Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries Hardcover – Apr 19 2011
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"Little Bets is a timely and compelling book that will change the way you think, a roadmap to success in the 21st century. And, a very enjoyable read." (Peter Georgescu, former CEO of Young & Rubicam)
"A fascinating and revealing journey through the real-life dynamics of the creative process. Vividly written and bustling with examples from comedy to architecture, Little Bets is a wonderful example of itself: a big idea that takes shape through many small discoveries. I highly recommend it for anyone with a serious interest in cultivating creativity in business, education or in their own lives." (Sir Ken Robinson, New York Times bestselling author ofThe Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes)
"I have always believed that constant innovation is core to success. The methods Peter Sims provides in the highly engaging Little Bets will help you challenge the status quo and discover extraordinary new possibilities in whatever endeavor you're engaged in." (Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO, Starbucks)
“Want a big idea? Start little. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an artist, Peter Sims shows you how big breakthroughs start with little bets.” (Chip Heath, author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard)
“I really can't say enough about this book; Little Bets rings so true to my own experience at Teach For America. Peter Sims does a huge service by showing the world how big entrepreneurial and innovative successes come to be -- and in the process reveals ways of thinking that aren't the product of anything elusive or enigmatic but rather of traits we can all learn and foster, such as openness, inquisitiveness, and perseverance.” (Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach for America)
“Peter Sims buries the myth that big talkers with brains and big ideas move industry and science forward. This modern masterpiece demonstrates that the most powerful and profitable ideas are produced by persistent people who mess with lots of little ideas and keep muddling forward until they get it right. Little Bets is easily the most delightful and useful innovation book published in the last decade.” (Robert I. Sutton, Professor, Stanford University, New York Times bestselling author of Good Boss, Bad Boss)
"With examples that range from traditional businesses to stand-up comedians, Peter Sims shows that the path to big success is lined with small failures. Behind every breakthrough idea is often a host of experiments that flopped — and Sims shows how to leverage these "little bets" to produce lasting results. This is a powerful and practical book." (Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive)
“In Little Bets, Peter Sims convincingly argues that we need a new model of creativity, focused around gradual improvement and constant innovation. If you're not learning while doing, Sims points out, then you're probably doing it wrong.” (Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide)
“Peter Sims’ exciting new book, Little Bets,is replete with stunning insights about innovation and the remarkable benefits of backing many creative initiatives that yield the big breakthrough. Corporate leaders everywhere can benefit from his sound advice.” (Bill George, Professor, Harvard Business School and Author, True North)
"'Little Bets' is a big idea. Here's my bet: if you're passionate about innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, you need to read this book!" (Alan M. Webber, Co-Founding Editor, Fast Company magazine, Author, Rules of Thumb)
About the Author
Peter Sims is the coauthor with Bill George of the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestselling book True North. His work has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and TechCrunch and he is a contributor to the Reuters and Harvard Business Review blogs. He received an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School where he and several classmates established a popular course on leadership. He has spoken or advised at such organizations as Cisco Systems, Eli Lilly, Current Media, Molson Coors, Qualcomm, and Frost & Sullivan. Previously, Peter worked in venture capital with Summit Partners, a leading investment company, and was part of the team that established the firm’s London Office.
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Top Customer Reviews
As Sims explains, his book's proposition is based on an experimental approach that involves a lot of little bets and certain creative methods to identify possibilities and build up to great outcomes eventually, after frequent failures. (Actually, experimental innovation has no failures; rather, there are initiatives that have not as yet succeeded, each of which is a precious learning opportunity.) "At the core of this experimental approach, little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable. They begin as creative possibilities that get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularly valuable when trying to navigate amid uncertainty, create something new, or attend to open-ended problems.Read more ›
I found all of the studies cited incredibly informative. Especially the one on how people perceive luck and the micro-loan nobel prize winner. Little bets is not a step by step methodology on any specific task or working field. It is a philosophy to be used as an approach to many tasks in life and especially product creation. It can be compared closely to the different between Waterfall development and Agile development. It then extends further into making all innovation, management, marketing more agile.
Will definitely be purchasing copies for colleagues and friends.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That said, most of the time when I flipped the page and saw the referenced person - Muhammad Yunnus, General McMaster, or Malcolm Gladwell - as I reader of Tom Ricks' Fiasco, Banker to the Poor, The Tipping Point, and books on Lean Start-Up and Customer Development, I already knew where the author was headed and was left underwhelmed.
I'm not usually moved to review books on Amazon, however, I honestly believe the book is overrated as it stands with a lot of four and five star reviews. The book has a great title that certainly drew me in, yet I didn't find anything groundbreaking inside.
I often measure content I consume according to how much I think about it the next day. This book left me with a number of outstanding insights that I apply consistently.
Sims explains that when it comes to getting great work out of people be the student a coworker or yourself, the key seems to be to praise people for *effort* that they put in rather than merely praising them for their outcomes. It seems silly given that context to say that this book achieves great things but it does!
The book is well researched, and draws from a number of different fields. While many business books focus solely on one industry or one school of thought, Sims draws from an incredibly diverse palette to establish some consistent themes. We hear stories from comedians, military leaders, filmmakers, architects, and even a few entrepreneurs.
The key insight from this book is to treat life is an experiment where failure teaches as much a success. If you can scale your bets to the right size (a.k.a. little) is show that failures are less painful and allow course corrections. You can then place larger bets on things that will be successful. Trust me on this little bet -- buy the book.
It seems like the publisher noticed the book was a bit light, so they've added page after page of notes, references, resources to explore, etc; nearly 30% of the book is puff. Frankly, you could go to the author's Q&A page on Amazon, read the interview, and have all the ideas and value of the book for 5 minutes reading, and $0. Save your time and your money on this one.
As Sims explains, his book's proposition is based on an experimental approach that involves a lot of little bets and certain creative methods to identify possibilities and build up to great outcomes eventually, after frequent failures. (Actually, experimental innovation has no failures; rather, there are initiatives that have not as yet succeeded, each of which is a precious learning opportunity.) "At the core of this experimental approach, little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable. They begin as creative possibilities that get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularly valuable when trying to navigate amid uncertainty, create something new, or attend to open-ended problems."
Constant experimentation ("learn by doing") is fundamental to this approach, as indicated, as are a playful, improvisational, and humorous environment; immersion in unfamiliar situations, localities, circumstances, etc.; definition of specific questions to answer, specific problems to solve, specific objectives to achieve, etc.; flexibility amidst ambiguity and uncertainty in combination with a willingness to accept reorientation; and, as indicated, constant iteration (reiteration?) to test, evaluate, refine, test again, etc. Those who are curious wish to understand what works. Experimental innovators have an insatiable curiosity to know what works (or doesn't), why it works (or doesn't), and how it can be improved.
It is important to understand that, as Sims explains, "we can't plot a series of small wins in advance, we must use experiments in order for them to emerge." That is, conduct lots (I mean LOTS) of small experiments (betting small amounts of hours and dollars) and then, as small (modest) "wins" occur, increase the "bet" and see what happens...or doesn't. This process is iterative and never ends. The fundamental advantages are obvious. It allows people to discover new whatevers through an emergent, organic process of frugal but sufficient investments, and, it allows for all manner of adjustments (course corrections, additions/deletions, increases/reductions, etc.) at any point throughout the process.
If your organization is in need of breakthrough ideas, why don't you provide them? Peter Sims provides in this book just about everything you need to know to understand the process and what must be done to initiate and then sustain it. However, the discoveries cannot be made until the experiments occur. If not you, who? If not now, when?
Making little bets is about doing little tests. Try something. Get feedback. Refine. Get more feedback. The creative process is a hands-on experiment. Lasting, reproducible success comes from small corrections over time. The feedback you get from making little bets leads to the best outcomes... the ones you didn't and couldn't predict.
I was fortunate to get my hands on an advance proof of "Little Bets" and was hooked from the introduction. Having been a courtroom criminal defense lawyer for more than a decade, having built and sold a successful tech company, and now working on my second tech start-up, this book spoke to me. Although I didn't know what to call it at the time, my successes in the courtroom and in business came from taking a little bets approach.
If you are creative (especially if you work in corporate America), this book will probably solidify what you already know in your heart and give you the tools, confidence and case-studies to challenge the status quo. If you manage creative people, you can't afford to overlook this remarkable book. And if you're a parent, or teacher, or coach, or community leader, this book will give you tools that will make a world of difference to those who look up to you.
Do yourself a favor. Order this book now.
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