The 5 best books for business designers

3 min


At NOBA, we love to pore over books that can help us become better business designers. The city of Barcelona also has a special relationship with books, as every April 23 the streets are filled with book stalls for World Book Day and Sant Jordi, the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day, where loved ones exchange books and roses with equal fervor. (Feel free to treat yourself to a good book and a rose too! :))

This year, we’re sharing top reads that have shaped our business philosophy at NOBA. These works cover everything from generating fresh ideas to testing them in the real world, iterating, and scaling them up to make your business succeed. But first, time to curl up in your favorite reading nook and embrace your inner bookworm.

Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World

Are you curious about the creative process behind the world’s greatest inventions? Do you ever wonder if you have what it takes to come up with the next big thing?

Design columnist Pagan Kennedy takes readers on an inspiring journey through some of the greatest inventions of history and shows that game-changing products aren’t the result of some elusive talent but are born from a mindset of creativity and problem-solving instead.

By going through these examples, you’ll discover how everyday people came up with innovative solutions to real-life problems — a process that can be applied to today’s fast-paced world too. If you’re ready to tap into your inner innovator, unleash your potential and start inventing, then don’t miss this book.

The Right It: Why So Many Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed

Alberto Savoia, Google’s first Engineering Director, guides readers through bringing an idea to market successfully by stressing the importance of building the right product before building it right. He coined the term “law of market failure” to describe why most new products and services will fail in the market, even when competently executed. Then he offers practical tools and tricks to validate your idea with real data to let it guide your decisions and test iterations until you reach a version that has the potential to succeed in the market.

If you’re interested in avoiding failure in the market and learning more about business prototyping, this one is a must-read. It includes many of the techniques that we at NOBA have used to launch successful projects.

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

Economics journalist Tim Hartford provides a refreshingly different take on failure altogether. Our society often views it as a negative outcome, but he reminds you that failure is a natural part of the learning process and that it can be harnessed to improve our ideas and achieve success — after all, “if you never try, you’ll never know.”

Through the examples in this book, you’ll learn how to use failure to your advantage and see it as an asset rather than a hurdle. So don’t let fear of failure hold you back. With the right mindset, you can learn from failure and use your learnings to adapt, iterate and improve your product until it’s practically foolproof.

The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale

While idea generation, process, failure and iteration are key to innovation, it’s important to remember that not all products and services that work on a small scale will translate to a larger market. That’s where economist John A. List comes in to break down the essential characteristics of scalable ideas — a set that he calls “high voltage” — and show how to identify them in your own work.

As List says: “Scalable ideas are all alike, every unscalable idea is unscalable in its own way.” If you’re passionate about developing new products and want to see them succeed at scale, then add this book to your reading list.

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

It’s time to bring it all together with a practical framework from entrepreneur Eric Ries that startups and big companies alike can use to develop successful products and services. He encourages readers like you to keep your eye on the prize: to build a product or service that solves a real problem and that customers are willing to pay for.

The book then teaches you how to test and refine your minimum viable product (MVP) quickly and efficiently, learn from mistakes and continuously refine your strategy so you can build a profitable business that delivers real value to your customers. Reading this indispensable guide will provide you with valuable insights and strategies that could save your business time and money.

Bonus book: The Business Prototyping Handbook

There’s no better way to finish our list than with NOBA’s very own Business Prototyping Handbook. This comprehensive manual has been months in the making and is a culmination of our expertise and methodology for testing business ideas at our agency, which just turned five years old earlier this year!

If you’ve ever wondered what business prototyping is all about, consider this book required reading. 

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*inNOBAtors: Our most precious asset, a highly qualified pool of early-adopters; non-incentivised, ready to give their opinion and eager to try innovative products.

Get in touch!

Give us a little bit of information about your project and we will contact you soon with a tailored test plan for you!