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Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,745 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
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
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Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published (first published April 5th 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Clif Hostetler
Apr 25, 2013 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it
Shelves: current-events
The "little bets" referenced by the book's title are low-risk actions taken to discover, develop, and test an idea that represent a potentially better way to do something. Numerous low-risk trials can allow appropriate mid-step adjustments and changes that can improve the prospects of success. Failures that occur along the way can be accepted as positive feedback that point toward a change in direction or perhaps ending the proposed venture before large financial losses are experienced.

There's r
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Laura
Dec 06, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some take-aways that I appreciated:
- Ask people what they think before you have a professional looking model. Create something out of cardboard or duct tape (everyone's favorite). People feel more free to make recommendations or give honest input when they see it's a work in progress.

- When people provide feedback, there's no penalty. Create an atmosphere where it's okay to disagree. Humor is key. Too bad I'm not funny.

- Success hides problems. (This makes a lot of sense to me)

- When going s
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Marc Brackett
Jun 01, 2013 Marc Brackett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating little book. It pulls from numerous studies, books, and real life examples to make a most convincing case.

Overlooked I think were the differences between self identified lucky and unlucky people. The study had the two groups count the number of pictures in a newspaper. It took the unlucky group on average 2 minutes while the lucky group finished the task in seconds. What could possibly explain the difference in performance? Turns out on page two which had a picture that t
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Neil
Feb 13, 2013 Neil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally read another book. I'm really proud of myself. It only took a month to get through 160 pages.

Anyways, though, this book's fine. I like the attitude of books like this, though the content never really set me on fire -- this guy seems to have interviewed like 6 subjects and just reintroduces them constantly, especially Pixar. (Every chapter, each of which teaches a supposedly different lesson, will have a moment like "....FOR INSTANCE AT PIXAR" or "...REMEMBER AT PIXAR WHEN..."). The mes
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Evan
Aug 23, 2012 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are the kind who actively seeks out advice on how to succeed, you won't be surprised at the advice Peter Sims has given. I most certainly was delighted by how having the mindset is so vital in succeeding in your endeavors.

In this book, there are a few mindsets, namely
1) Making little bets so that you can make big bets
2) Cultivating a growth mindset - To deal with failure / obstacles
3) Being proactive - Proactively failing so that you can learn faster
4) Knowing how to play - To make each
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Brian
Apr 29, 2016 Brian is currently reading it
Note: do not audiobook this because of the reader.
John
Jun 30, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about using small failures to define the path to large successes.

It's OK to feel around in the dark with the only plan to move forward once the path becomes clear. This is not a passive strategy by any means; but it respects that you can't plot a straight course from where you are to where you want to be, and that this is acceptable.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay, technologist & inventor

I had an epiphany while reading it; I left a job of 18 yea
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Heather
Feb 16, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
Good book. I like the premise and reminder of looking for small connections that lead to innovation....and practicing in small arenas where you can learn from your mistakes quickly in order to move on and grow and improve. There are some great references and stories and examples of innovators who were willing to learn. I like the tie to anthropology and social science and how people use their diverse experiences to make connections and create something new, as well as the examples of people talk ...more
John Britto
Sep 25, 2015 John Britto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Little Bets" is good motivational book by Peter Sims. Though out this book Peter talks about how the great innovators/successors have reached that level is that they dreamt of the success at initial step itself or they started with small idea and that payed off and emerged as great thing. Entirely this was like an argument to achieve innovation in a particular way. There are so many examples that authors brings to user's consciousness like growth of Pixar, comedian Chris Rock, architect Frank G ...more
corina
Jan 17, 2012 corina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book collects a lot of design thinking principles together under the umbrella of "little bets," i.e. prototyping and the "fail early and often" idea. There are basically just a few case studies that get brought up repeatedly (Pixar, The Sketches of Frank Gehry, Chris Rock) but a smattering of interesting other research comes up too. Like how lucky people actually just are more open-minded/observant. So it's Malcolm Gladwell -esque but the fact that I found myself most skimming is a sign tha ...more
Adam R
Pretty solid book. I was brought to read it by way of So good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport (Great book). Although I thought the book had a lot of interesting ideas, it's evidence seemed anecdotal. I know with books of these nature that's a common problem and I'm not saying I need hard statistics but I think more variety in case studies (as opposed to championing Pixar over and over) would have made a better book. It like I was reading Creativity Inc, written three years earlier. A lot of ...more
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2014.

THE SOUNDVIEW REVIEW:

Rather than starting with a big idea or planning a whole project before you begin, many successful people and businesses make a methodical series of little bets. Little bets are low risk actions taken to test an idea. These little bets help determine direction while providing critical information from a n
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Mitch
Aug 23, 2014 Mitch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're interested in innovation, testing and thinking outside the box, you need to read this book. After finishing, I actually bought one for every person at Go Overseas. It tells the story of how best to innovate: Not just creating a product and hoping people like it, but making "little bets" along the way. Start small, test, and learn from your users. The book does a great job of weaving in real life stories from individuals like Chris Rock and Seinfeld, telling the story of how they come u ...more
Gregg Bell
Not much here. I heard about this book while listening to an audio book in my car. The title and the short description were intriguing to me and so I bought the book. Well, the book's not bad. It's a quick and easy read, but there's not much substance to it.

If you haven't heard or read or seen movies or... (fill in the blank) enough about Steve Jobs you might like this book. However, Steve Jobs took ENORMOUS bets at Pixar, spending countless millions for a minute or two animated video (that even
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BLACK CAT
Nov 03, 2014 BLACK CAT rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fixed vs. growth mindset (Carol Dweck): develop growth mindset.
Embrace failure and learn from it.
Don't build a whole final solution, iterate through small experiments (bets) and see what works.
Minimum viable product: prototyping, fail fast/fail forward, learn, pivot...
Be a curious person and question everything to learn more. Meet new and different people, diversity will bring creativity.
Small Wins: signs that you are on the right track.


Mark
Jan 27, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book which delves into many contexts in which people can exercise many concepts, including the concept of little bets. Yet it’s about much more than little bets. I began seeing this book more as a great overview of a powerful collection of concepts that will help people who are, or want to be, contributors to the world, while enjoying life.

There is some repetition of the little bets concepts. Yet to me, these were quite valuable because they paint a better picture of the div
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Jock Mcclees
May 09, 2014 Jock Mcclees rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good book. Only downside was that the examples came from so few companies/individuals. It makes the point that things are changing so quickly that taking a long time to design, create and build a new product or service can mean it is outdated when it is complete. If you make a series of small bets about how it should work, you can fail a lot and it won't kill you, but more importantly, you get feedback more quickly and can end up with a better product more quickly and that fits users' n ...more
Leif Denti
It's not bad, only that it could be much better. Two stars means "OK". My main issue is that the concept "Little bets" is never explained. Sure, the author uses the words "little" and "bets" all the time, but always in different contexts and situations. It's an Oprah giveaway. "Little bets" for you! And "Little bets" for you! "Little bets" for everyone! Is "Little bets"...

* To test out different ideas and hope that one of them succeed? Like Chris Rock?
* To strive to incrementally become better a
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Ivonne
I got to this book because of a long list of reads someone published for storytellers, but I found out it is more material for business entrepreneurs -though, storytellers draw great things from any kind of read, and that's my point- and I found it quite interesting and enlightening. Currently there is a lot of literature on creativity, how to make your ideas and projects a real thing and all kinds of manuals for creative people. Most of them are full of formulas that may or may not work... this ...more
Matthew
Feb 10, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really a great book, but a SHORT book with a lot of good ideas. The shortness gives it the extra star, because it is definitely worth the small investment of time it asks.

The central idea of Peter Sims' book is that perfectionism and a need to proceed with a well-defined plan hold many of us back from achieving what we could and from unleashing our creativity. Sims argues that creativity, in keeping with a "design thinking" approach, requires us to ACT in order to discover the solution we ar
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Kevin Eikenberry
This book was recommended to me by Tim Sanders during a teleseminar I hosted last month for our Remarkable Leadership Learning System Members and a few guests. When I received my copy a few days later, I opened it, and while I had other work to do, read for 20 minutes before I even realized it.

As I read more on my vacation, I was as captured as I was by the first few minutes. This book talks about an important skill for organizations and individuals – creativity and innovation – but comes at it
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Michael
Apr 24, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every time I want to hold back on trying something different or new, I need to reread this book because it explains how learning from failure is so critical to solving problems, advancing causes, and creating new business ideas.

I would have given this another star, if it weren't for the fact that this book like so many others, puts Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Virgin as the examples to follow. These companies seem to be upheld as the defacto success stories in so many of these types of books and
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Darshan Pala
This book may come out as cliched for some. Peter does a good job in carefully combining his thoughts with credible illustrations. This book came out before Ed Catmull's semi-autobiographical Creativity inc. So if you have read that book, you'll find a lot of this book "repetitive". Peter is sometimes trying too hard to sell his idea. It would have been a much better book if he balanced by giving some counter examples or giving a word of caution of his said methods. But, there is still some valu ...more
Ovi from nugget
May 17, 2016 Ovi from nugget rated it really liked it
Peter Sims: great success starts with little bets

Developing an hour-long act takes even top comedians from six months to a year.

Do you have a big idea that you’re not exactly sure how to execute?

We’re tempted to have that kind of perception about big ideas or dreams. We think we have to start off big and take big actions in order to fulfill our ambitions.

Are we right or wrong?...more
J.F. Penn
Sep 13, 2014 J.F. Penn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Interesting for creatives in dealing with experimentation, failure and improving creativity. Good anecdotal examples.
Mary
Oct 17, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting and entertaining. I liked the approach of the book and the tons of examples.
Philippe
Jan 31, 2012 Philippe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: systems-thinking
Little bets is an accessible and well-written book that straddles the fuzzy boundaries between creativity research, corporate innovation, and design thinking. Although Sims' writerly approach doesn't perceptly differ from many others in this crowded segment (à la Gladwell) there is something affectionately intelligent in his tone of voice that made me want to read on. Also in terms of subject matter, the book delivers few, if any, really novel insights. But still, I found Sims' plea for a cultur ...more
Patrik Hallberg
Oct 28, 2012 Patrik Hallberg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Was blown away by this little book. It starts with talking about Chris Rock, Brin & Page, Bezos and Beethoven and how they do things to discover what they should do. At the core little bets is an experimental approach where you take actions to discover, test and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable. The book then takes of with the section about static vs growth mindset. As a parent I found this section very valuable and I had a long discussion around this with my son Bill. Then c ...more
Pete
Nov 22, 2012 Pete rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, business
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Donatelli
Jan 12, 2013 Joe Donatelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s a wonderful book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about why some people, businesses and ideas succeed and others don’t. Sims’ theory is that taking small, methodical steps, failing often, embracing failure and then making necessary corrections has allowed successful individuals and organizations to reap unintended windfalls and achieve extroardinary outcomes.

One of the many examples Sims uses throughout the book is Chris Rock. His stand-up specials are sharp, Sims writes, bec
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FULL Creative Lib...: Little Bets 2 7 Mar 06, 2014 11:14AM  
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  • Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In
  • The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
  • Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others
  • The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion
  • Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements
  • The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge
  • What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career
  • Universal Traveler
  • Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big And Small
  • Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds
  • Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs
  • The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage
  • The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work
  • The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization
  • The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation
  • Het weekend van 7 dagen
  • The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?

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“The key is to take a larger project or goal and break it down into smaller problems to be solved, constraining the scope of work to solving a key problem, and then another key problem.
This strategy, of breaking a project down into discrete, relatively small problems to be resolved, is what Bing Gordon, a cofounder and the former chief creative officer of the video game company Electronic Arts, calls smallifying. Now a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Gordon has deep experience leading and working with software development teams. He’s also currently on the board of directors of Amazon and Zynga. At Electronic Arts, Gordon found that when software teams worked on longer-term projects, they were inefficient and took unnecessary paths. However, when job tasks were broken down into particular problems to be solved, which were manageable and could be tackled within one or two weeks, developers were more creative and effective.”
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“At the beginning of any new idea, the possibilities can seem infinite, and that wide-open landscape of opportunity can become a prison of anxiety and self-doubt. This is a key reason why failing fast with low-risk prototypes the way Chris Rock does is so helpful: If we haven’t invested much in developing an idea, emotionally or in terms of time or resources, then we are more likely to be able to focus on what we can learn from that effort than on what we’ve lost in making it. Prototyping is one of the most effective ways to both jump-start our thinking and to guide, inspire, and discipline an experimental approach.” 0 likes
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