Design Thinking  | 5 MIN. READ

Back-to-School Reading: The Design Thinking List

ExperiencePoint, September 10, 2018

Back-to-School Reading: The Design Thinking ListIt’s back-to-school season, and while students are hitting the books again, there’s no better time for professionals to also continue their learning journey. The start of another academic year inspired us to compile a list of go-to books to help people and organizations tackle transformation, innovation and change initiatives using design thinking as a powerful strategy.

Here are five of our favorites:


Change by Design, by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO. Tim Brown is a leading voice in the design thinking world and his book, Change by Design is a wonderful introduction to the discipline. It provides insights into how innovation actually occurs (Spoiler: it doesn’t emerge fully formed from one big idea), and it provides proven techniques for integrating design thinking at every level of the business. Brown refers to this process as “A human-centered approach to problem-solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and creative.” It’s a must-read if you want to learn more about design thinking.

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Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantageby Roger Martin, director of the Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management. If your leadership team aspires to create a corporate culture where disruptive ideas can flourish, start by reading this book. Roger Martin breaks down how design thinking enables corporate innovation, and he offers practical guidelines for teaching teams to use these techniques. The book includes profiles of Cirque du Soleil, Proctor and Gamble, and other innovative organizations who use design thinking to produce breakthrough innovations that give them a competitive advantage.

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Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too), by David Butler, VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Coca-Cola, and Linda Tischler, senior editor at Fast Company. There is nothing better than a real world case study showcasing how design thinking can transform an organization -- which is why we love this book. Butler and Tischler share how Coca Cola has used design thinking strategies for decades, to stay relevant with consumers and to transform the business model from purveyor of a single sugary soda, to global conglomerate with a portfolio of 21 billion-dollar brands, including juices, sparkling waters, and flavored coffees. The book also offers advice to readers in any size company on how to use the lessons learned about design thinking at Coca Cola to grow their own businesses.

 Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too) Image source:


Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers, by Jeanne Liedtka professor of business administration at the Darden School of the University of Virginia, and Tim Ogilvie Founder at Peer Insight Ventures, an innovation consultancy. Once you’ve read all the books on the theory of design thinking, you will be ready to dive into the brass tacks of driving an innovation transformation. That’s where this book comes in. Designing for Growth offers a pragmatic approach to the mind-set, techniques, and vocabulary of design thinking, and provides useful tools that managers can use today to introduce design thinking concepts to their people so they can generate better solutions to meet the needs of customers.

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Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All, by David and Tom Kelley, founder and partner of IDEO. If you have ever heard anyone say “but I can’t draw!” (we hear this at virtually every workshop we host) please read this book. It explores why everyone (even you) can draw, sketch, and build things out of clay and pipe cleaners, and why doing so is a vital part of the creative process. In one review, bestselling author Tom Peters said this book “may literally change the world.” We couldn’t agree more.

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For more learning, inspiration and insights, don’t miss ExperiencePoint’s other posts to help you better understand how to use design thinking, so you can build better, more agile and more sustainable organizations.


Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.



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