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Little Bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries [Hardcover]

Peter Sims
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Paperback 6.77  
MP3 CD, Audiobook 17.56  

Book Description

5 May 2011

How can errors produce perfection?

How can failure fuel ambition?

How can confusion enhance creativity?

The answer: little bets.

The little bets approach is about using negativity to positive effect. If your plans fall apart, refine them; if you don't know where best to begin, just begin somewhere. Every decision is a risk: take a chance and see what happens.

In Little Bets, leading business consultant Peter Sims turns problems on their heads and outlines a counter-intuitive path to perfection. Using real-life case studies from the worlds of business, design, warfare and even comedy, he shows that it can be more rational to act first and think later, more efficient to fail and find out what doesn't work. It's a flexible philosophy that has both saved corporate giants such as Apple and Pixar and inspired the third-world microfinancing industry.

When success is the only acceptable outcome, Little Bets advocates a bold and radical approach in which failure is good, questions are solutions, and excellence is not a means but an end.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847940471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847940476
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 521,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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 of 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')

"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 'Drive' and 'A Whole New Mind')

"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)

"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 'The Decisive Moment')

Book Description

Achieve momentous innovation by making Little Bets --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Having read and reviewed True North, a book Peter Sims co-authored with Bill George, I was curious to know what he has to say about "how breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries." I was pleased but hardly surprised that Sims has a great deal of value to share, much of it (as he duly acknowledges) gained from conversations with or rigorous study of various thought leaders and they include a few surprises. Chris Rock, for example. His routines are the result of an exhausting process of continuous (mostly failed) experiments, constant modification, and subtle refinement. Other experimental innovators and thought leaders include Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (co-founders of Google), Saras Sarasvathy, Pixar's Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, Chet Pipkin, Frank Gehry, Bing Gordon, U.S. Army Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Steve Jobs, Jeffrey Dyer and Hal Gregersen, Richard Wiseman, and Eric von Hippel.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breakthrough Ideas from small discoveries 15 Sep 2011
Little Bets is a small book at 162 pages. The rest of its 213 pages are Further Reading and Resources, Notes, Index and so on. I did not really gain much from it as I was familiar with pretty much all the content. However, it is a good general book for those who'd like to become more familiar with the creative process and innovation. It is written in simple, clear language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring read 24 Jun 2011
Excellent book, simply written and really insightful using a potfolio of real life examples.

A must for anyone wantuing to make change when change is hard, and to inspire people to keep going despite all the challenges and barriers put in front of them.

If you want to achieve something remarkable this is a great book to start with
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5.0 out of 5 stars Little and focused 19 May 2014
By Dr. Nicholas P. G. Davies TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent short book. It's divides innovators into conceptualists and experimenters. This book is very much on the side of the experimenters- it sees overarching concepts as something that can be useful- but which are often unhelpful.

The book illustrates well the idea that multiple small steps towards a goal, our even just taken out of curiosity to see what will happen, are usually the best ways to make progress. Most progress comes from small steps- that cost little, don't take long- and are basically "little bets." A little bet is a diversion you can take that may or may not work, but the worst you'll lose is some small amount of money, and a bit of time. Most ideas don't work out as planned- and often the big idea or concept emerges as an outcome of what starts off as quite a small idea or project. The key thing seems to be to know what problem you are dealing with- and to break it down into small workable chunks.

The world is largely divided between conceptual thinkers who then work out the details, and other people who work with small chunks, and eventually discover what they are really a part of. Little bets offers something to both groups. The conceptual thinkers have good ideas- but they are rarely entirely right- or exactly what customers and others need. Sometimes big visions take so long to implement that by the time they are achieved they are obsolete. A bit of work with little bets often will save such grand projects from being misdirected from the start. The experimental types will enjoy trying experiments- and won't lose too much capital or emotion in building up a magnum opus that turns out to be misdirected. The key is to learn from the experiments, and keep moving on.

This book does move on briskly and entertainingly with many good examples and ideas. I can recommend as a good little bet to readers- it won't take you long to read and you'll quickly come away with several useful ideas from it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Little Bets but great ideas! Very inspiring! 26 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book in a day and found it very inspiring - I couldn't put it down! Great examples of idea generation which challenge the traditional way we make business decisions. The real life examples demonstrate how this method can yield results in a much more fun and flexible way. It's changed the way I will test ideas going forwards - thank you Little Bets!
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