An Open Letter—A Sperm’s Advice on Improving Your Odds

Hi, my name is Samuel J. Sperm Jr.

I know you’re hoping to have successful innovation up there, so I figured I’d drop some wisdom. If human conception is the ultimate act of invention, I’m clearly a qualified expert since my entire life’s focus is on that one thing. I don’t play golf, watch reruns, or eat potato chips. I spend every moment of every day with a single-minded objective.

You humans crack me up sometimes. When you want to innovate, you take the Mega Millions Lotto approach. You think that one single pick, played once, is going to deliver untold riches. Sorry to spoil the fun, but you’ve got a 1 in 302,575,350 chance of hitting the jackpot. That’s the same likelihood of getting struck by lightning 433 times. Good luck with that.

Now if there were just one of me, my odds would be even worse. When I leap into action, I’m contending with as many as six hundred million direct competitors. And even if one of us hits a bull’s-eye on the perfect day of the month, there’s still only a 30 percent chance things work out. So, my individual odds are closer to one in two billion.

But me and my buddies, we’re all about high-velocity experimentation. If we took your Mega Millions Lotto approach, the human race would soon be extinct. We prefer the more effective method of deploying high-frequency, high-quantity trials. In the end, this reduces risk, allows us to try many different experiments at once, saves time, and ultimately ensures that we’ll be successful in the end.

Take it from me and my six hundred million fellow Big Little Breakthroughs in training. It takes lots of tiny experiments to deliver predictable success.

Yours truly,

Samuel J. Sperm Jr.

(The above is an excerpt from Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small, Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results. Please note: The whole book isn’t this goofy, but I do hope a section or two gives you a chuckle.)