About the Book

What do Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, and the story developers at Pixar films all have in common? Bestselling author Peter Sims found that all of them have achieved remarkable results using a surprisingly similar approach: methodically taking small, experimental steps. Rather than believing they have to start with a big idea or plan a whole project out in advance, trying to foresee the final outcome, they make a methodical series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins that allow them to find unexpected avenues and arrive at extraordinary outcomes.

Based on deep and extensive research, Sims discovered that productive, creative thinkers and doers—from Ludwig van Beethoven to Thomas Edison and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos—practice a set of simple but often counterintuitive experimental methods—such as failing quickly to learn fast, trying imperfect ideas, and engaging in highly immersed observation—that free their minds, opening them up to making unexpected connections and perceiving invaluable insights. These methods also unshackle them from the constraints of conventional planning, analytical thinking, and linear problem solving that our educational system overemphasizes at the expense of creativity.

Reporting on a fascinating range of research, from the psychology of creative blocks to the influential field of design thinking so prevalent in Silicon Valley, Sims offers engaging and wonderfully illuminating accounts of breakthrough innovators at work, including how Hewlett-Packard stumbled onto the breakaway success of the first handheld calculator; the ingenious storyboarding process at Pixar films that has been the key to their unbroken streak of box office successes; the playful discovery process by which Frank Gehry arrived at his critically acclaimed design for Disney Concert Hall; the aha revelation that led Amazon to pursue its pioneering affiliates program; and the U.S. Army’s innovative approach to counterinsurgency operations.

Fast paced and as entertaining as it is thought provoking, Little Bets offers a whole new way of thinking about how to break away from the narrow strictures of the methods of analyzing and problem solving we were all taught in school so that we can navigate uncertain situations and unleash our untapped creative powers.

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