Recent readings: The Connected Company and more!

In no particular order, here are some brief blurbs on design-related books that I’ve recently read and enjoyed (chronicling the past 3 months roughly)…

 

The Connected Company by Dave Gray & Thomas Vander Wal

An excellent overview of how to evolve towards a “connected company” that is fundamentally a complex, adaptive system embodying the values of a “learning organization” and “social network” dedicated to maximum customer experience value. Gray’s beautiful hand-drawn illustrations are a perfect complement to the theories and anecdotes. The book overall is quite consumable with short summaries and easily graspable chapters. Definitely a keeper!

 

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by AG Lafley & Roger Martin

A rare good book on strategy (not the usual business fad stuff), reflecting the authors’ “design thinking” orientation with a keen eye towards maximizing business value. The core questions of “where to play” and “how to win” frame the brunt of the book, with ample case studies and detailed diagrams worth careful study. This serves as a useful playbook and seems like a good complement to Osterwalder’s “Business Model Generation” as well.

 

101 Design Methods by Vijay Kumar

There seems to be quite a few of these “methods” books lately and this one adds to the mix nicely as a wonderful compendium of tools, models, methods, etc. based largely upon the Instititue of Design’s MDM program. Digestible brief overviews with color photographs and/or richly detailed process diagrams make this a compelling reference on any designer’s desk.

 

Designing Together by Dan M. Brown

Ah, creative professionals and their damn big egos and petty sensitivities! How to possibly teach them about managing tensions and conflicts back at the office, and evolve mature professional approaches dealing with difficult clients? This book provides a rather lengthy but useful overview of approaches and frameworks. While the intent is great, with great supporting content, I wonder if this could be distilled down to just a 50 page book, not 250 pages! Good reference for tough times, next to that bottle of bourbon.

 

Microinteractions by Dan Saffer

This is simply brilliant and required reading for every UI / interaction designer. Dan provides an excellent, digestible framework of “trigger + rule + feedback + loops” to serve as a lens for examining micro interactions in our projects and daily living as well. This is loaded with great examples and memorable anecdotes, as well as nice nods to history (like the origins of copy-paste). Another true keeper of a book, with long-term value.

1 comment

  • Hi Uday,
    Thanks for taking a look at Designing Together! I appreciate the comment about the length. I, too, was surprised at how much there was to say on the topic. On the one hand, I wanted the book to be very practical, but I also wanted to build a framework for helping designers understand their complex work environments.

    In the first part of the book, each chapter ends with a short summary (about half a page) to condense the “theory” portion. The second part of the book is a series of techniques for dealing with difficult situations and cultivating a more collaborative workplace. While the book itself is lengthy, I’ve structured it to be more of a reference than a thing to read from beginning to end.

    Thanks again for the feedback. I’m always looking for ways to make this topic more accessible.

    — Dan

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