Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck
Experimentation in business can lead to breakthroughs and improved goods or services. However, while it might feel safer to test every option, too many business experiments can lead to wasted time and mismanaged results.
During a recent meeting, I heard a group of senior managers lament their firm’s tendency to create, manage, and interpret an extensive portfolio of tests. The concern was that test after test was initiated without the patience to see if they worked. Moreover, the distortion of so many initiatives working simultaneously made it impossible to read a precise result.
Business experiments are only as good as the quality of the planning. Here are a few ways to create successful tests without wasting time or resources.
- Establish a “test czar.” One senior team member should be the gatekeeper for all tests. Too many competing agendas and priorities within the senior team will create havoc without a metering position to keep the peace.
- Before you start any test, clearly define in writing what you expect, how you will measure the results, who is responsible, what the sunset date is, and most importantly, how you will re-establish the norm if it doesn’t work. How do you return the original environment, and what is the cost? Too many business leaders forget this.
- Listen to your line managers. If your operations gurus get confused by the complexity of your business experiments, regroup fast. These are the experts that have to execute the senior team’s directives. If they can’t understand it, make it simpler and get them refocused.
- Have the guts to say no. When looking for answers, the business principal often allows too much latitude in recommendations from their team. It’s time for your leadership to help prioritize and to bolster your test czar.
- Give your business experiments time to mature. Sometimes it takes a while to see actual results. Allow time for the ripple effect to take place.
- Don’t delude yourself by finding results that aren’t there. Be agnostic, and don’t bank too much on what the early trends seem to show. It’s crucial to remain unbiased when evaluating results, even if you’re covertly pulling for a particular outcome.
- Understand the resources an experiment will require before you start. Identify potential pitfalls and create a plan for dealing with roadblocks if they arise. Unfortunately, too many companies get hit with surprises along the way and don’t budget enough to see the project through.
Prototyping and experimentation are essential to a successful business; they must be managed and interpreted objectively. By planning and executing your business experiments responsibly, you can achieve results that will help your business grow.
If you’re struggling with experimentation in your business, I can help. My business executive coaching can give you the tools to lead effectively. Please fill out my contact form to schedule a free video coaching session to get you started.