Experiments are an incredibly useful way for organisations to learn and catalyse effective change. As the business environment becomes more volatile and uncertain, the need to foster agility and promote innovation has grown. Whilst other forms of research, analysis, planning and execution remain useful, for some organisational challenges they cannot provide the answers. Rather than calculate, predict, assume and estimate, it can be better to explore, try, test, learn and refine.
Experiments are usually conducted on a small scale at first, making them easier and faster to implement than typical organisational changes. Designed well, they can produce insights very quickly – and often these insights are more robust than those produced from conventional methods. For example, focus groups might suggest that lots of customers would buy a new product – an experiment can show that they actually do! Experiments are also often less expensive than alternative approaches to gathering insights – and because they typically help to reduce risks, offer even greater financial returns if these insights lead to wide-scale implementation of changes.
Experiments have led to some of humankind’s greatest achievements, and have the potential to stimulate extraordinary innovation and change within organisations too – by challenging assumptions and fostering action learning.