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Extended Audio Sample Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries Audiobook, by Peter Sims Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (451 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Sims Narrator: John Allen Nelson Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2011 ISBN: 9781452673936
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What do Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, prizewinning architect Frank Gehry, the story developers at Pixar films, and the Army Chief of Strategic Plans all have in common? Bestselling author Peter Sims found that all of them have achieved breakthrough results by methodically taking small, experimental steps in order to discover and develop new ideas. 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 series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning from lots of little failures and from small but highly significant wins that allow them to happen upon unexpected avenues and arrive at extraordinary outcomes. Based on deep and extensive research, including more than two hundred interviews with leading innovators, Sims discovered that productive, creative thinkers and doers-from Ludwig van Beethoven to Thomas Edison and Amazon's Jeff Bezos-practice a key set of simple but ingenious experimental methods, such as failing quickly to learn fast, tapping into the genius of play, 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 overly analytical thinking and linear problem solving that our education places so much emphasis on, as well as from the fear of failure, all of which thwart so many of us in trying to be more innovative. Reporting on a fascinating range of research, from the psychology of creative blocks to the influential Silicon Valley-based field of design thinking, Sims offers engaging and wonderfully illuminating accounts of breakthrough innovators at work, including how Hewlett-Packard stumbled onto the breakaway success of the first hand-held calculator; the remarkable 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 Hall; the "aha" revelation that led Amazon to pursue its wildly successful affiliates program; and the U.S. Army's ingenious approach to counterinsurgency operations that led to the dramatic turnaround in Iraq. Fast paced and as entertaining as it is illuminating, 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 and unleash our untapped creative powers. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Diverse and uplifting---a veritable gumball machine of memorable anecdotes to inspire creativity. Kirkus
  • “A fascinating and revealing journey through the real-life dynamics of the creative process. Vividly written and bustling with examples from comedy to architecture, Little Bets is a wonderful example of itself: a big idea that takes shape through many small discoveries. I highly recommend it for anyone with a serious interest in cultivating creativity in business, education or in their own lives.”

    Sir Ken Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes

  • “Peter Sims buries the myth that big talkers with brains and big ideas move industry and science forward. This modern masterpiece demonstrates that the most powerful and profitable ideas are produced by persistent people who mess with lots of little ideas and keep muddling forward until they get it right. Little Bets is easily the most delightful and useful innovation book published in the last decade.”

    Robert I. Sutton, New York Times bestselling author of Good Boss, Bad Boss

  • “With examples that range from traditional businesses to stand-up comedians, Peter Sims shows that the path to big success is lined with small failures. Behind every breakthrough idea is often a host of experiments that flopped — and Sims shows how to leverage these ‘little bets’ to produce lasting results. This is a powerful and practical book.”

    Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive

  • “In Little Bets, Peter Sims convincingly argues that we need a new model of creativity, focused around gradual improvement and constant innovation. If you’re not learning while doing, Sims points out, then you’re probably doing it wrong.”

    Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 2/20/2014

    " While reading the first chapter, I thought that this was just a rehash of other books that I read due to the examples:Chris Rock, Mozart,Google. As I moved through the book, I was pleased that Sims had a number of fresh examples about Pixar, HP, Obama,General McMaster,the architect Frank Gehry,Steve Jobs, Tim Russert and Agile development of Software. Sims who has a VC background did a good job of interviewing and researching. The book narrative is 150 pages which to me is just right. I like that he concluded with a lengthy further reading chapter and a chapter on his sources. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 2/19/2014

    " What a great book. I found it full of excellent quotes, clarifying ideas and celebrating the path to success. The chapter on lucky vs unlucky people really resonated with me. I highly recommend this book. I love the reference chapter at the end, particularly how it has recommended twitter feeds! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 1/19/2014

    " Good book. I like the premise and reminder of looking for small connections that lead to innovation....and practicing in small arenas where you can learn from your mistakes quickly in order to move on and grow and improve. There are some great references and stories and examples of innovators who were willing to learn. I like the tie to anthropology and social science and how people use their diverse experiences to make connections and create something new, as well as the examples of people talking to and learning from everyone and then going out and making things happen and learning and adapting from there. Good ideas. "'The best way to predict the future is to invent it.' After all, life is a creative process. It all begins with one little bet. What will yours be? (p. 162)." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ana Hernandez | 1/17/2014

    " Fun read. Learn from Pixar, HP, Chris Rock, Apple, etc... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rahmad | 1/7/2014

    " This book argues for adopting an Agile-Software-Development-like approach toward the act of innovation, through making small iterations and adapting it along the way. It makes a good argument and case for it but steps on how to execute it is somewhat thin and very generic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephen | 1/4/2014

    " It seems like a such a simple concept. Take risks, but make sure they are survivable. Build on success. Simple, but presented smartly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rafael | 12/10/2013

    " Chris Rock Examples are Great "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ingus RÅ«Ä·is | 10/9/2013

    " Interesting insights into details of some very successful and game changing companies as well as US operations in Iraq. I loved the overall idea, but the book itself was a bit messy and I finished it only with some 3rd attempt. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 10/6/2013

    " I liked the thesis and the stories were simple and straightforward. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dan Graham | 9/28/2013

    " Mostly a series of aggregated stories and military analogies. Nothing beyond the idea that incremental experimentation can yield good things. It did make me want to read more about Pixar though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kumanan Murugesan | 8/7/2012

    " Intersting read. I would recommend this to my friends. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 sid | 7/11/2012

    " 15% insightful ideas, 85% filler and redundancy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 6/8/2012

    " Belabors the point. Better suited to an HBR article than a full book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phil Simon | 3/2/2012

    " Good, but not great. The book would have benefited from more material, more examples, and more analysis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 2/19/2012

    " Lots of good bits to apply in my next gig. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Umar Ghumman | 12/1/2011

    " Clear, precise and up-to-date book on creativity and success. "

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About the Author

Peter Sims is an entrepreneur and award-winning author. His book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries grew out of a five-year collaboration with faculty at Stanford’s Institute of Design (the d.school), as well as his previous work in venture capital with Summit Partners, including as part of the team that established Summit’s European Office in London. He was also the coauthor with Bill George of the bestseller True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, a member of General Electric’s Innovation Advisory Panel, an Innosight Fellow, and cofounder of Fuse Corps, a social venture that places entrepreneurial leaders on year-long grassroots projects with mayors and governors to tackle some of America’s most pressing problems.

About the Narrator

John Allen Nelson’s critically acclaimed roles on television’s 24 and Vanished are among the highlights of his twenty-five-plus years as an actor, screenwriter, and film producer. As a narrator, he won an AudioFile Earphones Award for his reading of Zoo Story by Thomas French.