Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Apr 19, 2011 - Business & Economics - 224 pages
5 Reviews
“An enthusiastic, example-rich argument for innovating in a particular way—by deliberately experimenting and taking small exploratory steps in novel directions. Light, bright, and packed with tidy anecdotes” (The Wall Street Journal).

What do Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, and the story developers at Pixar films all have in common? Bestselling author Peter Sims found that rather than start with a big idea or plan a whole project in advance, they make a methodical series of little bets, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins.

Reporting on a fascinating range of research, from the psychology of creative blocks to the influential field of design thinking, Sims offers engaging and illuminating accounts of breakthrough innovators at work, and a whole new way of thinking about how to navigate uncertain situations and unleash our untapped creative powers.

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I am a University of Baltimore student enrolled in the survey Entrepreneurship course and this was my recommended reading. Over the course of reading, I actually found the book to be very interesting. The book focuses on using little bets to start off small so one may not risk losing everything. Also, it can help with the development of creativity and learning that failure as an entrepreneur isn’t a bad thing at all! What I liked about the book was, Peter Sims used an array of different people to help his audience understand the key concepts mentioned in the book. For instance, he talks about the transition of Pixar on how it started off as a computer hardware company before it turned into a film company. He also discusses how Chris Rock uses feedback from his audiences to develop new ideas or concepts for stand-up acts. As an entrepreneur student, it is easier for me to learn how to become a great entrepreneur by learning how others started his or her business and the methods they use to keep that business running or start new ones. The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was it felt like I was reading the same thing paraphrased, which caused me to lose interest at times. However, I can say that the book can be useful to other entrepreneurship students. It can help them learn some concepts that will be beneficial to the start of a business, or their very own! 

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This is a great little book. Experimentation is the key to innovation and progress, and you have to be willing to make acceptable risks in order to move forward. Or as one of my friends is fond of saying, "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything." Easy to read, encouraging, and illuminating, with references to great examples (especially Pixar) and studies. Highly recommended. 

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Big Bets Versus Little Bets
The Growth Mindset
Failing Quickly to Learn Fast
The Genius of Play
Problems Are the New Solutions
Questions Are the New Answers
Learning a Little from a Lot
Learning a Lot from a Little
Small Wins

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About the author (2011)

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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