Taking Little Bets: Innovation Takes Iterations

Post Highlights

  • Peter Sims gave Keynote at GovDelivery’s Annual Event
  • Innovation takes iterations, we need to take affordable risks, take small bets
  • Failure is OK, as long we are learning
  • Leadership models are changing – and often intersect with emerging technology

This morning I attended GovDelivery’s annual event, Digital Government: The Transformative Power of Communications. The event focused on how digital government, innovation and communications intersect to transform how government operates and provides services to citizens through emerging technology.

The keynote speaker for the event was Peter Sims, Author of Little Bets – How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries and Co-Author of True North – Discover Your Authentic Leadership. Peter’s keynote was a fantastic presentation on the dire need for transformational leadership and innovation in government. In a time of tight budget constrains, decreasing resources, and rising demand from citizens, leaders are now tasked like never before to navigate the bureaucracy, allocate resources, and streamline operations to maximize efficiency of both personnel and limited resources allocated within the agency.

Peter Sims has also been featured on the DorobekINSIDER as part of the DorobekINSIDER Book Club. (You can hear his the entire interview with Chris Dorobek by visiting here).

Peter started by describing the background of Little Bets, and how at the core of the book is entrepreneurial thinking. Peter started off by telling the story of Pixar, and the growth of story telling through a new digital medium. Peter walked through the history of Pixar, as it’s early roots as a hardware company and connections with George Lucas and Steve Jobs. Peter gave a great presentation; here are some of my highlights from his presentation:

Take Affordable Risks

The idea that Peter expressed is that people need to use and understand how to take risks and identify affordable losses as a way to solve problems, so once you find a solution that works, now that is a solution that can help you go big. The idea is that you need to make a lot of mistakes to learn how to innovative and how to improve.

Innovation can come from failure

Peter identified that “conceptual innovators” are people who formulate ideas in their minds and manifest the idea in some way on paper, the example used was that Mozart would be able to write a symphony with little mistakes on paper, the opposite is Beethoven, who is an “experimental innovator,” who would work tirelessly and work to perfect his craft. Most of us are experimental innovators, and we need embrace that innovation takes iterations.

Get out of Perfectionist Mindset

In order to really be an innovator, it requires to the ability to take risks, open up to feedback and criticism, and look to new ways to improve processes.

We Aren’t Taught to Take Little Bets

We are taught to be perfectionists, and in reality, the opposite is true to be an innovator. Peter showed a clip from Jerry Seinfeld working out some new material in front of a small audience, and struggling to finish the joke. The idea is that people can choose to make “a little bet” everyday, and be more creative, and innovative, it’s just the willingness to put yourself out and take the right risk.

Learn your creative process

Peter showed a few really interesting clips, one was from the documentary “Sketches with Frank Gehry,” which showed that a team that had worked together for 15 years and teammates said they could pick up on nonverbal queues. Knowing your creative process and how you work best, is critical.

Peter Sims also was clear to mention that the dynamics of government leadership is changing. The hierarchal mentality is becoming increasingly obsolete, as the demand for improved collaboration and connection with core stakeholders increases.

The event this morning was a reminder of the power of the digital age. Not only do we now have the ability to instantly collaborate and connect with people, we have the ability to constructively empower citizens, agencies, and communities to take action. Be sure to check out some more GovDelivery resources by visiting their group, or by taking a look at some related posts here on GovLoop:

GovDelivery is the #1 sender of government-to-citizen communications, serving over 400 government entities worldwide and more than half of major U.S. federal agencies. Organizations use GovDelivery to send over 200 million messages every month on a broad range of topics including national emergencies, health alerts, tax policy changes and more. Check out their User Group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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