24 Jan 15|Innovation

A friend of mine keeps coming up with great book discoveries!

A friend of mine keeps coming up with great book discoveries! A few weeks ago he recommended Little Bets – how breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries, by Peter Sims. I’m still getting through it (and the 1000’s of other books I have on my “to read” list) but I’ve just read the chapter titled, Small Wins and there are a few things worth pointing out!

Small Wins are defined as small successes that emerge out of our ongoing development process. Sims goes on to describe small wins as building blocks or footholds or landmarks. These types of Small Wins can often indicate if we are heading in the right direction or if we should consider a change of direction – even a 180 degree turn…

The Small Wins theory is set against the analogy of the alcoholic, who doesn’t think about whether or not he will be sober in 10 years time but rather puts energy into remaining sober one day at a time. Another analogy Idrew was from the movie What About Bob, starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Here the patient (Bill Murray) focuses on babysteps to deal with his afflictions, rather than deal initially with massive changes which could seem like Mt Everest…

The chapter has a few examples of Small Wins and my favourite one is the discussion centred around Pixar. For some time after Jobs took over, Pixar continued to lose money. There had always been a grand plan – to make animated feature films – but it was assumed that this plan would not happen any time soon, and apparently the animation division was nearly closed several times. Who knows, perhaps in desperation, the animation team proposed a series of short films, purportedly to promote some hardware Pixar was trying to sell.

Luxor Jr was a 90 second animation film that received a standing ovation at a computer graphics conference (there were 6,000 people on their feet). The Luxor lamp that inspired the movie is now the Pixar logo…That Small Win, led to other small wins which in turn led Pixar to where they are today…making animated feature films that are box office hits.

Another of my Innovation favourite examples is Starbucks Cafe. Sims describes how Starbucks emerged/evolved by listening and acting on customer feedback – they had a yes approach to customer requests. The boss had a no non-fat drink policy in the beginning! Customers however wanted non fat drinks so what the customer wanted the customer got – and low fat drinks were introduced. Starbucks realised that customers wanted “Affordable Luxuries”, $2 cappuccinos, exotic tasting coffees etc. Customers got what they wanted and the rest is history.

Small changes at Starbucks led to pivotal changes away from Shultz’s (the boss) original  idea to model

Starbucks on Italian coffee houses – there is no low fat or non fat milk there!!! Rather, the small wins led to the creation of  a new American coffee experience.

The common link here is…an open mind!

The common link here is…an open mind!

The common link here is…an open mind!

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