Experimentation in business can lead to breakthroughs and improved goods or services. Too many business experiments, while it might feel safer to test every option, 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 being initiated without having the patience to see if they worked. With the distortion of having so many initiatives working at the same time, it was impossible to read a clear result.
Business experiments are only as good as the quality of the planning. Here are a few ways to create successful tests without putting a drain on your 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 put the original environment back 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 make sense of it, make it simpler and get them refocused.
- Have the guts to say no. All too often when looking for answers, the business principal allows too much latitude in recommendations from his or her 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 going in and don’t bank too much on what the early trends seem to show. It’s important 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 how to deal with roadblocks if they come up. 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 and vital components of a successful business; they just need to 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 you need to lead effectively. Fill out my contact form to schedule a free video coaching session to get you started.