David Kelley

Academic; Writer; Executive / Product Design / United States / IDEO; d.school, Stanford University

David Kelley’s Book List

When I look over this list as a whole, I realize these were the books that trained my mind for design thinking. Through them, I found my design heroes, and they inspired me to retool my brain to be a more perceptive organ. Each one, in its own way, taught me how to approach the world with more empathy and an intrepid spirit of play. My life and work would have taken a very different path had I not read them.

1 book
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince had a big impact in my life when I was young and impressionable. It offered my earliest lessons in prototyping, iterating, and stretching your imagination:

He said, “Draw me a sheep.” So then I made a drawing.

He looked at it carefully, then he said: “No. This sheep is already very sickly.

Make me another.” So I made another drawing.

My friend smiled gently and indulgently. “You see yourself,” he said, “that this is not a sheep. This is a ram. It has horns.”

So then I did my drawing over once more. But it was rejected too, just like the others. “This one is too old. I want a sheep that will live a long time.”

By this time my patience was exhausted[...] So I tossed off this drawing. And I threw out an explanation with it. “This is only his box. The sheep you asked for is inside.”

I was very surprised to see a light break over the face of my young judge: “This is exactly the way I wanted it!”

— Excerpt from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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