Little Bets: Summary Review

This is a summary review of Little Bets containing key details about the book.

What is Little Bets About?

Little Bets promotes the idea of small-scale experimentation (or "little bets") as a key part of the creative process. Little bets allow innovators to try new ideas with low failure costs, but potentially large rewards. The book examines successful examples of "little bets" in the business and entertainment worlds, as well as relevant social science research.

Who is the author of Little Bets?

Peter Sims is an accidental author and creative entrepreneur. His book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, was selected as one of the six best advice books for entrepreneurs by the Wall Street Journal and as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and Inc. Magazine.

What are good quotes from Little Bets?

“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.”

“What is the purpose of education? Is it to impart knowledge and facts or is it to nurture curiosity, effortful problem solving, and the capacity for lifelong learning? Educational historians have repeatedly shown that today’s schools were designed during the first half of the twentieth century to meet the demands of the industrial era, not an innovative knowledge economy. “Very few schools teach students how to create knowledge,” says Professor Keith Sawyer of Washington University, a leading education and innovation researcher. “Instead, students are taught that knowledge is static and complete, and they become experts at consuming knowledge rather than producing knowledge.” This is unacceptable. Change”

“the emphasis on linear systems, top-down control, relentless efficiency and eradicating failure left little room for creative discovery and trial and error.”

“You have to catch people making mistakes and make it so that it’s cool. You have to make it undesirable to play it safe.”
“Design is a methodology for applying critical and creative thinking to understand, visualize, and describe complex, ill-structured problems and develop approaches to solve them.”

“Two fundamental advantages of the little bets approach are highlighted in the research of Professor Saras Sarasvathy: that it enables us to focus on what we can afford to lose rather than make assumptions about how much we can expect to gain, and that it facilitates the development of means as we progress with an idea. Sarasvathy points to the value of what she calls the affordable loss principle. Seasoned entrepreneurs, she emphasizes, will tend to determine in advance what they are willing to lose, rather than calculating expected gains.”

“As education and creativity researcher and author Sir Ken Robinson puts it, “We are educating people out of their creativity.” Another major factor is that, for years, organizational management has been developing methods for increasing productivity and minimizing risk and errors that tend to stifle creative experimentation.”

“You can sit down and spend hours crafting some joke that you think is perfect, but a lot of the time, that’s just a waste of time,” Ruby explains.”

“Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t set out to create one of the fastest-growing startup companies in history; they didn’t even start out seeking to revolutionize the way we search for information on the web. Their first goal, as collaborators on the Stanford Digital Library Project, was to solve a much smaller problem: how to prioritize library searches online.”

“Unlike most CEOs, when trying something new, Jeff Bezos and his senior team (known as the S Team) don’t try to develop elaborate financial projections or return on investment calculations. “You can’t put into a spreadsheet how people are going to behave around a new product,” Bezos will say.”

“All I really wanted to do was solve an immediate problem,”

“Chris Rock, the Google founders, and Jeff Bezos and his team are examples of people who approach problems in a nonlinear manner using little bets, what University of Chicago economist David Galenson has dubbed “experimental innovators.”

― Peter Sims, Little Bets
 

Book details

  • Print length: 224 Pages
  • Genre: Business, Nonfiction, Psychology

What are the chapters in Little Bets?

Chapter 1: Big Bets Versus Little Bets
Chapter 2: The Growth Mind-set
Chapter 3: Failing Quickly to Learn Fast
Chapter 4: The Genius of Play
Chapter 5: Problems Are the New Solutions
Chapter 6: Questions Are the New Answers
Chapter 7: Learning a Little from a Lot
Chapter 8: Learning a Lot from a Little
Chapter 9: Small Wins
Chapter 10: Conclusion

What do critics say?

Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: “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

* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

 
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