"Little Bets" Book Writeup

July 04, 2011

What’s the point?
The book is about making deliberate, small bets to achieve a desirable end result. The idea is to get critical feedback without investing extraneous time or money. By failing fast and learning from the mistakes, the author argues that we can iterate more quickly and arrive at a favorable result faster.

How was it?
I have mixed feelings about the book. Most of the material is good; concepts like getting small wins to build momentum and confidence and getting a minimum viable product in front of expert users are certainly valuable. But the book lacks any real calls to action or steps to take, instead opting to tell stories of how Pixar, Chris Rock and Steve Jobs use these methods.

Compared to a book like Inspired, Little Bets falls flat for me; it feels like more a Malcolm Gladwell book. While it does mention agile software development, there isn’t anything specific to software.

I would have liked to see more examples of making little bets for software products, like doing A/B tests or customer validation with ghetto testing.

Who should read it?
While it was interesting to see little bets and the MVP concept being applied to other industries, particular to stand-up comedy, I feel like there are better options that are more directly related to software development.

It might be valuable for non-technical people who want a gentle introduction to topics like agile iteration, failing quickly and getting user feedback, but engineers and managers can probably skip this one.

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