As we at WTTA work with individuals and teams, it is becoming increasingly clear that the term ‘experimentation’ is perceived very differently by different people.

For some, experiments conjure images of mad scientists destroying test tubes. Something advanced, scientific and something they may ‘get wrong’. For others, experiments are primarily thought in their mind rather than physical events that they run.

So, to help clear up any confuse, and dispel any worries, this blog post is all about what experimentation mean to us at WTTA.

Our starting point is that if you watch young kids go about their wonderfully care free lives, you’ll notice that they do things with enviable spontaneity. My 3 year old will grab a pair of drum sticks and go around whacking everything in sight, including his siblings. As well as pushing the boundaries of what is and is not appropriate, he is also experimenting. He is wondering what sound the curtain will make compared to the window. Or whether the stick bounces off the hard floor more than the carpet. Or how hard he can hit himself on the head without it hurting.

From this we see that experimentation is a default state of being, right from an early age, even if we don’t realise it. When we buy new products or choose new holiday destinations we are doing so with an experiment in mind. Will these clothes fit me better than my other ones? Will this 3 bedroom Airbnb be better than the one I normally stay in? What will happen if I pressurise this keg of homebrewed beer twice as much as I did last time?

There is a creativity and curiosity to experimentation that, at least for us, make it as artistic as it is scientific. The daily experiments we run allow us to experience life in a different way, expanding our consciousness and therefore helping overcome biases.

Why then, when it comes to the workplace do we suddenly stop asking questions? Why do we feel nervous to challenge the status quo?

An experiment doesn’t need to be a radical change of something major, pinned to an investment outcome, to make it worthwhile. It shouldn’t necessarily require 3 layers of sign off before we get on and do something. Let’s allow ourselves to be curious at work, with the simplicity we had when we were younger.

“What happens if we tell our management team to self-serve delivery information from Jira?”

“Would I get more productivity from my team if I mandated that they spend an hour of their working day with their families?”

“What would happen if I collapsed these customer journeys and aligned their target measures?”

If you’re struggling to understand what experimentation means in your work context, start with this question; ‘what simple thing could I change today that might make tomorrow better?’.