Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Little bets" can work for in-house counsel, too

In May I wrote that in-house counsel might use "small wins" as an effective strategy for navigating through a new client, a new legal assignment, a new employer, or even a promotion.  Today I wanted to share some thoughts about one of my resources, a new book by Peter Sims, Little Bets, which I had the time to read while on a trip out West last month.

Although Little Bets is written with the entrepreneur in mind, I believe it has a far wider application, to include in-house counseling and our personal lives.  The premise of the book is that in your approach to a project, rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket ("big bets"), try out lots of different little things ("little bets"), knowing full well that many or most will fail, but along the way discovering what works and what doesn't.  Then take those things that work and implement them on a wider scale.

This is not a new theme nor limited to entrepreneurs.  Many large organizations, such as Travelers and Progressive insurance companies, have been known for investing in "pilot" projects before launching a new program on a permanent basis.  Sure, their pilot projects can be quite large, but they are little bets by comparison to the organizations' size.

Action plan:  If I have convinced you that an in-house counsel can apply this concept, then use the following template as an action plan:
  1. Start with a vision or goal - for example, improving a relationship with a difficult client or co-worker.
  2. Then make a list with lots of "little bets" - for example, drop by and say hello in the morning, invite your corporate client to breakfast or lunch, email articles of interest, identify a common interest, use the intervention of HR or a mentor, etc.
  3. Execute each little bet - simultaneously or one-by-one.
  4. Be flexible.  Along the way, you need to recognize what's not working, and adjust accordingly.
Here are some of my other take-aways from Little Bets:  You may find that things that work best were not even on your list.   That is, you may discover what works by pure trial and error.  If you want to improve your chances of successfully getting to where you want to go, then you need to be comfortable with the amount of time you will need to invest (and your investment of money if you're doing this as an entrepreneur) and commit yourself to that investment.  And think about other aspects of your life where you might apply this strategy.

And do not overlooked this advice:  expect (and embrace) lots of little failures along the way.  For more on navigating failure, see

If you don't have time for the entire book, read at least through Chapter 3.  Hopefully, it  will help you while you are

This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at 

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