LITTLE BETS by Peter Sims


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Small, calculated risks lead to game-changing innovation in this collection of case studies from the co-author of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (2007).

Readers who wonder how Amazon reached its first $10 billion quarter while Borders filed for bankruptcy will want to read this guide to sustainable growth culled from interviews with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and 200 other leaders in innovation. According to Sims, Amazon developed its Associates program, which rewards other websites for sending buyers to Amazon, using the same method of trial and error that comedian Chris Rock uses to hone his stand-up routine. The key, as the title suggests, is to make a series of little bets that turn small losses into big wins over time. The author draws from a wide range of sources, from micro-lending to military operations, to illustrate the creative process that turned Pixar from a struggling computer-hardware company into a popular animated-film company and inspired architect Frank Gehry to build the spectacular Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Citing the wisdom of Everett Rogers, who coined the term "early adopters," and contemporary thinkers like Silicon Valley's Eric Ries, Sims packs a lot of scholarly research into a short number of pages and comes up a little disjointed. But the back stories are impressive. By showing how experimentation has been instrumental not just in Silicon Valley, but all over the world and long before the Internet, Sims' research could inspire even the stodgiest corporation to take a risk.

Diverse and uplifting—a veritable gumball machine of memorable anecdotes to inspire creativity.

Pub Date: April 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-7042-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2011


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