IDEO U’s Design Thinking Book Recommendations
We believe the best way to learn is by seeing, trying, reflecting, and sharing—all of which are the foundation of our online design thinking courses. We also believe that you need to get out into the world to internalize learning—here are books that have helped us deepen our understanding and practice of design thinking.
We also love learning from our community. If there are any books you think we should add to this list, please feel free to message us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your book recommendation and why it should be featured.
Design Thinking Mindset
Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World, by Tina Seelig
Tina Seelig, a Stanford University Professor, shares how everyone can make imaginative ideas a reality. Learn how to work through the steps of imagination, ideation, innovation, and implementation to ultimately create something complex, interesting, and powerful.
When you’re working on a team, how do you define your roles? In this book, you’ll learn about “six thinking hats,” or mindsets that you can adopt to tackle problems and make better decisions.
Warren Berger shows us the power of asking the right questions to help us make better choices in four key areas: decision-making, creativity, leadership, and relationships.
If you want to strengthen your (and your team’s) innovation capabilities, read this book. Based on learnings from companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google, it will teach you 5 skills that will help you move from an initial idea to lasting impact.
Design isn’t just limited to products or services—you can also apply the design thinking mindset to your life. Two Stanford d.school professors share how you can create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Design Thinking for Specific Industries
Everything can be designed—including services. In this book, you’ll learn how to design and market services to create outstanding customer experiences.
A lot of creative work is mental, but having a collaborative physical space definitely helps. After reading this book, you’ll gain tools and insights around how to craft spaces that ignite creativity.
Businesses rely far too exclusively on analytical thinking. Here’s how they can use innovation to level up and gain a competitive edge. Learn more from Roger Martin, an instructor in our Designing Strategy course.
Learn a process that can be incorporated into every class at every grade level to help students discover powerful skills—problem-solving, critical thinking, and imagination—that will help them shape the world’s future.
Design Thinking for Social Impact & Inclusion
A how-to for practicing human-centered design for social innovation, written for both new and experienced practitioners with applicable methods, worksheets, and case studies. Download free pdf version here.
Inclusive design means that your product is created to be accessible to as many different users as possible. This book will share why accessible design is so important, different designs for disabilities on various platforms, and tools and best practices for research and user testing.
Based on the results of more than a decade of research by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, this book is a guide to strategic decision-making in community planning, development, and collaboration.
Inclusive design methods—designing objects with rather than for excluded users—can create elegant solutions that work well and benefit all. Kat Holmes describes how design can lead to exclusion, and how design can also remedy exclusion.
Analogous to Design Thinking
In just 5 days, you can make significant progress toward solving a big business problem. This book is about the sprint methodology from Google Ventures, which has led to the creation of products within Google Search and Google X.
If you enjoyed Designing Strategy, you’ll like this book as well. Our IDEO U instructor, Roger Martin, writes about how leaders can define their strategic goals and guide everyday actions that will lead to business success.
We shouldn’t leave the emotion out of design–especially when it comes to technology. This book will inspire you to reconsider the emotional side of technology, and share new ways to design with a blend of human and machine emotional intelligence.
Good storytelling brings ideas to life. Here’s how you can use visual storytelling techniques to create engaging, persuasive, and emotional products, services, and experiences. Pair with Storytelling for Influence and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master storyteller.
People won't truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the “why” behind it. This book shows the power of asking why—and how it can lead to well-functioning organizations, inspired employees, and even cultural movements. Learn more about leadership in our course Leading for Creativity.
Where does great culture come from? In this book, Daniel Coyle shares a roadmap of the culture-building process, as well as strategies and skills that can generate cohesion and cooperation within a group. Learn more in our course Cultivating Creative Collaboration.
Design thinking isn’t just for creative industries; it can be applied to all types of industries, from healthcare to consumer packaged goods. This is a book for anyone hoping to infuse design thinking into their organization, product, or service. Learn more from Tim in our Leading for Creativity course.
Anyone can be creative. Use this book to grow your confidence and tap into your own abilities for innovation. Learn more from David in our Hello Design Thinking course.
What are the different roles that you can play in an organization to help foster new ideas? Learn in this book, as well as how people overcome blocks to innovation in their businesses.
Create great choices in your own work and learn a new approach—integrative thinking—that will help you leverage the tension of opposing ideas to create transformative new value.
Want to practice design thinking through real world challenges and connect with a like-minded community of innovators? Go deeper with our Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate
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