I've been now mentoring, leading, and managing designers for a couple of years and one of the questions that come up often is "what are the non-obvious books that you should read to improve your design thinking?" I was thinking about this question for a while and I believe those four should be on everyone's radar.
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"Continuous Discovery Habits" by Teresa Torres
This is - as it says on the tin - a product discovery book, and a great one at that. I haven't encountered many books that are this condensed and actionable on problem framing, exploring the problem space, and product thinking in general. If you often feel you don't know where to start, this is a book for you.
"Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely
Technically, this is a behavioral economics book. If you never heard of behavioral economics, it's basically a study of economics in real life, instead of relying on models. Here, the author exposes and explains a lot of irrational behaviors that humans have and it's a great study on people's real life buying behavior. If you sometimes wonder why people act in weird and unexpected ways, start with this one.
"Switch" by Chip & Dan Heath
"Switch" is, at its core, a change management book. Chip & Dan Heath looked into research around managing change, and distilled the knowledge into a couple of good, actionable things you can do to get from where you are to where you (or your team) want to be. If you're struggling with convincing people (I found a lot of designers early on do), this is the book you want to read.
"Lean Analytics" by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz
Whether you like it or not, at some point as a designer you will end up analyzing data or building experiments based on some metrics - that's just how our business works. "Lean Analytics" is a good introduction to setting up experiments and being more data-driven, which is a skill anyone should looking into product design or product management should have.
And there you have it - my list of non-obvious books that every designer should read at some point in their career. What are yours? Hit me up on Twitter if you have any recommendations - since one of my goals in life is to constantly learn, I love hearing from people about what helped them get to where they are now.