It seems today that everyone is enthralled with conducting experiments. Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, even “non-innovative” people are throwing around the idea of experiments and betas. Well, allow me to evolve the old saying – When the boy bagging your groceries has experiment tips for you, it is time to get out. And if not get out of experimentation and alphas/betas all-together, at least step back and gain some perspective.
Life – not business life or home life, but capital “L” Life – is all about learning and improving. It is pointless, frustrating, and dangerous to repeat processes without learning how or why they work or don’t. The name of the game is learning, and our scorecard is data. Collecting information leads to analyzing it, which can lead to insight.
It feels like there is an experiment bubble going on right now in the broad entrepreneurial ecosystem. Blame it on the wide dissemination of sound principles and teachings, but the fact remains that many new products teams are betting on their ability to experiment their way into finding a market. That is not business, that is hoping for luck.
Now sometimes you can collect information yourself by looking at the past. And yes, sometimes you’ll want to collect information by conducting experiments. My point is that experiment itself is not a desirable end goal or state of being. It is a method, a tool. Hammers are sometimes helpful, sometimes not. The skill comes in learning when a hammer or experiment is useful. Experiments are great and valuable if you know exactly what you are using them for and why.
It is not enough to always be testing. It is enough to always be collecting data. There are two very different things, and the best innovators know the difference.
This was a featured post that originally appeared on Frequency Group