8 Ways to Democratize Experimentation: HBR Blog

My third post on the Harvard Business Review site went live today. The post was written in collaboration with H. James Wilson and is titled, 8 Ways to Democratize Experimentation. Building on our previous post on experimentation, in this post, we offer 8 tips for organizations to consider as they try to infuse experimentation as part of every employee's work.

  1. Increase managerial attention.
  2. Train employees on the basics of conducting experiments.
  3. Accept that experimentation is a messy and untidy process.
  4. Deploy organizational resources and assets to give employees the time and space to experiment with their ideas.
  5. Build a process whereby experiments can be conducted in a systematic manner.
  6. Create a platform or bulletin board.
  7. Give intrinsically motivated experimenters the same care provided to "sanctioned," large-scale experiments.
  8. Start a working papers and presentation series for both researchers and practitioners.

 

We would love to hear your comments on the ideas presented.

2 replies
  1. Tim
    Tim says:

    These are very good points on experimentation. The first point is critical to the success of experimentation because managers are supposed to be the key individuals who oversee the workflow of their employees. Without managerial support, it will be difficult for employees to find the time or resources to experiment with their ideas. Managers are also likely responsible for approving or disapproving the experimentation of the idea. Point 5 & 6 can help with making the process much more open to prevent personal matters from affecting the evaluation of an idea for experimentation.

    The second and third point are related in helping both management and employees understand that the the goal is not to create a product that can be sold in the market, but to find a viable idea and validate it in the market through a proof of concept – something that's not the prettiest thing (and not even functional).

    The rest of the points are related in how they show people that the organization is fully supporting this process of experimentation. Allowing researchers and practitioners share their work allows for an intersection that could lead to new knowledge created by the researcher finding a market application by the practitioner, or vice versa with the researcher being able to extract valuable (and reusable) knowledge.

  2. Carlos
    Carlos says:

    Hi Kevin,

    It seems to me you forgot to answer a key question here: "What's in it for me?" Why would an employee go out of his routine and experiment? Why would he/ she want to reach new opportunities?

    Your question is: "How can experimentation become a part of every employee's work?" The 8 ways proposed seem to limit themselves to support experimentation within a company, but do not really encourage it.

    In order to encourage employees to make experimentation a part of their work, you will have to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself: "What's in it for me?".

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