Design thinking – A collection of recommended books, articles and resources

Here are some of the books I have thought are worth of your time.

The article will undergo further modifications when I have some time to write more about them than just the title.

Books/Toolkits

  • Tim Brown (2008). Change by Design How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York, NY: HarperCollins. [Read the classic HBR article published in 2008, Design Thinking]
    Tim Brown, the current CEO and president of IDEO, is an influential thought leader in innovation and design. This book explains what design thinking is, how it can be done, and why design thinking is of such enormous importance for organizations. This was the first book I read on design thinking, and although my thinking has evolved since, this book had a profound impact on my own thinking in regards to customers.
  • Vijay Kumar (2012). 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
    In this book, Kumar lays down his seven-step design innovation process. Each chapter of the book is divided into two main parts, the first one introduces the mindset and the other contains a large number of different useful methods and tools. There are multiple case examples and step-by-step fashioned instructions why, how and when to use different methods. This is a very good companion for those who want to understand the fundamental mindset, methodology, and language of design thinking.
  • Marc Stickdorn & Jakob Schneider (2012). This is Service Design Thinking: Basics, Tools, Cases. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers. [More resources]
    Marc Stickdorn is probably one of the names in the (service) design thinking almost everyone intuitively recognizes. Although service design and design thinking are not the same emerging fields of art, science, and emotion, this is still important for beginners and for more advanced students of (service) design thinking. As the name of the book suggests, it covers basics, tools, and cases. Sometimes the book can be hard to follow thanks to some strange visualizations) The book has certain crucial weaknesses but all in all, it demonstrates the importance of co-creation and user-centred approaches when designing services. If you don’t know anything about (service) design thinking, take a look. If you are more advanced, don’t bother.
  • Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King & Kevin Bennett (2013). Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
    This book is more like a business book rather than a book on design thinking. Authors offer some different cases at which design thinking has been utilized in the past. Unfortunately, only some of the broad range of design tools are explained, but the primary focus is the managerial perspective, i.e. how can I as a manager put design thinking into use and push forward design-driven thinking throughout the organization. If you want to have more business perspective rather than get into the nitty-gritty details, check this book out.
  • IDEO (2015). The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design. IDEO.org [Access toolkit directly]
    IDEO is one of the largest global design and innovation companies in the world, and this is book reveals IDEO’s primary design mindsets, methods and case studies throughout the globe. The toolkit focuses mainly on social innovation in the developing world, but as design thinking is universally applicable, this book serves multiple functions in the end. It’s actually quite different to design solutions for people who face various constraints rather than for people who live in abundance. If you sometimes feel that your organization always struggles with resources, think about those who struggle from day one. There are multiple design methods presented in an easy-to-follow format, and also, there are interesting case studies of HCD in action.
  • Ben Reason, Lavrans Løvlie and Melvin Brand Flu (2015). Service Design for Business A Practical Guide to Optimizing the Customer Experience. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
    This is a great book in which the authors have identified twelve challenges where they have seen service design have business impact. These primary challenges spring out from the customer, business, and organizational challenges. The authors argue that there is three critical factors that form the foundation of the book, namely movement (successful services move customers forward), structure (connect channels, systems, and processes with customer journeys), and behavior (align customers and organizations’ different motivations and goals).
  • Springer’s Understanding Innovation book series
    There is ongoing academic research on the foundations of design thinking, and how design thinking is related to other areas of research such as marketing, strategy, and business operations. There are still multiple unanswered questions, and Springer’s book series is a great place to start if you want to understand the whole endeavor holistically.

Articles/Reports

Useful electronic resources and assets

Videos, lectures, and talks

Photo credit: shawncampbell via Foter.com / CC BY

2 thoughts on “Design thinking – A collection of recommended books, articles and resources

    1. Hi, Jukka-Pekka!

      Nice to hear that you enjoyed the list.

      I will update it shortly with more stuff, e.g. some books and resources available in Finnish.

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