Richard J. Boland and Fred Collopy [eds.], Managing as Designing, Stanford University Press, 2004. Before there was “design thinking” there was Managing as Designing. This book, and a related documentary film of the same name, resulted from a National Science Foundation sponsored workshop that brought together designers operating at a high level (including Frank Gehry, Paul Kaiser, Joe Paridisio) with managers and management scholars (including Lucy Suchman, Geoff Bowker, Karl Weick). Together they addressed the question “what do our areas have to teach one another?” My co-editor and I explored his personal observation that these designers bring very different attitudes to complex problems than managers tend to. The difference between the one group’s “design attitude” and the other’s “decision attitude” served as a fulcrum  for much conversation at the workshop and since. Fourteen years later, it is frustrating that so much of the attention managers pay to design remains focused on the ideation and thinking parts of design as opposed to its relevance to choosing, making, critiquing and doing…that is, to actually designing things. This book continues to invite its readers to take on the bigger challenges. (11/23/2018)

Richard Buchanan and Victor Margolin [eds.], Discovering design: Explorations in design studies, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. This book was the output of a conference that was held at the University of Illinois in 1990. Twenty-five designers, design educators, and other scholars met to discuss the design process. Eleven papers are organized into three sections: shaping the subject, the world of action, and values and responsibilities.

Fred Collopy, Fast Company Blog Posts, 2008-2009. As interest in design thinking began to grow, editors at Fast Company asked me to write some essays loosely related to managing as designing. They are collected here.

Gregory Gargarian, The art of design, MIT PhD Thesis. Three chapters of this work are reproduced in Kafai and Resnick [eds.], Constructivism in practice: Designing, thinking and learning in a digital world, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996. Gargarian proposed two perspectives to guide design. They represent two kinds of answers to the question “How does the designer know whether he is making progress?” One kind of answer to this question has to do with managing design complexity. Another kind of answer has to do with evaluating the expressive utility of the artifact he is making. He brings a constructionist perspective to bear on his answers to the question. Papert characterized the constructionist educator as one who provides the learner with the freedom to demand knowledge when he is most receptive to it. Gargarian applies and illustrates these design perspectives with a Microworld program, The Textile Designer. There is much in his work that will aid the designers of digital instruments.

Yasmin Kafai and Mitchel Resnick [eds.], Constructionism in practice: Designing, thinking and learning in a digital world, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.

Ken Kocienda, Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s design process during the golden age of Steve Jobs, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018. This is as clear, direct and honest a representation of a software design effort as I have ever read. But more than that, it represents a master class in combining aspects of a design attitude (inspiration, collaboration, craft, diligence, decisiveness, taste, and empathy) to identify “molecules” representing design patterns that are repeatedly useful. What the reader walks away with is practical advice on making great products. Observations such as these: “We couldn’t get away with telling. We were required to show [p. 158].” “Once these granular decisions are made and are incorporated into a larger system, they no longer stand alone. The small-scale justifications must contribute to a scheme larger than themselves [p. 186].” And, “We habitually converged on demos, then we allowed demo feedback to cause a fresh divergence, one that we immediately sought to close for the follow-on demo [p. 214].” Kocienda’s respect for the empirical research on design permeates the book, though he never lets it get in the way of telling the very particular and interesting stories his book is organized around. As a result, Creative Selection is as fun to read as it is instructive (11/23/2018).

Victor Margolin and Richard Buchanan [eds.], The idea of design, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995. This stimulating collection of essays, that were originally published in Design Issues, represents a shift in the focus of design thinking from its focus on the objects of design to its increasing focus on “the psychological, social, and cultural contexts that give meaning and value to products and to the discipline of design practice.” Essays are organized in three sections: reflecting on design, the meaning of products, and design and culture.

Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco, Analog days: The invention and impact of the Moog synthesizer, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univeristy Press, 2002. “Musical instrument design is one of the most sophisticated and specialized technologies that we humans have developed [Robert Moog, p. v].” Despite its subtitle this book covers much more than the history of the Moog. It is both a cultural history of the period during which analog synthesizers changed music and the music industry and a case study in design. I wrote a review of the book for Metascience.

Herbert A. Simon, The sciences of the artificial, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996 (3rd edition). Natural science provides us with ways of understanding the biological and physical worlds, but so much of what interests us is of our own making. First published in 1969, this book introduces ways of thinking about sciences of the artificial. These in turn permit the study of that which we have created and laid on top of the natural. Economics, the psychology of thinking, learning, design, social planning, and complexity are all examined. Arguing that “in large part, the proper study of mankind is the science of design,” Simon sets out a program in design to complement the natural science curriculum.