12 Books for Product Design Managers

This time, I’d like to share some of my best nonfiction reading with you. Here is a list of 12 recommended books for anyone who deals with product design management. These books are not about product design management, but about different related topics: innovation, marketing, management, design, engineering and even history and psychology. I can guarantee you that each of these books is interesting and enriching, for both professional and personal matters.

Getting Things Done by David Allen (2002)
Don’t underestimate the management of tasks and self-productivity (as I did before reading this book). After all, these are the building blocks of your work. In this book, you’ll find simple, yet valuable, methods and techniques for improving your productivity and organizing your work. It will improve your self-management and reduce the stress in your life.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman (2002)
This book is about the relationships between human beings (users) and products. It’s hard to believe how much there’s to learn about this topic. It discusses usability, ergonomics, user-experience, design, and more. It will help you significantly in making better user-oriented products.

The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda (2006)
If I had to follow only one design role, it would definitely be: KIS – Keep It Simple. This simple book explains why simplicity is valuable, why you should follow it, and how to achieve it. Simply read it.

Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart (2002)
Let’s face it: products harm the environment. This book will teach you how to do more with less; it will show you how to reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to minimize damage. It’s vital to the future of our planet that anyone who deals with product design follow the agenda of this book.

Change by Design by Tim Brown (2009)
This is one of the most important design management books. It will show you how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Reading it will improve your design management skills and enrich your knowledge. This book should be in the library of any PDD company.

Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson (2010)
If you are interested in learning about new productive and agile working methods, ones that break old conventions and suggest new tools that fit the 21st century, this is a book for you. Give yourself a few hours to read this inspiring book—you will enjoy and benefit from it.

Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach by G.Pahl, W.Beitz, J.Feldhusen, K.H.Grote (2006)
This book is known as the engineering design handbook. It teaches engineering design methods from concept to manufacturing, with lots of examples and illustrations. Even if you don’t plan on reading it, you should have one in your office—sooner or later you’ll open it and find some valuable help.

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson (2014)
This is perhaps the first book that describes in detail the third industrial revolution that’s already underway. The industrial world is changing, from mass production to mass customization, thanks to new technologies (crowdfunding, online marketing, digital manufacturing, 3D printing). Any business that wishes to deal with product design and manufacturing will be affected by this new industrial revolution. Be prepared—read this important book.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)
There aren’t many biographic books about design leaders. This book is a unique opportunity to learn about everything related to the business of great product design and management from the very best. Don’t miss it.

Blue Ocean Strategy / W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne (2005)
This book deals with marketing strategy that benefits from innovation and design. “Blue Ocean” is a metaphor for a new market achieved by a new product’s capabilities and positioning. If innovation, design and marketing is part of your business, go ahead and read it.

Thinking, Fast and Slow / Daniel Kahneman (2011)
This book is about the human mind—how it works and thinks. Did you know that we have two very different “systems” in our minds? One is fast, intuitive, and emotional, and the other is slow, deliberative, and logical. Everybody should learn about it—especially those who wish to learn about humans’ perceptions and reactions.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind / Yuval Noah Harari (2015)
This book tells the extraordinary story about us homosapiens, from the very beginning to the present. How is that related product design management?  Well, it’s not directly related; however, as a homosapien as well as a product design manager, I found it extremely interesting and inspiring. Go read it; it will make you rethink everything.


On my next post, I’ll give some tips about CAD working methods: how to be more productive with your CAD design work.
Get notified about this upcoming post.

  • Onkar Kulkarni

    Great list. I would add “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely. Though its not a design management text, the insights it offers into peculiarities of human behavior while making purchases, taking decisions and delaying important activities are surely useful to anyone who is in the business of creation.

    • http://productdesignmanagement.com/ Yariv Sade

      Onkar, Dan Ariely is always welcome to my reading list :) Tnx.

  • Vitorio Benedetti

    Great list, thanks for putting this together. I would also add: ‘Creativit,Inc’ from Ed Catmull as it offers great insights on how to protect and nurture ideas, creating an environment where individuals can excel. Also “The Rise of the DEO” from Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland, on the traces and behaviors of the next generation of design leaders. Finally “Turn the ship around” from David Marquet, as a great account on how to empower individuals. Not particularly a design book per se, but it’s a great reading for any leader.

    • http://productdesignmanagement.com/ Yariv Sade

      Thanks Vitorio, I’ll sure go and check your recommended books.

  • Natalie

    Blue Ocean is a great read