The Little Bets Book

I have just finished reading a wonderful book called Little Bets by Peter Sims — How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries.

In this book he gives numerous case studies of how many successful people from comedians to business people who approach solving problems in a non-linear way using what he calls little bets.

Peter Sims describes Little Bets like this:

Little Bets is based on the proposition that we can use a lot of little bets and certain creative methods to identify possibilities and build up great outcomes.

At the core of this experimental approach, little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable.

They begin as creative possibilities that get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularly valuable when trying to navigate amid uncertainty, create something new, or attend to open-ended problems (page 11).

The advantages of little bets or small wins

I love the little bets approach or what I (and others) call small wins.

I have taken it further by applying it to innovation and developing a specific process and tool called Ideas Blitz.

Some of the many advantages of a small wins approach to innovation include:

– Small wins can have a big impact over time.

– It helps people to get started.

Trying to get fit for example is very difficult but the best way is to simply make a start by going for a walk today.

Sometimes big goals or challenges are too big and daunting so a kind of paralysis sets it.

Small wins is about taking action.

This is particularly important for innovation.

Innovation needs to be actioned rather than continually being planned or talked about.

– Small wins can help people take smarter, smaller, faster risks.

– Small wins can build confidence, momentum and progress.

Indeed research by Professor Teresa Amabile suggests that making progress towards meaningful goals is perhaps the most powerful way for leaders to motivate their team.

– Small wins can be an end in themselves and as a means to reach a bigger goal.

In a another blog I talked about the importance of thinking big yet taking small steps.

Small wins are a way to keep moving towards a bigger goal e.g. think of losing a few pound one week then building on this the next week and so on.

– Small wins provide a technique to validate and adapt ideas and to provide clarity amid uncertainty (page 100 of Little Bets).

– Small wins can highlight places and times to change and pivot (page 100 of little Bets).

– A Small wins approach encourages managers, leaders and business owners to take a greater ownership of innovation & growth.

It provides a way for everyone to solve problems or challenge the status quo — everyday.

– Small wins can also have a big impact on an organisation’s culture.

Suddenly everyone can play their part and contribute their ideas.

In fact, many of the best solutions come from the most unexpected of places and people.

It also means that small problems can be solved before they turn into bigger ones.

– Building a more creative and innovative team and culture becomes a lot more attainable.

– It allows people to discover new ideas, strategies or plans through an emergent process rather than trying to fully formulate them before they begin (page 101).

This is the complete opposite of the command, planning and control planning process that has been used in the past.

Small wins encourages you to try something, see what happens and be flexible enough to see where it might take you.

In short, small wins is a non-linear process that is ideally suited for a fast-moving non-linear world.

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