Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Small Book with a Big Message

Just before the start of summer reading and my probable selection of novels on the beachy side, I was strolling among the non-fiction aisles and found Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries. Full disclosure: it was the bright chartreuse cover - a color that I love and can't wear - that first caught my eye.

Business writer Peter Sims' basic thesis is that creative innovation can best be achieved by continuing to try a series of small steps - petite forays into the unknown or the untried - some destined to be successful, some destined to fail.

The big idea is rarely a mega-watt bulb emblazoned with BRILLIANT in 48 point letters. Those that are waiting for something big are often unwilling or unable to move forward in small but ultimately significant directions. Hopefully Little Bets will change that way of thinking.

In his stack of small is powerful examples, Sims provides some wonderful back stories on individuals and companies that are as familiar as comedian Chris Rock, architect Frank Gehry, Bill Hewlett of Hewlett Packard and the wonderful teamwork responsible for the phenomenally creative process at Pixar.
Less familiar but equally compelling are the stories of Richard Tait who developed the board game Cranium, the actions of General McMaster stationed in Iraq and Muhammad Yunus, an economics professor in India who developed the Grameen Bank, a pioneer in microlending.

Best of all, the illustrations of the creative problem solving process can easily be applied to everything outside a box labeled business.

If Little Bets sparks your curiousity, other titles that can get you thinking about innovative thinking are Join The Club by Tina Rosenberg and In The Plex by Steven Levy.

- RR @RR

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