Innovation book review: Little Bets by @petersims

Little Bets by Peter Sims

“The side that learns and adapts the fastest often prevails.” – General David Petraeus

You can’t mess with evolution. That’s the message I got from the book Little Bets by Peter Sims.

If you are well versed with the state of current innovation thinking, you will find that the main ideas are heavily influenced by design thinking. This is not a recipe book for design thinking. There are no how to’s. It’s strength lies in it’s synthesis of the main principles of experimental innovation. Today, more commonly known as design thinking.

It’s a well written and engaging book. I read Little Bets in a little over 6 hours. It’s a short read but entertaining read.

What stands out about the book is the distinctive stories and characters Mr. Sims uses to illustrate the main ideas. For example, how Chris Rock tests new jokes in small venues with small audiences before taking them to bigger events. This helps him tests and refine jokes that he knows will resonate with audiences at bigger events. The story of how Pixar’s Toy Story begun from little bets. How the the success of the U.S. Military’s ‘Surge Strategy’ is influenced by Design Thinking.

All very entertaining stories that you would not think took such an approach to achieve their goals. Also, Mr. Sims practices what he preaches. He took the Little Bets approach when writing and pitching the book. Nice one!

As someone who lives experimentation, the ideas are not new. Making little bets is about doing little tests. Try something. Get feedback. Refine. Get more feedback. The creative process is a hands-on experiment.

With that said, if you are just getting your feet in the innovation door, you should definitely read this book. I can’t help suggesting that after you’ve finished reading it, read Disrupt by Luke Williams on how to put these principles into practice.


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