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Business Books for Designers

My friend Austin wrote me, “I’m putting together a list of recommended books for designers interested in strategy, the business side, and jumping into entrepreneurship. Can you recommend 3-5 books you think are indispensable?

I don’t think there’s a single book that fits that description well, and I’ve wondered if a ‘business for designers’ book would be popular or not. But pressed for an answer, here’s the 3-5 I pointed to:

What the CEO Wants You to Know — what I use as a textbook in my ‘Business & Design’ class at Pratt. A simple primer.

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days — reading it now, very interesting as history and very reassuring for me during the initial, difficult stage of building a business to know everyone goes through the same pain.

Strategy Safari is probably the best primer on strategy. Innovator’s Dilemma is important these days, as is Blue Ocean Strategy. Though they’re all so long I don’t have time to actually read any of them; they’re reference.

Want more? John Hagel (whose writing is excellent) has a great list of tech-influenced strategy references.

  1. Clayton Christensen gave a fantastic talk at an Open Source conference back in ’04 that nicely summarizes his second book and touches on many of the themes of The Innovators Dilemma. It’s highly listenable and is a great use of an hour and a half (it’s a long talk, plus Q&A). I go back to it about once a year and always get something new.

    You can download the mp3 from IT Conversations:

  2. Victor, what about the other way around. I’m in business strategy and would like to read about design. Not a general book. One that really applies design thinking to strategic themes… Does that actually exist?

    I liked the book outcome of the workshop “managing as designing” at Case Western, but it doesn’t go far enough (except for the first chapter):

    Is there anything similar?

    Cheers from Geneva, Switzerland,

  3. Hi Alex — I don’t think that book exists. And unfortunately I’m not a good person to ask about other books that teach design to business people as I’m a self-taught designer and have yet to read many of the seminar texts.

  4. Hi – I found ‘The business side of creativity’ by Cameron Foote (et al, I think) particularly useful when I was starting out.

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