The "little bets" referenced by the book's title are low-risk actions taken to discover, develop, and test an idea that represent a potentially better way to do something. Numerous low-risk trials can allow appropriate mid-step adjustments and changes that can improve the prospects of success. Failures that occur along the way can be accepted as positive feedback that point toward a change in direction or perhaps ending the proposed venture before large financial losses are experienced.
There's really nothing all that new in the concept of little bets. It's actually describing the logical approach to new ventures whether in one's personal life or in business. What is new in this book are the stories, examples and cases used to illustrate the concept in a variety of domains and differing perspectives. The author's journalistic skills in reporting on these examples make the book an interesting and entertaining read. The following are some of the examples cited in this book:
- The humor publication The Onion
- Stand-up comedian Cris Rock
- Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos
- Film company Pixar and Steve Jobs
- Micro lending developed by Muhammed Yunu of Grameen Bank
- Television newscaster Tim Russert
- Architect Frank Gehry
The book's narrative follows a circular pattern where many of these examples are repeatedly revisited in subsequent chapters as they are viewed from different points of view. Forty percent of the book is taken up by notes and index. The Notes section includes some fairly lengthy elaborations which are interesting stories in themselves.