Experimentation: Play with Fire, Get Burned, Repeat with Fireproof Gloves

I have this image in my head of a cartoon character mixing chemicals in different test tubes and beakers.  Around him (generic pronoun folks) is a lab of glass bendy tubes, Bunsen burners, and the like.  Chemistry “do nots” abound.  The character slowly pours some green liquid into some boiling pink liquid and KABOOM!  Another experiment failed in a burnt and sizzled face/hair image. Eyes, miraculously undamaged, are wide open with shock and surprise.  The image I just shared is what some typically think about experimentation.

Unfortunately, many of us have stopped experimenting because we feel it could threaten, or worse, upend our current situation.  We have settled on our best practices and forgotten that experimentation is a needed practice for testing new business ideas, concepts, ways of working, and supporting products.  It is essential to remain profitable and marketable.

Here are a few suggestions for overcoming the experimentation fear:

  1. Identify weaknesses or areas for improvement and make the experiment specific to these.
  2. Research several products/methods that could meet the “criteria” of fixing #1.  If you are antsy, pick three – one that is “safer,” one that is a bit more cutting edge, and one that is bleeding edge.
  3. Timebox your experiment.  Stick to a short cycle and have consistent “feedback loops” (Google it).
  4. Don’t consider “sunk cost” (Google it) for determining value of whether to adopt as a continuing process or tool or product.

Always be an experimenter and look for new ways to do work.  Remember that a failed experiment is just as important to your lifestyle of learning as is a successful one.  Your passion + your tool-belt + your ability to learn is what keeps you relevant.

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