Sunday, October 31, 2021


 In the recent memory, one of the most cited cases in the world of digital transformation has been that of GE Digital. An extremely ambitious bet about building a software business that would help customers get more efficiency of their investments in industrial equipments. Unfortunately, most of the analysts label this as an initiative that didn't reap expected rewards for the company.

In retrospect, then GE CEO Jeff Immelt opines that "I had a team and a process that was setup for scale, not for experimentation. I wish I'd start small, with an entrepreneurial team, and got it started under the radar. And after they found early success, then I could apply the scale that GE was so good at."

It is often said that hindsight is 20/20 but I really find it fascinating how the outcome of one of the world's largest digital transformation projects is attributed to these 2 phrases- 'Starting small' and 'Appetite for Experimentation.'

CEO of Expedia group, Mark Okerstrom- a company known to run multitude of experiments said- “In an increasingly digital world, if you don’t do large-scale experimentation, in the long term—and in many industries the short term—you’re dead."

Despite these cases and learnings, building a culture of experimentation does not get as much press as it should. Recently, while reading an insightful book "Ask Your Developer" by Jeff Lawson (Twillio CEO), I was excited to find a chapter dedicated to experimentation. I have in included my sketchnote summary of learnings here. Key learnings:

1. Metaphorically speaking, experiments are not like Lottery tickets though there is a chance element associated with them but (unlike lottery) experiments can be improved by applying relevant skills.

2. After you run experiment, one of three things can happen. You strike gold; you strike out; or you find yourself somewhere in the fuzzy middle. Don't penalize failed experiments. Do reward successful experiments with more resources.

3. Never harm a customer in the process of doing experiments.

In the end, experiments are less about success or failure, more about accelerated learning. Building a culture of experimentation requires multi-layered approach- education (i have rarely come across training programs on experimentation), building psychological safety for employees and the appetite for risk-tasking.

What do you think ?

#innovation #experimentation

My Sketchnote:

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