Most of these references are pulled from the Bibliography of The Dog Barks When the Phone Rings: An Engineer's Guide to Solving Problems.

For convenience, I have added links to Amazon's listing of most books, where available.  Typically, you can use this resource to browse some of the book content.  Purchasing decisions are up to you.

Great Books for any technical person or their managers

Great Books for Electrical or Electro-Mechanical Designers

Here is one additional reference that is worth a look. Some folks might find the topic too dry or too peripheral to design, but this book earned a spot on my bookshelf:

Engineering Failure
If you really want to understand good design, you have study failures, not successes.  I have encountered some really good books on this subject. Another source of similar information is to read the NASA reports on their shuttle accidents.

Professional Troubleshooting

There are some other folks out there who teach formal problem-solving for engineers and managers. The gold-standard for larger organizations must be Kepner-Tregoe. I have never attended training by Kepner-Tregoe, but I have read various works published by their organization.

You can also find out more about their training and services at:

During my research, I encountered the book listed below by David Jonassen, who dives deeply into the question of how one should teach problem-solving to engineers. He has published extensively on this topic.


After I finished writing the first draft of The Dog Barks When the Phone Rings: An Engineer's Guide to Solving Problems, my friend and former manager, Dr. Lauren Christopher told me that she was teaching a class from a book that seemed similar to a brief description she had read of my book.  I purchased a copy of the book she referenced only to find that David Agans’ book Debugging runs deeply parallel to the intent, style, and structure of what I have written.

I was both thrilled and stunned. I was thrilled because it meant that I was probably describing something reasonable. Stunned, because I had never seen anyone else commit such familiar ideas into writing. I must therefore acknowledge that I am not the first to offer such notions. Where Agans tells “war stories,” I mostly tell “fairy tales.” Where I say, “If I could see it, I could fix it,” Agans tells readers to stop thinking and start looking.

I recommend that you treat Agans’ book and An Engineer's Guide to Solving Problems as bookends on your debugging shelf. These books share some similar concepts, presented differently by different authors. I confess to really liking Agans’ book. A lot.