Back-to-Work Reading List for Innovators

We put together a short selection of impactful reads that promise both knowledge and enjoyment. This one is not just for the design die-hards; it offers something for everyone involved in researching, conceptualizing, developing, marketing, or selling products and services.

August 16, 2023

Deja Kofol, Design Researcher

Jobs To Be Done: Theory to Practice, by Anthony W. Ulwick

Here's a recommendation straight from our director's desk. The Jobs Theory serves as a guiding framework that we employ to uncover the underlying customer needs and determine how best to address them. Put simply, the Jobs theory can be boiled down to this: People purchase products and services to accomplish specific tasks. Every day, each of us has a list of objectives (=jobs) we aim to accomplish – from providing kids with a nourishing breakfast to efficiently commuting to work to maintain relationships with friends. To execute these tasks in the most efficient, comfortable, and enjoyable manner, we seek out tools (=products, or services) that can assist us.

The framework helps teams to shift the focus from the product or service itself to the actual needs and goals of customers. This shift promotes the identification of new business opportunities and the creation of solutions that revolve around users' needs, enhancing functionality and desirability.

Interviewing Users – How to Uncover Compelling Insights, by Steve Portigal

An inaugural read if you're embarking on a career shift into design research or if you find yourself in a role that demands an evaluation of user experience and the discovery of unmet customer needs. It's the go-to guidebook for uncovering valuable user insights through qualitative research methods.

As an experienced researcher, the author shares his lessons through anecdotes about fieldwork and gives advice on research preparation and data analysis.

A fundamental lesson of the book extends to anyone involved in the early stages of innovation or product testing: never make the assumption that you fully understand your customer's experience. Users may interact with, understand or perceive the product differently than you do - that’s why you should talk to them!

The Honest Product Guide, by Futerra

In charge of product communications? Excited about sustainability and transparency? This will go well with your Sunday morning coffee! A short, yet insightful reading about the importance of radical honesty in presenting your business's purpose, impact, and progress. Based on a worldwide research involving consumers and companies, the study encapsulates a global perspective.

There is rising pressure on organizations to deliver proof on their claims, since customers actively seek information concerning the social and environmental impacts of their purchases. Gaining customer trust is becoming a compelling and universal challenge.

The report offers theoretical insight into the background of this prevailing scepticism, and forecasts its evolution in the years ahead. This short read will equip you with data and guiding principles, while simultaneously igniting inspiration through a myriad of successful global business practices.

By the way, did you know that nearly 40% of consumers say they would switch from their preferred brand to one that offered more transparency?

Designer Maker User, by The Design Museum

This one takes you on a journey through the evolution of the design field. It unravels the interconnectedness of people and design, spanning from the industrial revolution to the digital age. Through case studies and a selection of articles, it illustrates how, throughout this time, designers understood users, approached briefs, employed new technologies, and manufacturing processes to build the world as we know it today.

The main lesson of the book is both humbling and empowering; design holds the power to change an individual's experience, behaviour, society, culture,... even nature. With that power comes responsibility for solutions we put into the world and the far-reaching consequences they hold.

Oh, and it showcases some of our favorite designs!