executive behavior.

Amit's book list on global leadership capabilities needed now

Amit S. Mukherjee Why did Amit love this book?

I often pose a simple thought experiment: “How many renowned 20th century CEOs created something new to the world? Now, how may renowned 21st century CEOs haven’t done so?”

The answer, in both cases, is near zero. Our organizations are moving from being productivity-focused (doing more with less) to creativity-focused (giving form to something that doesn’t exist). Most managers and aspiring leaders are clueless about this profound change even though they will probably fail if they don’t make this shift.

Roberto argues that six flawed beliefs—such as in benchmarking and in focused execution—preclude creativity and provides tools to help reinvent moribund organizations.

By Michael A. Roberto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unlocking Creativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tear down the obstacles to creative innovation in your organization

Unlocking Creativity is an exploration of the creative process and how organizations can clear the way for innovation. In many organizations, creative individuals face stubborn resistance to new ideas. Managers and executives oftentimes reject innovation and unconventional approaches due to misplaced allegiance to the status quo. Questioning established practices or challenging prevailing sentiments is frequently met with stiff resistance. In this climate of stifled creativity and inflexible adherence to conventional wisdom, potentially game-changing ideas are dismissed outright. Senior leaders claim to value creativity, yet often lack the knowledge to provide…


Book cover of Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius

Anthony D. Fredericks Author Of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them

From my list on creativity and imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was the kid who colored outside the lines and marveled at the special effects of monster movies. Yet, as I grew, I became aware of certain “rules” and “expectations” that seemed to limit my innate creativity. When I became a professional educator, I became even more cognizant of how students’ creativity was shut down. I read tons of books on creativity, but soon discovered that no one had ever written a book on the ingrained practices in family life, education, work environments, and personal beliefs that stamped out our natural creativity. Why do so many people consider themselves as “non-creative?” I wanted to find out…and change the equation.

Anthony's book list on creativity and imagination

Anthony D. Fredericks Why did Anthony love this book?

Here is another “classic” that should be part of your personal library.

Michalko shares life-changing creative techniques captured from creative “experts” such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Pablo Picasso. With easy-to-follow instructions, you too, can lead a more creative life (and change the world) at home and at work.

The author shows you, in exquisite detail, how to alter your thinking or modify your problem-solving abilities to generate tons of new ideas and tons of satisfying solutions to ongoing challenges.

No matter your occupation, this is a book that will generate an array of new and positive ideas.

By Michael Michalko,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cracking Creativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Thinkertoys, this follow up brings innovative creative thinking techniques within reach, giving you the tools to tackle everyday challenges in new ways. 

Internationally renowned business creativity expert, Michael Michalko will show you how creative people think—and how to put their secrets to work for you in business and in your personal life. You don't have to be a genius to solve problems like one. Michalko researched and analyzed hundreds of history's greatest thinkers across disciplines—from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso—to bring the best of their techniques together and to teach you how to apply…


Book cover of A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

Anthony D. Fredericks Author Of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them

From my list on creativity and imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was the kid who colored outside the lines and marveled at the special effects of monster movies. Yet, as I grew, I became aware of certain “rules” and “expectations” that seemed to limit my innate creativity. When I became a professional educator, I became even more cognizant of how students’ creativity was shut down. I read tons of books on creativity, but soon discovered that no one had ever written a book on the ingrained practices in family life, education, work environments, and personal beliefs that stamped out our natural creativity. Why do so many people consider themselves as “non-creative?” I wanted to find out…and change the equation.

Anthony's book list on creativity and imagination

Anthony D. Fredericks Why did Anthony love this book?

This is the “Rock of Gibraltar” of creativity books.

First published in 1983, it still stands as the pre-eminent tome of how to infuse more creativity into your life. This is a book I refer to time and time again. Its strategies have helped me address and solve more problems and conundrums than any other book.

From writing my blog for Psychology Today to fixing the kitchen sink to teaching undergraduate student how to think more productively, this book has given me the tools necessary to, not only think outside the box, but create entirely new boxes for most of life’s challenges.

By Roger von Oech,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Whack on the Side of the Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the years, A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD has been praised by business people, educators, scientists, homemakers, artists, youth leaders, and many more. The book has been stimulating creativity in millions of readers, translated into eleven languages, and used in seminars around the world.

Now Roger von Oech's fully illustrated and updated volume is filled with even more provocative puzzles, anecdotes, exercises, metaphors, cartoons, questions, quotations, stories, and tips designed to systematically break through your mental blocks and unlock your mind for creative thinking. This new edition will attract an entire new generation of readers with updated…


Book cover of Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others

John Beeson Author Of The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level

From my list on advancing and succeeding at the executive level.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent many years as a management consultant to a range of big, global corporations, smaller companies, and not-for-profits. I also headed up succession planning and management development at two major companies. I decided to go into this field based on a strong conviction, a conviction that continues today: that leadership counts. Strong leaders benefit people in their organizations and, ultimately, society itself. Having worked with many senior leaders and led organizations myself, I know the range of pressures executives face and how easy it is to fail. Companies need a supply of capable, well-equipped senior leaders, and those who aspire to top-level positions need guideposts about achieving their career aspirations. 

John's book list on advancing and succeeding at the executive level

John Beeson Why did John love this book?

One of the success factors I highlight in my book is leading innovation and change.

Simply maintaining or marginally improving the status quo isn’t enough in most organizations. Many aspiring executives find the requirement to lead innovation intimidating, since by definition it means finding solutions that are different from what they are most familiar with.

Murray illustrates that the vast majority of innovations are not “bolts out of the blue.” Rather, they are often the result of taking a new idea out of one context (for example, a different field or industry) and then building on it.

The implication for me is that the successful executive needs to adopt an external perspective, i.e., looking outside his or her own organization, and find ways to identify new ideas—even if the practical application is not immediately apparent. 

By David Kord Murray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Borrowing Brilliance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most of us think that outstanding success derives only from groundbreaking innovation. But we're wrong. In fact, many of the most successful business ideas of our time have come about when someone has borrowed and adapted an idea from somewhere else.

In Borrowing Brilliance, David Kord Murray explains exactly how you can do the same. He demonstrates conclusively that new business ideas are simply combinations of existing ideas, and then sets out to show how you can solve current problems and create new opportunities by learning where to look for ideas and answers. In the process, he takes you through…


Book cover of The Art of Creative Thinking: 89 Ways to See Things Differently

Anthony D. Fredericks Author Of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them

From my list on creativity and imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was the kid who colored outside the lines and marveled at the special effects of monster movies. Yet, as I grew, I became aware of certain “rules” and “expectations” that seemed to limit my innate creativity. When I became a professional educator, I became even more cognizant of how students’ creativity was shut down. I read tons of books on creativity, but soon discovered that no one had ever written a book on the ingrained practices in family life, education, work environments, and personal beliefs that stamped out our natural creativity. Why do so many people consider themselves as “non-creative?” I wanted to find out…and change the equation.

Anthony's book list on creativity and imagination

Anthony D. Fredericks Why did Anthony love this book?

This slim volume is packed - no packed! - with eighty-nine practical, innovative, and absolutely incredible creativity strategies that will change your life…right now.

This is an absolute bonanza of easy-to-use advice that will fire up your creative engines as no other book. Here you will discover how to approach any challenge in your work or family life.

This is creativity at its best - a wealth of super-charged possibilities from the worlds of writing, music, architecture, painting, technology, and more.

These brief entries include how to surprise yourself, why you should plan to have more accidents, how to contradict yourself more often, how to look forward to disappointment, and how to be more incompetent, among others.

Your thinking will change and so will your approach to any problem.

By Rod Judkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Creative Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get ready to get inspired
 
In short and engaging entries, this deceptively simple volume presents examples of creative thinkers from the worlds of writing, music, architecture, painting, technology, and more, shedding light on their process, and showing how each of us can learn from them to improve our lives and our work.

Subjects range from the grueling practice schedule of the Beatles and the relentless revisions of Tolkien, Sondheim, and Picasso to the surprisingly slapdash creation of The Simpsons. You’ll learn about the most successful class in history (in which every student won a Nobel Prize), how frozen peas were…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in creative thinking, problem solving, and Japan?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about creative thinking, problem solving, and Japan.

Creative Thinking Explore 12 books about creative thinking
Problem Solving Explore 35 books about problem solving
Japan Explore 476 books about Japan