Have you read this book? Little Bets by Peter Sims came out this year by Simon and Schuster. Sims studied highly creative people and companies to learn about their innovation and thinking processes, people such as Steve Jobs, Frank Gehry, and Chris Rock, and companies like Pixar. While the book is helpful for business people and entrepreneurs, it is one that has a direct application to education, especially given the fact that Sims points out repeatedly: today’s children need to be prepared to be tomorrow’s problem solvers and innovators. This book will help parents in their own endeavors, and also aid them in thinking more deeply about their children’s education.
In a chapter entitled “Questions are the New Answers,” Sims asks, “What is the purpose of education? Is it to convey knowledge, as the current system is weighted, or is it to inspire and nurture an ability to constantly learn?” This is after citing a study by researchers Gregersen and Dyer in The Innovator’s DNA in which they observed, “If you look at four-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are six and a half years old they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions” (Sims, 114-115).
Sims addresses perfectionism, and shows that “our creative capacities won’t be liberated unless we let go of the subconscious need to always be perfect or have the immediate answer” (Sims, 49).
He comments on the importance of an environment replete with humor and flexibility: “Creating an atmosphere that allows for playfulness and improvisation is one of the most effective ways to inspire the experimentation that leads to the best ideas and insights” (Sims, 65).
All in all, we found Sims’ book to be a positive influence in helping to continue to shape the atmosphere and purpose of Ignite. We also found it useful on a personal level, helping us to realize that making “little bets” – trying new things, making small investments in good, original ideas with the understanding that they may fail or develop into different ideas altogether – is a positive, healthy, and innovative path to take as individuals and as members of a forward-thinking organization.