To move our companies forward, we need to experiment. We need to try out new products, new sales/ marketing strategies, new processes, and new leadership styles. We cannot be certain if all of these will work. But, to not experiment means that our companies stagnate.
It is common sense to take a method and try it: if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But, above all, try something. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
When we try to do something new, we cannot be certain that it will work. So, we need to experiment and test to choose what might work best. Marketers have been doing this for years with A/B testing whereby two or more product features or marketing approaches are rolled out on a limited basis to see which resonates with customers. We can apply this same principle to many area of business and leadership. We can experiment with new technologies or new processes; or we can change one small thing about the way we manage or lead a group or individual.
The crucial part of experimenting is in having the humility to realize that our brilliant ideas or deep insights may or may not work. This means that we should try an idea on a small scale and get data and experience to see whether the idea truly does work in reality.
How to Experiment
We experiment by starting out small. We can do a test case in one location; we can do A/B testing; we can make a small change in how we hold our team accountable; or we can try a new way to organize and be personally more productive.
But, the key is to try and evaluate whether the experiment actually works with hard data and painfully won experience. Then, and only then, can we roll out the new change to a larger group or the company overall.
And, once we have success or failure with one experiment, then we can try to experiment with something different.
Consistently experimenting leads to daily improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. As such, experimenting is a key element in lean.
But, experimentation needs to be practiced in moderation. We need to limit ourselves. We cannot have too many experiments, initiatives, programs going on at one time. As an extreme example, I once worked with a company that had 26 improvement initiatives underway at the same time. If your team starts to talk about the program of the month, you are experimenting too much.
Do not believe my teaching on faith, but rather through investigation and experiment. Buddha
By following the advice of the Buddha and experimenting in moderation and then evaluating the results of our experiments methodically, we will drive continuous improvement in our companies and prove the wise adage:
It is works in practice, it just might work in theory.