Top 10 book picks from design leaders at 2023 Leading Design Conference

Colleen Gao
November 22, 2023

On the 8th and 9th of November, the Askable UK team attended the 2023 Leading Design Conference. This event brought together over 200 design leaders from across the globe for two days of inspiring talks, amazing food and connecting with other global design leaders, all under the beautiful canopy of the Barbican Conservatory. 

Whilst at the conference, the team facilitated an activity where we collected insights on two key questions; (1) what is a book that changed the way you lead? and (2) what has been your biggest leadership challenge this year?

In this post, we've compiled a list of the top 10 books, each offering unique perspectives and actionable strategies for effective leadership in design and beyond.

Also read: Top 5 challenges from design leaders at 2023 Leading Design Conference

1. Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Design Teams

This book provides a comprehensive guide to structuring and leading in-house design teams. It covers essential topics such as hiring, developing processes, and fostering a culture of innovation, making it a must-read for anyone managing a design team.

Get it here

2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Through a captivating fable, this book uncovers five fundamental problems that can derail a team. It's an insightful read that offers practical solutions for building cohesive and effective teams.

Get it here

3. Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators

This field guide complements the previous book by providing real-world applications and exercises to overcome team dysfunctions. It's a hands-on resource for leaders looking to enhance team dynamics and performance.

Get it here

4. Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value

This book is an essential read for leaders in product design and development. It focuses on building a continuous discovery process that aligns product development with customer needs and business goals.

Get it here

5.Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures

In our globalised world, understanding cultural differences is key. This book offers a framework for navigating the complexities of leading in a multicultural environment.

Get it here

6. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman's seminal work delves into the dual systems of the human mind and how they influence decision-making. It's a thought-provoking read that challenges leaders to understand and harness the cognitive biases and heuristics that shape our decisions.

Get it here

7. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

A classic in web design, this book offers timeless principles for creating user-friendly websites. Its lessons extend beyond web design, offering insights into user-centered design thinking.

Get it here

8. Leading Content Design

This book is specifically tailored for leaders in the field of content design. It provides strategies for managing content teams, developing content strategies, and integrating content design into the broader design process.

Get it here

9. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Ideal for new managers, this book offers practical advice and personal anecdotes on the transition from individual contributor to leader. It's a relatable and insightful guide for anyone stepping into a managerial role.

Get it here

10. Invisible Women: Exposing the Gender Bias Women Face Every Day

This book is a powerful exploration of gender bias in data and its impact on women. It's a crucial read for leaders committed to inclusivity and equity in their organisations.

Get it here

Other crowd favourites:

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Colleen Gao

Head of UK

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