Little Bets Podcast Transcription


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This is a transcription of the Business901 podcast, Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things podcast with Peter Sims the author of the book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.

Peter Sims is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He was the coauthor with Bill George of the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestselling book True North . His articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Tech Crunch, The Financial Times, and as an expert blogger for Fast Company.

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Little Bets Podcast Transcription

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing SystemsUsing Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Guest was author, Peter Sims Related Podcast: Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsPeter Sims is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He was thecoauthor with Bill George of the Wall Street Journal andBusinessWeek bestselling book True North . His articles haveappeared in Harvard Business Review, Tech Crunch, The FinancialTimes, and as an expert blogger for Fast Company. Sims explains, his books proposition is based on an experimental approach that involves a lot of little bets and certain creative methods to identify possibilities and build up to great outcomes eventually, after frequent failures. (Actually, experimental innovation has no failures; rather, there are initiatives that have not as yet succeeded, each of which is a precious learning opportunity.) "At thecore of this experimental approach, little bets are concreteactions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that areachievable and affordable. They begin as creative possibilitiesthat get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularlyvaluable when trying to navigate amid uncertainty, createsomething new, or attend to open-ended problems."It is important to understand that, as Sims explains, "we cantplot a series of small wins in advance, we must use experimentsin order for them to emerge." That is, conduct lots (I mean LOTS)of small experiments (betting small amounts of hours and dollars)and then, as small (modest) "wins" occur, increase the "bet" andsee what happens...or doesnt. This process is iterative and neverends. The fundamental advantages are obvious. It allows peopleto discover new whatevers through an emergent, organic processof frugal but sufficient investments, and, it allows for all mannerof adjustments (course corrections, additions/deletions,increases/reductions, etc.) at any point throughout the process. Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe Dager: Welcome, everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host ofthe Business 901 podcast. With me today is Peter Sims. Peter isthe author of the new book, "Little Bets." And a great book formy audience, because I felt like it really talked about the iterativecycles, but in a much different manner than what we normallytalk about them. Peter, if you could just give me a bit about yourbackground and introduce yourself for me, I would appreciate it.Peter Sims: Sure, Joe, thank you for having me. You know, Iam an accidental author. I co-authored the book, "True North,Discover Your Authentic Leadership" with Bill George, the formerCO of Medtronic, after business school. Its all about how to,basically, be an authentic leader. We interviewed people rangingfrom Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, to Chuck Schwab, toall kinds of COs about how they learn from their key experiences,in their careers and their life. Before that, I was in venturecapital, where I worked with summit partners, like Growth EquityInvestment Firm, meaning, we invested in companies that weregrowing, profitable companies, companies that oftentimes beenbootstrap, self-funded by the founders, to the point where theyhad, say, 10 million in revenue or more. They were going places,but they needed a boost to get to the next level.So, I had the opportunity, through that experience, to work in theU.S. and Europe with founders who literally started theirbusinesses with a credit card, and were able to identify anddevelop opportunities and ideas, in, oftentimes, extremelyimpressive ways, companies who would go on to be worth abillion dollars or more. Also got to see hundreds and hundreds ofexamples of companies that just did very mediocre, didnt do wellat all.Id always been inspired and interested in the way entrepreneursthink, and ended up deciding to write this book after "TrueNorth," because I felt like there were a number of movementsstarting around how to think in this iterative way, this Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsexperimental, iterative way, including Lean and the customerdevelopment model, and agile. Then also, the field of designthinking, which has sort of blossomed starting with Apple, theway Apple develops its ideas through an iterative process, andthen has expanded outwards from there.I became immersed in these different ways of thinking, whether itwas design, Lean, or also, just looking at how -- we interviewedover 200 innovators and creators for the book -- how people,ranging from military counterinsurgency strategists to people whoare standup comedians like Chris Rock to folks like Jeff Bezos atAmazon, or Pixar film makers work.What weve found is that they work in extremely similar ways,surprisingly similar way, actually, at the end of the day. It startswith this idea of using little bets, these small, achievable steps totry to discover and develop out new opportunities and ideas.Joe: I have to compliment you on the book, because what I tookfrom it is, I see what I would call, and I think you referred to itearlier as the "tactical side" of PDCA and of iterations with Scrum.But you told stories about people, and people that were iterativepeople, just about, or organizations were. It was just a greatread, and its hard for everything to be tactical all the time.Peter: Oh, right, no, thank you so much, Joe. Yes, there is amethod to the madness, but its more than just a set of tactics.Its a mindset, in addition to that. So there are a lot of examplesin the book. For example, if Chris Rock is developing a newroutine, he has to put himself out there night after night in smallclubs. He has to fail, most of the time, until hes able to hit onthose jokes that are, like, the lightning bolts that he built his actaround. That requires him to have a mindset that says, "OK, Imwilling to put myself out there and to fail." Well, then, we look atin the book, research to show how do you become morecomfortable with failure? How do you become more comfortable Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemswith setback? There is a lot of good psychology and neuroscienceresearch to support that approach to doing whatever youredoing, whether its agile or any form of agile, or any type ofcreation that youre doing, like Chris Rock does.Joe: I can understand a person being able to do that, but thatsreally got to be tough for an organization to sit there and say,"Im going to go out fail and learn from it," thats got to be tough,and I think you name some in there, but what did you find outabout organizations? Was it just all leadership driven that causedthat?Peter: Well, I think the most important factor is to have theculture of the organization open to discovery when theyre doingsomething new. Amazon is a great example of it, where JeffBezoss philosophy is that you cant put into a spreadsheet howpeople are going to behave around a new idea. He has to go outand make small bets, to figure out whats going to work andwhats not. The whole culture at Amazon is oriented around thatbelief. I mean, they have, on their reviews, people areencouraged to experiment. Its a value for the culture itssomething they talk about in all their meetings: "Have weexperimented? Have we gotten out, tried this and get some moreinformation, get some more data? How are we going to create theknowledge we dont have?"So its a value there, and I think, in the organizations that aremore risk averse, it takes enlightened leadership at the top tomake any type of change. But my hope is that anyone can makea little bet. Any organization can make more little bets, and so Iread about Procter & Gamble shifting more to that type ofculture, state department, I met and talked with a lot of peoplethere. General Motors, same thing. I mean, they all aregravitating towards this type of approach, because its achievableand less risky. Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBut its hard, its extremely hard.Joe: What comes out at me is, in this world of technology, thisworld of data, this, all this information we have now, it seems likewere all going back to hypothesis and experimentation. Whatswrong with all the stuff weve been learning for these last years?Peter: Oh, thats interesting. I mean, yeah, I mean, we have inour, kind of, management training, MBA training, weve becomevery focused on having predictable answers before we doanything new. So anytime you put together a plan, it has to beplanned out, it has to be, you have to be able to analyze what theopportunities are, what the risks are. You have to be able to lookout five years and say, "OK, this is what our expected valuesgoing to be if we do this step," or if we take, if we do thisinitiative. That is extremely limiting, because most of the time,we just dont know what we dont know. I call it the illusion ofrationality; weve got these skills and this mindset thats verylinear, right? You sort of pick an end point and then work yourway backwards to the beginning and you really cant predict whatlies in between point A and point B most of the time, especiallywhen youre on an uncertainty, or doing something new.My hope is that we can start thinking more along the lines of littlebets and discovery, because thats really the only way that Ivebeen able to find people to be able to navigate when theyredoing something completely new or uncertain.Yet we never learn how to think like that. Its just neveremerged, in my education right through business flow intoStanford business school, never got taught to go out in the worldand prototype ideas and immerse to try to find where theopportunities are going to be in, you know, whether its acustomer or just out in the world looking for possibilities. Yet thisis how innovators and creators actually work. Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: How do customers react to these little bets? I mean, theyare the ones that are at the brunt of some of these failures,arent they?Peter: Well, thats right. I mean, when Procter & Gamble goesout to show a new idea, in the past, they had to have everythingperfect. What executives there told me, including Chris Thoenwho runs the innovation; open innovation for P&G is that, in thepast, when they did that, nobody really gave them muchfeedback. Nobody gave them much insight, because the ideaalready looked pretty perfect. Well, now when they go out andthe idea is more of a rough prototype, a cardboard, you know,duct tape. Its so crude, its so basic, its so flawed that thecustomer says, "Well, I understand that this is not finished. Iunderstand that Im being shown this to get my reactions." Theyfeel like theyre a part of the process, and they feel much moreengaged and likely to provide their actual thought, their opinion,like, "This is how I actually think about this idea."So, as Thoen puts it, the barriers to receiving feedback are justmuch lower, just as the barriers to giving feedback are muchlower on the customer end. So, a person putting together theidea is no longer completely attached to that idea, because theyknow its just a rough prototype. So theyre not fighting to getthat to the finish line, necessarily, theyre trying to learn as theygo, and then the customers feel like theyre empowered to be apart of the process, part of the co-creation process.I guess you could say the same thing would apply to Chris Rock. Imean, the audience members recognize that, especially thedie-hard comedy audiences in small clubs, they recognize thatthis is how all standup comedians have to develop their ideas. Sotheres a permission to provide that type of feedback.Joe: Well, you talk about some real heavyweights in the books. Imean, when youre sitting here talking about Pixar, and youre Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemstalking about HP, and youre talking about the Obama campaignand things like that, that really, this is at a pretty high level. Thisisnt just the basic entrepreneur doing these things.Peter: Its an approach that can be used by anyone, as Ivesaid. In the case of HP, I mean, HP had, for many years, they hadmentality of making small bets when they were trying to discovernew opportunities. A lot of that came from co-founder BillHewitts belief that they had to make roughly 100 small bets toget to roughly six breakthrough ideas. So he understood that itwas a process. He understood, he actually had to take actionbecause you couldnt predict, a lot of times, whether some ideawas going to work or not. So the first HP calculator, the HP-35,came out in 1972, it was priced at $400, which at the time, wasroughly $2,000 in todays terms. Nobody thought it was going tosell. They did market research; they contracted out to the leadingmarket research firm at the time. They said, this thing cant sell,because they were competing with very inexpensive slide rules.Bill Hewitt, on the other hand, had spent the day with somebodyon an airplane where the guy said to him, you know, after seeingthe calculator, "I really like this. This is an amazing idea. Youknow, I would buy one."So Hewitt just used that kernel of an insight and said, "Why dontwe just try a thousand?" So they build a thousand of thesecalculators and within five months they were selling a thousand aday. I mean, it was the fastest growing product in HPs history.You know, that was the mentality. That was the way they thoughta lot about innovation, kind of bottom up innovation. Companygrew for something like 18 percent a year for 60 years. You justcant argue with that.Joe: Did you just make little stories, little chapters out of all thiswhen you made the book? Did you make your own little bets Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbook up and then collected them all? What was the thinkingprocess in the book?Peter: Well, I wanted it to be a great book. I wanted it to be abook that was extremely well researched. So what you see is atthe top of an iceberg. The starting point is... I think of it as aniceberg because the story that I share, or the story you read inthe book is just at the top of a lot of research. Basically bothprimary research in these 200 interviews where were looking forvery -- I worked with a research team at Stanford -- werelooking for patterns across how all these people work and think,so that we can boil that down into key insights and methods thateach chapter is built around.But then its also on top of all the innovation and creativity andpsychology, neuroscience research that we could find that wasrelevant to this topic as well. For example, theres this belief thatyou can be more able to go through setbacks and failures if youchange your mindset.Well, we scoured the psychology research to understand, "Well,what does that mean exactly? How does somebody become morecomfortable putting themselves out there night after night likeChris Rock does?" It turns out theres this cutting edge researchthat has been developed by Dr. Carol Dweck who is a professor atStanford. She talks about how people can develop what she callsa "growth mindset." That is the sense that intelligence or abilitycan be grown through effort over time.We found that to be a pattern that we saw in the innovators,whether it was Frank Gehry or Chris Rock or Jeff Bezos, they allhad a growth mindset. Then when we looked at Dwecks researchand all the research she was building on, the consensus was thatthis is extremely tight research.Therefore we said, "OK. Lets put a chapter in the book on thisidea of how one can develop a growth mindset." So it applies to Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsanyone. You just need to, as Dweck says, you need to be able toput yourself out there, though, in order to become morecomfortable with setbacks and failure and basically it just getseasier and easier over time, as you see from your experience, asyoure able to grow through putting more effort into whateveryoure doing.Whether its Lean or just developing ideas with rough prototypes,its just over time the research shows that you can develop amuch stronger growth mindset. So that becomes a chapter in thebook. Thats just one example.Joe: Is the growth mindset something you can learn or is thatjust something that youre born with?Peter: Absolutely can be learned and thats one of the maintakeaways from Dwecks research is that when were young...Our mindset, we all fall on a spectrum between what Dweck callsa fixed mindset, which is the belief that our intelligence and ourabilities are fixed and the growth mindset which is that ourabilities can be grown, our talents can be grown through effort. Alot of where we fall in that spectrum is influenced by how werepraised when were children. So if our parents praise us for theachievements that we have when were young then were muchmore likely to have a fixed mindset. That is to say that we believethat our abilities or our talents are relatively fixed. As opposed toif parents praise effort and say, "Well, youll just get betterthrough experience and effort. If you just put more effort intotaking that test or you put more effort into that athletic contest,youre going to get better over time."Its just depending on where the praise is emphasized when wereyoung. We gravitate towards one end of the spectrum or theother. But the really encouraging news is that even if we have afixed mindset -- a lot of us do have fixed mindsets because thatshow we were raised -- the way to break out of that is, as I said Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbefore, to through experiences see how you can develop yourtalents, your abilities, your intelligence through effort, such asmaking little bets.So thats how the concepts kind of tie together as Dweck wouldsay, "Yeah, just get out there. Make some little bets. See howyou grow through time and then keep building on that over andover again. Eventually your mindset will become much more of agrowth mindset." So thats what her research is about.Joe: Each of these chapters... You have some great chapters inthere. The Genius at Play. The Problems are the New Solutions.Questions are the New Answers. Theyre all real grounded in a lotof research.Peter: Yeah, an enormous amount of research, maybe too muchresearch. It took a year and a half to do this. It was just anenormous undertaking. The point is you want it to be tight. Youwant it to be the truth. You want it to be really accurate. So it is.Im very proud of the fact that people who read this book,whether theyre entrepreneurs or researchers, say, "This makessense. This coincides with my other experience or with myresearch." So that was the goal going out was just to produce agreat book like that.Joe: I actually think you did, Peter. As I related to you beforethe podcast, being a Lean person, Ohno always said what they dois we find problems, we fix problems, we get better. Such a basicthing that he used to become the largest automaker in the world.Using those three simple sentences and thats also what I tookfrom your book.Peter: Through our research we came across the examples likeToyota and some of the Japanese manufacturers. Of course, JeffBezos and Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar, talk a lot abouthow Toyota and the Kaizen methods and principles haveinfluenced their thinking and their approach to building their Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsorganizations. You see the same, obviously, with the agile/Leanmovement. Its all built from these pillars that have been aroundfor a long time and it just so happens that whether youre doingPDCA or bootstrapping a business theres a lot of parallels.Theres a ton of parallels.The differences set in, I guess, for this book I hope to add more,is just, "OK. We get that this is the basic approach. How do youdo it well?" What do you need? For example, growth mindset,how can you develop a growth mindset? Draw upon psychologyand neuroscience to show how we can be more likely to succeedthrough these other related pieces of research that can help us.Joe: I think specifically with the Chris Rock example, what Ifound so interesting was the emphasis throughout theseorganizations on pilot programs. Did you find that all the waythrough?Peter: Yes. I think pilot programs; theyre almost a no-brainer.Im almost surprised that people would even see a pilot programidea as something thats novel. I was at an advertising firm theother day and they were talking about how they could moreeffectively use pilots to discover what ideas were going to workand which werent early in their processes as opposed to needingto have the big, big idea. This is almost like a novel thing evenfor advertising firms, which youd think would intuitively just trylots of pilots. So yeah, if people take nothing else than "pilots arevaluable" thats great. But its a no-brainer; we should piloteverything we do. I think the Lean movement understands that.Thats sort of part and parcel of the Lean movement.Joe: Yeah. I think that with the Lean startup and with the agileguys where they look at a minimal viable product.Peter: Right. Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: Get out there and getting it in front of a customer andgetting it in front of a live body. I think the best thing that EricRies has come out with the Lean startup is that he talks about,"No, the founder needs to go out and get in front of a live bodyand get that feedback."Peter: Yes, thats right. Just the importance of getting out intothe world and out of the office and really, from the very, veryfront line. Thats where value is actually created. Thats whereintrinsic value is actually created is when somebody makes adecision to pay for something. Bootstrapped entrepreneurs haveto be out there talking with these customers or potentialcustomers because thats how they eat their next meal. Thatshow they pay down their credit card debt. Yet in the Silicon Valleymodel of getting businesses funded by venture capital firms, youcan spend a lot of time in your ivory tower developing an ideathat you think is fantastic without actually testing thatassumption with actual people, actual users in the world.Yes, get out of the office. Get out into the world. Its a commonsense way of making sure that youre solving the right problemsand getting the right insights. Then theres a whole chapter that Iwrite about, how do you get the right insights? This is where youcan learn a lot from the world of design thinking or people whoact like anthropologists out in the world to use certain approachesto observation and noticing where the disconnects are betweenwhat people say they want and what they actually need.You can learn how to develop that skill as well. Thats notsomething thats as prominent in the Lean circles yet. But I thinkover time that they will gravitate towards using these moreanthropological, ethnographic techniques to make sure thattheyre solving, finding the right needs and problems as they go.Joe: How do you think someone could get there? How would youlead someone down that path? Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsPeter: This chapter that I wrote about in "Little Bets" is, I think,just the natural starting point I would put in front of anyone,which is that title Questions are the New Answers. It talks abouthow different people in organizations actually go about thisprocess. In the case of the military, they go out and when theygo into a new town in the Middle East, they will spend time withtribal leaders actually having tea or having long discussion withpeople who are in the town, developing relationships, really tryingto understand what the local power structure is like, asking a lotof questions.Theres certain questions that are really good types of questionsto answer like very open-ended questions, for example, where itgives people the opportunity to share a lot without targetingthem too much towards a specific answer.So there are a number of examples like that in this chapter thatsa starting point. From there its a skill that can be developed justthrough careful observation, genuinely acting like ananthropologist and theres another example I write aboutMuhammad Yunus whos the founder of the Grameen Bank. Hesa former economist who became one of the leading socialentrepreneurs in the world by actually getting out of his ivorytower office and out into a small town nearby to really understandwhat the problems were in this small town.He was trying to understand how to alleviate poverty. He got intowhat he calls "the worms eye view" and you just follow him as hegoes house by house asking people what their lives are like. Hestrying to understand, by peeling back this onion, what are theroot causes of poverty?You in your field would ask similar questions, why, why, why,why, why, just constantly probing to get deeper. I think withsome of those operating principles that will get you at least anextra 80-90 percent of the way there. To become even deeper in Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthat field I would recommend studying some of the methods fromdesign thinking.Joe: You talk about design thinking several times here. Can yougive an introduction to that a little bit?Peter: Design thinking is a methodology, an approach tobuilding up ideas from scratch rather than starting with theanswer. This is the way that Apple develops its new productideas. They do a tremendous amount of prototyping. They usemethods around... Steve Jobs is a constant anthropologist in hisown right. They do constant framing and reframing of problems.Its really just a set of methods and a process for trying to solvefor needs or problems that may not be known previously. I guessthe way I would describe it is that business school teaches ushow to solve known problems. Design school or design thinkinghelps us to identify what the right problems are through aprocess and then allows us, through lots of testing and iteration,build that into a solution. Its just a basic creative process.Theres a lot of history to design. It was influenced by many,many other fields like advertising and other fields where theyhave creative processes.Joe: I think a lot of the recent books, recent things were seeingare talking about iterations, its talking about the pilots and thedifferent ways of doing it. Were kind of moving away from someof our technical roots, arent we? We need to involve the peopleagain. We need to become a people society. Weve all went andstarted, had all our own home offices and were all sitting herebehind our computers is our office and these one-person bandsout there. Now everybodys talking about, "Gee, youve got to goout and see this person. Youve got to go out and youve got tosee this person face to face." Its kind of a reversal of where wejust came from. Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsPeter: Thats interesting. The problems and the insights for thenew business ideas are out in the world. Theyre not going toappear instantaneously to you while youre sitting at your deskunless youre solving a problem for yourself that solves a need forlots of other people. Yes, the design thinking, I guess, going backto design thinking, it is more of a customer-centric approach todeveloping ideas. Its a human-centered approach. Its saying, "Ifyoure not really aware of people, youd be much more likely tobe building things and creating things that are, maybe,interesting from a technology standpoint, but that arent reallygoing to go anywhere because theyre not actually solving theright need or problem."You can think of that and a lot of other trends, I guess, wereseeing as putting more of an emphasis on people rather than justpurely technology. You need both. You really need to make surethat you dont forget about people. This is something I talk withpeople at Google about. Google comes up with technologies allthe time that they think are really cool that the rest of the worlddoesnt care about.It can be a huge problem if an organization becomes too focusedon technology or engineering at the expense of people becausethats how the world goes around.Joe: Can you tell me something that you took from the bookthat you learned from the book that you didnt expect, somethingthat you really took away from it as a learning experience?Peter: The reason I decided to write this book is because as Igot exposed to these ideas for how to think in an iterative wayand design thinking and saw that these other people were usingthe same methods and approach, it changed the way I think. Inever thought of myself as creative. I wrote the entire book usingthe principles that I write about. So I started... At the very earlystages I hadnt decided, "Well, should I spend time working on Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsthis project. Is it worth the time?" What I did is I literally justscribbled ideas down on sheets of paper that I put in front of myfamily and my friends.One of the people I put it in front of was Ned Barnholt, the formerHewlett-Packard executive who said, "This is great, reallyinteresting important stuff youre onto. It reminds of how mycareer, I needed to make a lot more little bets rather than justbig bets because we ended up making a lot of big bets at HP thatcost lots and lots of money, but that werent actually solving theright problems."So this experience showed me how to go out and start anythingfrom scratch. I can do anything from scratch now given theseskills and these methods that I write about in the book. The endresult, in this case, is a book that people say, "Oh, this is a verycreative book." No, the process is whats brilliant; the approach iswhats brilliant. Im just driving the train. The process is brilliant.Yet, we never learn this in school, Joe. I never got close tolearning about this all through business school. You have to learnthrough your experiences, if youre Chris Rock or Frank Gehry orthe Pixar filmmakers. Im hoping, my great hope is that peoplewill walk away from reading this book, have it be thoughtprovoking and say, "Wow. That causes me to think differently."To me, that was... couldnt have a bigger takeaway than that.Joe: Theres something about teaching on the Amazon page,isnt there, that you looked at this as something that schoolsshould take a look at?Peter: Absolutely. Really, the core of this book is about how dowe discover? How do you discover? What do you do to discover?Whether its making little bets through experimentation or beingable to ask the right questions or prototyping or usingconstraints. All these principles are fairly unanimous ways to beable to create something, whether its a new business or a new Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  18. 18. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemspiece of software. We never learn that. Its just a crisis. Itprevents us from being able to think in a very creative way whenwere trying to do something new. So we fall back on theseanalytical skills that we have, which are great, theyre critical forsolving known problems. Many, many situations are well-suitedfor the skill sets that we have.But when youre doing something new, when youre inuncertainty, when youre out there on the frontier, you need tobe able to think differently. When were kids were taught, "Youcant make mistakes." Well, actually, when youre doingsomething new you should make mistakes because thats howyou learn what to do.So Im hoping that the educational community will read this andbe influenced by it and parents will read this and be influenced byit. You need both. You need to be able to discover when youredoing something new using one way of thinking. And you need tobe able to, when youve figured out what youre doing, youve gotto be able to do it really well, really optimize it.Thats what big businesses do well already though. What theyreterrible at, I think, is discovering constantly. This is the flip sideof that coin.Joe: I guess when you look at a large company, isnt it prettydifficult to sit there and make little bets? Maybe not on a granderpicture, Im not going after that. But within in company, within adepartment, or is it the way we should just learn and the way weshould experience life?Peter: Yes, I think it is the way we need to learn. Its the waywe need to experience life. Thats exactly it, Joe. Thats why itwas a little bet. Thats why the idea is start with a little betbecause its achievable and affordable in whatever situationyoure in. For example, people who are working at GeneralMotors, executives at General Motors say to me, "Yeah, this is Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  19. 19. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsactually something we can do. We can make little bets. We havea very hard time making medium-sized bets because were sorisk-averse. But we can make little bets. We need to make morelittle bets. Its actually an antidote to risk aversion." Just as ChrisThoen at P&G said to me that the little bet is the way to create aconstant learning organization, to be able to make little bets, wayto create a constant learning organization.Thats my hope, but Im also very aware that everybody has anenormous number of constrains on them and we have a very rigidway of thinking about experimentation in most organizations.My hope is that people, if they want to innovate within theirorganization, even if its just reinventing a meeting, that they canmake a little bet to see how to do it better. And that once theyvemade little bets that have succeeded, theyve built them on smallwins, as I write about, they can do that repeatedly over time sothat they gain more allies and more support and more power tobe able to influence the culture, even at a large risk-averseorganization. So I dont see why theres any reason why anybodycouldnt do that.Joe: I think one of the things about Little Bets that strikes me isthat its just like creating knowledge it cant be done in a vacuum.You need to go out there. Its that people thing again, that youhave to go experience it. You have to go. You learn by doing.Peter: Yeah, thats right. So the more you do, the more youregoing to learn and the more youre going to be able to piecedifferent possibilities together that you can, then, test. Theresways to come up with possibilities again at that early stage ofdeveloping ideas. Theres ways to come up with possibilities usingimprovisational techniques and humor that are extremelyeffective that, again, we never get taught. But that are extremelyeffective ways to come up with numerous possibilities that, again,you cycle back through this process of testing. Your general Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  20. 20. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsquestions are really highlighting a major part of this book andthat is that when youre at that early stage of developing ideas,theres all these human factors that anyone can do well. Whetherits improvising or immersing into the world and reallyunderstanding what human needs are, or what have you, thatcan complement more of a standardized plan, do, check, actprocess.Joe: In that PDCA cycle. In that Little Bets cycle, in the Agilecycle, the one thing that I question a little bit, though, is its alsothat check cycle when you get feedback. Youve got to be prettyopen to feedback to improve then, right?Peter: You do. And you have to decide what feedback to takeand what not to take. I think the key there is that... Chris Rock isnot going to develop all of his ideas based on what members inthe audience tell him he should do. Hes looking in the audienceto see where the opportunities are. Hes looking to see ifsomebodys shrugging or smirking or smiling. Hes just trying tofind insights that he uses to say, "OK. Im going to try this ideathen and lets see if this works." So I think most important part ofthe feedback is just gathering insights, gathering data. Then youhave to decide where do you want to go with that? Whats yournext idea going to be? You cant let the world tell you what thatidea should be. Its very different than just feedback for the sakeof having other people create the answer for you.Joe: So Henry Fords story, if I would have went and asked thecustomer I would have just gotten a faster horse.Peter: Thats exactly it. But he understood that what peoplereally needed, the insight was that people really needed to beable to get around more quickly and more easily.Joe: Where can someone find more information about little betsbesides just buying, which they probably should? Do you have aFacebook page? Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  21. 21. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsPeter: My website is probably the best place. It has all kinds of articles. It has a freechapter of the book. It has a number of resources to help providesome more context and insight for people on this research thatwe did.Joe: You can just tell by reading it was very well researched. Butits a story and its a very entertaining book that you just dontsee in this field that often.Peter: Thank you, Joe. Thank you very much. It was fun towrite.Joe: I want to thank you, Peter, and this podcast will beavailable on the Business901 iTunes store and also website. Thanks again, Peter.Peter: Thank you. I already appreciate it, Joe. Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901
  22. 22. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Web/Blog: Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and withingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive companyproviding direction in areas such as Lean Marketing, ProductMarketing, Product Launches and Re-Launches. As a LeanSix Sigma Black Belt, Business901 provides and implementsmarketing, project and performance planning methodologies insmall businesses. The simplicity of a single flexible model willcreate clarity for your staff and as a result better execution. Mygoal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could startwith a consulting style utilizing an individual from yourorganization or a virtual assistance that is well versed in ourprinciples. We have capabilities to plug virtually anymarketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s rolesupporting the process as needed. The goal of implementing asystem is that the processes will become a habit and not anevent. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things Copyright Business901