Q&A: How can you mature a culture of experimentation?
I recently did a Q&A, and my favorite question was:
"How can we mature our culture of experimentation?"
So, here's my answer!
Change starts from the top.
Leaders need to buy into it and role-model behaviors. Without them, it'll be an uphill battle.
Lean on a change management model.
Kotter's "Leading Change" model is super useful.
It's a great 8-step process to generate the call for change in a large organization.
The steps are:
- Create a sense of urgency
- Build a guiding coalition
- Form a strategic vision and initiatives
- Enlist a volunteer army
- Enable action by removing barriers
- Generate short-term wins
- Sustain acceleration
- Institute change
It'll be a long slog, but the results will be worth the effort.
Use your people systems and processes.
Set up people systems and processes that support curiosity, resilience, and humility.
A few good ways to do this is to write the change you want into your...
- job descriptions,
- levels and expectations frameworks,
- company values,
- performance management processes, and
- incentive and reward programs.
The more you recognize and reward an experimentation mindset, the more people will exemplify those traits.
Celebrate and support failure.
Make "failure" a line item in the budget.
Then, people will know it's expected and accounted for. Tell everyone if they're not using it enough, or if they're using it well.
Because if you're not failing—you're probably not trying.
Celebrate every win.
Elevate and learn from big and small wins.
It's easier to get 15 small wins than to find one mega super huge win.
I'll take many small, consistent wins to leverage "The Compound Effect" any day.
Experimentation is not an academic exercise.
It's a practical tool to get us closer to our customers and to serve them better. And it supports better design decisions and risk mitigation.
So, be curious!
And just PRACTICE vs. getting it perfect and feeling smart about it.
Cause trust me—we're gonna fail more than we win.
And that's fine.