The best design thinking books 📚

Browse the best books on design thinking as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader

The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader

By Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, Robert Wiltbank

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.

From the list:

The best books on mastering design thinking

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Book cover of Creative Clarity

Creative Clarity

By Jon Kolko

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…

From the list:

The best books on mastering design thinking

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Book cover of Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work

Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work

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

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…

From the list:

The best books on mastering design thinking

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

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

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

By Sarah Stein Greenberg

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.

From the list:

The best books on mastering design thinking

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

Book cover of The Field Study Handbook

The Field Study Handbook

By Jan Chipchase

Why this book?

The Field Study Handbook is both a guide to international field research and a beautiful work of art. Jan Chipchase comprehensively covers every possible consideration for the planning and execution of global field research, including such topics as travel logistics, lodging guidance, division of labor, and working with local guides. Jan’s deep experience from the front lines of field research comes across on every beautifully illustrated page.

From the list:

The best books for understanding user research

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