There is a great post over on Presentation Zen on the signal to noise ratio.
One of the coolest, most useful books I have on my shelf is Universal Principles of Design. This is a beautifully simple book and one that is immensely useful, a must for professionals and leaders from any discipline. The subtitle of the book pretty much sums it up: "100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design." Even trained designers will want this book somewhere on their shelf.