Tools and recommendations

Design Thinking means go hands-on and get started, try and be curious. Our workshops provide you with unique learning experiences. If you want to further deepen them and learn more about Design Thinking and innovation at home, the HPI Academy team has some personal recommendations for you.

Prototyping Card Set

The prototyping card set is a useful collection of 36 different prototyping methods. The card set was created within the HPI Stanford Design Thinking Research Program and is exclusively available from HPI Academy.

Price: 49, - EUR (excl. shipping)

orders via amazon

Design Thinking Research - Hasso Plattner, Christoph Meinel, Larry Leifer (Ed.)

Within the Design Thinking Research Program (DTRP), researchers from Stanford University and HPI strive to apply rigorous academic methods to understand how and why Design Thinking innovation works and fails. The research results from the different DTRP projects are annually published in the Springer volume “Understanding Innovation”. The reader gains insights into the latest scientific findings about factors of success, tools and methods of Design Thinking. More information about the DTRP.

Study on the success of Design Thinking

In the business sector, Design Thinking has developed from a creative technique into a driver of corporate change. This is one of the main results of the first large-scale scientific study on the effect of Design Thinking in daily work. Researchers of the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program found that companies and organizations are using this innovation concept in an even more extensive and diverse way than was previously thought. More information (incl. download).

Design Thinking Live – Christoph Meinel, Ulrich Weinberg, Timm Krohn (Ed.)

In Design Thinking Live friends and partners of HPI Academy und HPI School of Design Thinking share their experiences with the innovation approach. Contributors from research and industry worldwide as well as D-School alumni report on how Design Thinking is applied in practice and why real innovation is easier and more successful with Design Thinking.

More Information 

Network Thinking - Ulrich Weinberg (Ed.)

You are looking for a metaphor describing the paradigm shift from analog to digital world? Take a look at your bookshelf! The author uses the centuries-old encyclopedia, the famous German „Brockhaus“, as a thinking model of the analog 20th century and, on the other hand, uses the network as the thinking model for the digital 21st century. Learn how board members of global corporations are reshaping their organization, teachers are rebuilding their education and how Network Thinking can also be personally useful to you.

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The Achievement Habit - Bernard Roth

Why we love this book:

Bernie Roth draws from his decades of experience at Stanford University – from being a well-known Professor of Engineering with a focus on Robotics and Kinematics to his current tenure as Academic Director of the d.school – to bring to life this informative and practice-oriented look at Design Thinking as a personal empowerment tool.

Written in colorful, Californian English, the book is a literary pleasure. It calls on its readers to see aspects of our lives not as fixed, but rather as opportunities for interpretation and change, and thus to live life in a fundamentally action-oriented way. To support this, the book offers the reader many practical exercises that have been inspired by and drawn from the Design Thinking approach and courses of the D-School.

We know Bernie Roth to be a driving and inspirational forces behind the Design Thinking movement because of our long-time collaboration with him via the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program, but that’s not the only reason we like this book. It inspires us because it shows the kinds of brilliant changes Design Thinking, or more specifically the spirit of design thinking, can enable in a learning and teaching context. Furthermore, the book offers many answers to the fleeting question “what can design thinking do for you”?

- Timm

The Design of Business – Roger Martin

Why we love this book:

Roger Martin provides an extensive look into a business world that is facing wicked problems, far too complex to address with only an analytical or only an intuitive way of thinking. It needs a combination of both thinking modes, which Martin refers to as Design Thinking. He delivers a well-chosen set of case studies from companies that successfully managed to tackle single problems with Design Thinking.

“To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another - from mystery (something we can't explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer) to code (when the formula becomes so predictable it can be fully automated). As knowledge advances across the stages, productivity grows and costs drop - creating massive value for companies.”

- Holger

Exposing the Magic of Design – Jon Kolko

Why we love this book:

Interaction Designer Jon Kolko delivers a good introduction to the topic of synthesis. Oftentimes considered to be the most difficult part of Design Thinking, design synthesis requires intuitive and analytical skills in order to make sense out of raw and mysterious data. Each attempt to tackle a design problem starts with its understanding from a designer’s perspective. Thanks to Kolko, we gained a better understanding of the methods and theory of synthesis.

“Design synthesis is a way of thinking about complicated, multifaceted problems of this scale with a repeatable degree of success. Design synthesis methods can be applied in business, with the goal of producing new and compelling products and services, and they can be applied in government, with the goal of changing culture and bettering society.”

- Holger

Creative Confidence – David & Tom Kelley

Why we love this book:

To me, this book is the Kelley brother's big manifesto. Creative confidence is the mental state that powers Design Thinking; at the same time it is often said to be the goal of taking people through the process in trainings etc. The book features a "best of" of Stanford innovation stories that you've probably heard of if you are familiar with the work of the d.school. Derived from these stories, the Kelleys provide structured lists of small things you can do to start innovation work in your organization that are in my opinion particularly suitable for people who work in a corporate environment. Alltogether, this is not a book on innovation tools, but an entertaining pep talk from two Design Thinking pioneers. Read it if you're new to Design Thinking and planning to shake up your company or department with a fresh attitude.

- Johannes

The Upside of Messiness: Clumsy Solutions for Wicked Problems - Steven Ney and Marco Verweij

In the past three decades, organizational studies have generated an impressive body of literature about how best to deal with complex and uncertain – or ‘wicked’ – policy problems. Each of these approaches aims to activate and mobilize the plurality of opinion and knowledge that wicked problems give rise to. However, contending methods go about this in different ways. Relying on Mary Douglas’ cultural theory, this article (a digest of a longer piece that you can find here (external link)) outlines a method of evaluating and predicting the likelihood that any given approach will successfully tackle wicked policy challenges. More information and purchase (external link to Harvard Business Review).

Managing the Unexpected – Karl Weick

Why we love this book:

In the past decades, Karl Weick defined some of the most prominent concepts in organizational research, namely the concept of sense-making and loose couplings. In this book he delivers a groundbreaking perspective on so-called high reliability organizations such as nuclear power plants. These organizations deliver working environments that foster individual and team mindfulness in every aspect of work. Many of the described principles of mindful teams are characteristic of Design Thinking teams as well. It is an inspiring glimpse inton how teams can perform, as soon as their managers enable them to do so.

“One of the great challenges any business or organization can face is how to deal with the unexpected. While traditional managerial practices such as planning are designed to manage unexpected threats, they often make things worse. How do you organize for high performance in a setting where the potential for error and disaster is overwhelming? In this book, the ninth in the University of Michigan Business School Management Series, Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe look to high reliability organizations (HROs) - aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, fire-fighting crews, and others - for the answer. HROs have developed ways of acting that provide a template for all organizations that want to be more reliable in managing the unexpected.”

- Holger

Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate - Michael Schrage

Why we love this book:

Prototyping may be the most intuitive aspect in Design Thinking, nevertheless its huge potential is only partly visible to most practitioners. Michael Schrage has extensively observed and reflected on how companies develop and play with prototypes and models in order to innovate. His book is one of the all-time favorites for both designers and business practitioners. For those of us who operate at the interface of both professions, it is simply a must-read.

“Author Michael Schrage is one of today's most widely recognized experts on the relationship between technology and work.”

- Holger

The Inmates are Running the Asylum – Alan Cooper

Why we love this book:

Alan Cooper is the founder of California-based Cooper Design and an outstanding creative mind (e.g. developer of Visual Basic). He is also a witty and smart writer, using metaphors and vivid examples to illustrate the impact of bad design decisions and how to overcome cognitive friction. In his book, Cooper introduces the concept of personas as a crucial part of every design process.

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum uses the author's experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think.”

- Holger

The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation - Jay Harman

Why we love this book:

Jay Harman, founder and CEO of PAX Scientific, a green corporation that specializes in engineering designs for more-energy-efficient industrial equipment, suggests that corporations should increasingly look to nature for inspiration. The author discusses the advances made by his own company producing PAX fans that are 50 percent more energy-efficient than those of competitors. He is self-acclaimed one of the first "to make biomimicry a cornerstone of modern future engineering".

This book provides a valuable update on technological developments in the field of biomimicry and provides an intriguing case for innovative green technology that goes beyond sustainability.

- Dr. Arndt Pechstein (HPI Academy network, Biomimicry Specialist, owner of phi360, founder & CEO of Biomimicry Germany)

Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by Nature - Janine Benyus

Why we love this book:

This book highlights for the first time the great potential profitability of copying nature’s time-tested, non-polluting manufacturing, design, and computing technologies. Touring many laboratories, author Benyus reports on technologies mimicking natural processes (hence “BioMimicry”) in the business-driven quest for better products, environmentally sound technologies and miracle drugs.

This book constitutes a great step to bridge the dangerous chasm between various disciplines and sectors, between technophiles and environmentalists. Innovation requires cross-diciplinarity. Biomimicry just proves to be a method capitalizing on that intrinsically.

- Dr. Arndt Pechstein (HPI Academy network, Biomimicry Specialist, owner of phi360, founder & CEO of Biomimicry Germany)