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Little Bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries

by Peter Sims, 2012

· Book Review

This reference provides a step-wise process that encourages people who have big ideas to start small. It’s based on the proposition that little bets are made up of concrete actions that enable us to progress by exploring and discovery.

The chapter headings tell it all.. from growth mindset, to failing fast to learn, incorporating play into idea development, learning to ask the ‘right’ questions, to acknowledging small wins… This could be the manifesto for anyone wanting to go from where there are now to an entrepreneur.

A key message – while you have big dreams, start small and keep on learning to develop your project. Long live the ‘BETA’ experimental testing approach to project development.

 “Little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable.”

He also refers to two types of innovators- the conceptual and the experimental innovators. He sites Mozart as a conceptual innovator as he pursued bold new ideas. We would class him as a rare prodigy. So for the rest of us we can use experimental and the iterative, trial-and-error approach to gradually build up our ideas.

“Experimental innovators must be persistent and willing to accept failure and setbacks as they work toward their goals.”

With lots of case studies to help explain the concepts, while these maybe mainstream now, it’s a great read and reminder of the power of focusing on what you can afford to lose rather than what you expect to gain.

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