Experimentation is a backbone for Innovation, yet many organizations do not have a culture that supports it. Thus, they lose out on important opportunities.
This is the conclusion of a recent article in Harvard Business Review*, that success in innovation through experimentation is more about culture than understanding complex methodologies to run experiments. Here are some ideas from the article:
*Tolerance for Failure. Many organizations are far too conservative and overly worried about the failure of an experiment. Often, the downsides are exaggerated.
*Leaders Must Role Model. It is ideal if you can lead some experiments and make sure others know about it. It is even more important that when your experiments fail that you make sure others know this and that they see you stress what you have learned from it. Support others in their experiments and their failure.
*Use A/B Testing. This is frequently used technique in direct mail – both for advertising and fundraising for nonprofits. It is the idea that you can try two different approaches for two similar audiences and then see which one works best. You can even choose a small random sample of a new approach if you are concerned with changing from your traditional way of doing things.
*Be Ethically Sensitive. Once you decide that you want to be more intentional about a culture of experimentation then include discussion of the ethical implications in your ethics training and onboarding processes.
*Provide Systems and Resources. Experimentation requires investment in the development of systems that support it and will require resources. You can start small, but this needs to be a budget item.
While the article does not mention it, experimentation is what the Lean Startup methodology – used widely in startups – is all about. It suggests creating small experiments and “pivoting” quickly once data shows the idea will not work. Check out this blog for more details.
Innovation without some risk is virtually impossible, and it requires experimentation to see which innovations make sense for further investment. Add a culture of experimentation to your organization and make even more of a Mission Impact.
*Thomke, S., “Building a Culture of Experimentation,” Harvard Business Review, March – April 2020, pp. 40 – 48.