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

Peter Sims
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jan 2012

How did Pixar go from producing CAT scan images to winning Oscars?

How did Steve Jobs turn Apple into a world-beating company?

How does Amazon's culture encourage innovation?

How can you find the creative solutions demanded by our ever-changing world?

The answer, according to renowned business thought-leader Peter Sims, is LITTLE BETS. In these fast-moving times, it's next to impossible to predict what's around the corner, and harder still to formulate a foolproof plan to deal with it. Truly innovative companies, Sims argues, don't get caught up in projections and predictions. Instead, they embrace uncertainty, take a chance, fail quickly and learn fast.

This method has formulated thousands of modern advances, from Google's PageRank to Starbucks coffee shops - if you harness its power, what could you achieve?

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Little Bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries + The Science of Serendipity: How to Unlock the Promise of Innovation
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847940498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847940490
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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)

"An enthusiastic, example-rich argument for innovating in a particular way" (Wall Street Journal)

"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 Made to Stick and Switch)

"Little Bets is easily the most delightful and useful innovation book published in the last decade" (Robert I. Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss)

"Put [t]his book on your reading list" (TechCrunch)

Book Description

Achieve momentous innovation by making Little Bets

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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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 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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book 23 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a good book with some interesting ideas. Overall I enjoyed reading it. My only complaint would be that the author is sometimes unnecessarily wordy or repetitious, especially towards the end of the book.
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