Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Book review by Deane Barker
tags: business
2011
Peter Sims
224
6/10

The basic idea behind the book is that innovation is incremental, not revolutionary. You make “little bets” that change the status quo slightly, and then iterate on those, rather than wiping the slate clean and starting over.

This is not an uncommon theme. I’ve seen idea this in business, technology, personal improvement, and fitness.

My main gripe with the book is that it falls into the “Malcolm Gladwell syndrome,” where it just descends into anecdote after anecdote. One of the central stories is the history of Pixar – there’s story after story about this, to the point where you’re not sure if the author is still even talking about the central point anymore.

But here’s why he does this: because his central point is short. This is one of those books that could be a blog post, or a 10-page ebook. But you can’t sell that, so you stuff it full of stories until it’s just long enough for a mass-market title.

That’s cynical, of course. And I do what to stress that I agreed with the central theme, and it was nice to get re-acquainted with it. But the point is absolutely buried over 300-some-odd pages.

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