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Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,990 ratings  ·  215 reviews
What do Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, the story developers at Pixar films, and the Army Chief of Strategic Plans all have in common? Bestselling author Peter Sims found that all of them have achieved breakthrough results by methodically taking small, experimental steps in order to discover and develop new ideas. Rather than ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Free Press (first published April 5th 2011)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Clif Hostetler
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
Marc Brackett
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Ian Stewart
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lively, short book on creativity, risk-taking, feedback, and making successful products. Loved it. Really encouraging.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book little bets view our experience of things in a new way .
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.
Little Bets is based on the proposition that we can use a lot of little bets
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for more of a framework, but after reading this book it turns out that I was already doing a lot of what the author was talking about and that the framework he recommends is essentially a twist on Agile development and small iterations. Oh well, at least I didn't buy this when it was brand new and full price.
(3.0) Note: do not audiobook this because of the reader.
Boni Aditya
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology
The book is good, it is well structured. It has good reasoning, good research behind it and it is true about taking little risks while attempting to reach some huge goal. But, the book fails to create the WOW effect! I am happy that the author kept it short - with less than 250 pages - some authors pull it to 600 odd pages only because they can!

The concept is pretty straight forward, this was explained to my in a famous folklore of Indian History.

Alexander was Invading India, i.e. he was at Pun
Ricardo Garcia
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good information.
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cool concept, not very detailed--

The book's concepts are all cool and interesting.

The book combines the findings of Carow Dweck (fixed vs. growth mindsets), Eric von Hippel (active users and innovation), Csikszentmihalyi (problem finders vs. problem solvers), Richard Wiseman (being open to experiences increases your luck), and other research and innovations in psychology, economics, and business.

The concept of little bets is basically this: creative things emerge from random, non-linear, unpredi
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 years f
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.

May 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was interesting and entertaining. I liked the approach of the book and the tons of examples.
J.F. Penn
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Interesting for creatives in dealing with experimentation, failure and improving creativity. Good anecdotal examples.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What is The process of creating? How do these innovators succeed? Peter Sims, in a very affirming, non judgemental way, shines a light on these questions, by bringing understanding to the bumps and starts and ups and downs of innovation. Using humor and everyday analogies, a bit of tongue in cheek humor and candor.The author takes you into the studio of creativity, you see the messes and false starts and courage brave souls had. People from all walks of life have to take risks, small steps, face ...more
Anoop Dixith
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked the theme of this book very much! The book is divided into, in my opinion, themes and basic principles that lead to success in business and innovation, and then mounts tons of real life examples to justify them. I'd call it a near-perfect blend of "theory-example", 'near' only because the examples given are quite repetitive.

Without spoiling much, I'd summarize the themes mentioned in the book are - how a plethora of eventual gigantic products initially started out of little experimentati
Lance Willett
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Goal: Replace your linear thinking with a more experimental approach to learn faster. Do things to and discover what to do.

Key point:

Being able to create, navigate amid uncertainty, and adapt using an experimental approach will be a vital advantage.

Fundamentals of the little bets approach:

1. Experiment: Learn by doing. Fail quickly to learn fast. Develop experiments and prototypes to gather insights, identify problems, and build up creative ideas.
2. Play: A playful, improvisational, and humorous
Walter Underwood
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good information, though the writing didn't really captivate me. It does make me want to read more about Pixar and HP. The Frank Gehry section really could have used some photos.

Feel free to skip stuff, for example, I already knew the growth mindset work from Prof. Carol Dweck. And I didn't find the fMRI studies of music improvisation very convincing.

Read it for the "big bet" failures at HP and how they learned from that, plus the Pixar stuff, "We never finish a film, we just release it." This a
Edu Muniz Costa
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Provocative little book that present lots of exemples of people in any area of activities that use little trials, before doing any amazing thing. It’s a book that tell you “don’t be afraid, just try it and see what you get”.

Is that “don’t be afraid, try it” experience that takes you to the next level.

If you don’t try you have nothing to loose and nothing to win

If you wait the perfection to try you may loose lots of time and money

If you try a little thing you may loose a little but even if you
Aaron Aoyume
Well Researched And Well Written Gem

Little Bets was produced, written and published by applying exactly the lessons it conveys: be open to new opportunities, don't be afraid to fail, but fail fast to move ahead fast. It is built almost as a TV program, with key examples coming back to discussion from chapter to chapter: especially Chris Rock, Pixar, Belkin's Chet Pipkin, Hewlett Packard, Starbucks, General McMaster and the Iraq mission, and architect Frank Gehry. Those are very clever examples o
Tyler Standish
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A must read for managers, leaders, and aspiring entrepreneurs. The lessons of this book are important and deserve to be understood by all. "Invention and discovery emanate from being able to try seemingly wild possibilities, and work in the unknown; to be comfortable being wrong before being right; to live in the world as a keen observer with an openness to experiences and ideas; to play with ideas without censoring oneself or others; to persist through dark valleys with a growth mindset; to imp ...more
Tyler Roberts
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This book struck me as a superficial look at some of the main ideas in Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, as well his following book Antifragile. For those looking for more concrete examples, I would recommend this book. However, personally, I prefer books that get to the root of an idea. In other words, this book will explain the importance of making little bets through a few stories, while Taleb has already explained why it's important to make little bets, and what other implications exist for said r ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Prior to reading this book, I already had an inkling of its main idea. Plenty of business books refer to this book so I had to get myself a copy and read it. It only took me a few hours to finish it because it is less than 200 pages. The premise of the book is to make a series of little bets to gauge the effectivity of a big goal. Small wins would be a good feedback for these little bets. In other words, fail fast and fail cheap. Peter Sims gives case studies of successful companies like Pixar a ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that sticks to just one simple idea and through repetition and clear evidence shows why it is powerful. The books message is applicable to all aspects of life, not just business: big changes in life seldom come from betting the house on one gigantic change, on the contrary it is through small, selective, and containable bets that you can measure what has the best chance of success and then go all in on them.

Thoroughly enjoyable, I highly recommend it for anyone who fee
Ethan J
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
* just put a small bet on something small everyday
* it applies to so many things, like reading books as well
* gain insights from everyone, insight is everywhere, thats why diverse team are innovative
* if you wanna be presidency, you need think about a great president
* try to talk to actice users or early adopters and you will find problems
* do things to discover what to do, everything could be a small bet, like reading a book, try a new game or whatever
* the best way to predict the future is to
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