Business leaders ask teams to make time for experiments. Almost as if experimentation is a separate activity that needs to be added to the calendar. If experiments and innovation is to become a competitive advantage they need to be an integral part of the work teams do, not an optional extra. In this edition of the Agile OWL, we explore how experimentation is at the heart of the Agile mindset and methodologies. In the future edition of the Agile OWL, we will explore different facets and stories about experimentation. But first, let’s recap on what is a business experiment?
Everything man has discovered in some sense the result of experiments. Be it the invention of the telephone or the discovery of radioactive rays.
A business experiment, then, is a process in which different strategies, designs, and configurations are tested using a structured test-and-learn approach. In effect, we bring the same scientific mindset and rigour into exploring possibilities at the workplace.
A team which is constantly running experiments, applying learnings and releasing new features/improvements is said to be involved in experimentation. Experimentation thus is a process. Business Experimentation is what happens when a team is running on experiments which are small, cheap, and low risk.
Business Experiments and Agile
Agile in essence provided us with a road map to weave in experiments and experimentation into regular work. Agile manifesto helped teams across industries adopt the scientific mindset and rigour, while responding to rapidly changing business realities.
Why do we say that? Look at the Agile manifesto – it values responding to change over following a plan. Agile principles state and recommend working in iterations and reflecting on actions to improve! Responding to change – working in iterations – Reflecting on our actions is an experimentative way of working! Agile has helped weave in experiments and experimentation into regular work and even personal lives.
Why are business experiments important?
The case for business experiments is long, we list a few here in no order of priority.
- Reduces the possibility of costly mistakes. Companies get to explore and test their ideas in smaller, low-risk ways, than going ahead with a full launch.
- Increases the speed of innovation. When teams are constantly experimenting, it increases the speed of new ideas and delivery.
- Enhances creativity: Experimentation reduces and removes the fear of failure in teams. This in turn enhances creativity and innovation among teams.
- Experimentation improves the overall decision making process in companies. Teams are no longer governed by HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinions)
- Creates teams which grow and improve. An experimenting team is taking action and reflecting on those actions to learn. This creates a virtuous cycle of action-learning-growth!
Having made the case for Agile and business experiments, join us at the Agile OWL to explore experiments at work. Every edition here-on we will focus on one aspect of experimenting and bring to you a story on experimenting from the world of work.
Experimenting is a muscle that needs to be strengthened. It encompasses a set of mindsets, skills, and tools. Each of which needs to be practiced and built upon to make experimentation as a way of work. As a way of our lives