How would you establish an experimentation mindset?

How would you establish an experimentation mindset? How would you establish an experimentation mindset?

1 Expert Answer

Tony Ulwick

Founder & CEO,  Strategyn

The best way to create an experimentation mindset is to change the way the team thinks about experimentation.


A lot of traditional experimentation, like prototyping, is designed to test your concept to see if it addresses unmet needs in the market. The problem is that most companies don’t know what all those unmet needs are up front—they're learning as they go.


What typically happens is this:

  1. You stumble across what you think is an unmet need.
  2. You go prototype a feature or solution that addresses it.
  3. You go out and you talk to customers about your idea, and they tell you if it satisfies a need and if there are still other unmet needs.
  4. You iterate, come up with the next prototype, and go back out to test it with customers. They say, "Yeah, that's better, but there are still some other needs that are unmet."
  5. Repeat.


This failing fast or rapid prototyping approach to experimentation is actually highly inefficient. These are the wrong kind of experiments to run.


When it comes to innovation, we're trying to come up with solutions that help customers get a job done better and more cheaply. If you can prove that the concept you're thinking of developing would better satisfy customers' unmet needs, and you could predict that it will get the job done better and cheaper before you start developing it, that's a great experiment. You wouldn’t be spending time and money prototyping and iterating and guessing.


Here’s what a needs-based approach to experimentation looks like:

  1. Conduct research to understand all of the customer’s needs (using Outcome-Driven Innovation methods).
  2. Determine which needs are unmet and by how much.
  3. Decide which unmet needs to target for growth and innovation.
  4. Brainstorm solutions that address each of the targeted unmet needs.
  5. Refine the concepts to optimize each.
  6. Determine which concept will create the most value (best satisfy the targeted needs) for the least cost, the least effort, and the least technical risk.
  7. Determine just how much better and more cheaply people will be able to get the job done.


In this case, experimentation focuses on testing solutions against a defined set of customer needs—the customer’s desired outcomes. These are the metrics people use to measure the successful execution of the customer’s job-to-be-done. If the solution addresses the outcomes, you know your solution will win in the market, and your experiment is over. You can bring a winning product to market faster and for less money when you know the product you are about to develop will win in the marketplace.


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