Why Is It So Hard To Introduce Experimenting?

When I’m listening to people discussing over experimenting in a corporation, I hear similar dilemmas:

  • Is 5-6 people you interview enough to bring decision?
  • If we prove only one concept through testing with users is that enough to conclude that this concept is the best. Maybe there are some other concept that are better?
  • How do we make sure that once we launch the product to the market that it will be successful?
  • And so on

These are all very relevant and natural questions, but I would say they all come from one source – the project management mind set.

Most of the people in corporation have been leading projects and they are shaped in a project way.

What I mean here is the fact that project has it’s firm scope, resources (not so rarely given by their names) dedicated in certain time frame with certain percent of their working time, it has the beginning and it has it’s end.

Once you launch the project it is, typically, transferred to line organization for operation and maintenance. To be blunt, from the perspective of project manager – it’s fire and forget thing.

With this setup in mind all those questions come natural – because as a project manager you only have one chance, one big bang – your project either succeeds (and you with it) or it fails.

However, there’s significant difference when we are talking about experimenting, the red way, the agile way of work, the design thinking… Here, there is no end of project, there’s no big bang launch date.

Here, we do experiments not to launch the successful project, but to understand something we barely understand. The point of each experiment is to clear away at least some mist that we are running through. And this is something you do constantly.

Even when you have a product in mind that you want to launch you don’t stop experimenting once it is out there in front of our customers.

So, that is why 5-6 people is enough, because we are talking about incremental moves to reduce the uncertainty. And incremental, but never ending moves to improve our product.

And that’s why testing this concept that we have is totally ok, because through testing, through its life we are modifying it based on customer feedback.

And that is why it is so important to forget about project launch dates, about big bangs and start thinking about products as living things on which you work, change, improve as long as they exist.

So you just have to start experimenting and then a lot of dilemmas will resolve, and things will start getting to their places.

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