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Bat Bombs, Fight Club and Samual L Jackson for Experimentation

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Holla Holla readers, and a tip of the hat to those who've found their way here through word of mouth or maybe via Dave Ulrich's shout-out.

Since we last caught up, I've been a busy little bee prepping for my book launch and lining up guests for the Mindchimp podcast. I can't wait to spill the beans on the final guest list.

Project-wise, I've been rubbing elbows with an audit team, delving into the world of innovation and design thinking. We've been doing some team accounting and sizing up their current capabilities, while also applying these concepts to a challenge that's stickier than a toffee apple.

On top of that, I've kicked off a 14-week sprint, a no-holds-barred look at a joiner experience (no not just onboarding) it's way bigger than that, we are looking at the tech used to how we're reeling in the talent.. all this in a federated business, the word complex doesn't cover it.

I'm all ears about your goings-on. Don't be a stranger, drop me a line via email or LinkedIn

In this week’s email:

  • Bat bombs - To pivot or persevere with experimentation

  • Fightclub and Samual L Jackson - We don't talk about it

  • Culture Hack - Draw your roles for open conversations

Bat bombs & Experimentation

In the midst of World War II, an innovative idea took flight - the Bat Bomb. This radical weapon was the brainchild of a dental surgeon named Lytle S. Adams, who proposed the idea to the U.S. military. The concept was simple yet audacious: attach small explosive devices to bats, release them over Japanese cities, and let the bats roost in the wooden structures, thereby causing widespread fires. The best bit... the idea was given the green light and the experimentation began. The development process was fraught with challenges:

  • Bats had to be caught

  • Bats had to be tested for their load-carrying capacity

  • The explosive devices had to be designed

  • A delivery system had to be devised.

The team faced a huge number of setbacks, including bats escaping and causing a fire at an Army Air Base. Despite these hurdles, the team persevered, continually iterating and refining their design. However, after two years of experimentation and millions of dollars spent, the project was abruptly cancelled. The military decided to pivot and focus on another experimental weapon, something smaller you might not have heard of it... it's called the atomic bomb.

The story of the bat bomb serves as a potent reminder of the importance of experimentation. It highlights the need to constantly ask if are we going to persevere an experiment, whether are we going to pivot or whether are we putting the experiment to sleep.

If you have got here and terms like variables, assumptions and opportunity spaces for experimentation are a new language then stop reading and check this and this out first it will make this post more enjoyable and less confusing

So today am going to share with you everything you need to know about experimentation using maxims and the form of expressive dance… not really but, I am going to use two lead actors to explain it

The first rule of Fight Club is?

We don't talk about Fight Club (NSFW) but this isn't Fight Club it's Experiment Clubs yeah that's a pants name, anyway there are a few rules when it comes to designing an experiment:

Love Learning: It took 5,127 prototypes and years of learning from failures before James Dyson developed the vacuum that would make him a billionaire.

Lean and Mean: Distill your challenge down to its DNA - the core elements that make it up. That's where you want to experiment. For example, if you want more effective meetings, don't just say it - break it down. Are meetings running over? Is there a lack of structure? Are people not participating? Start designing experiments around these specifics. Zappos, in its early days, didn't stock its own inventory. Instead, they bought shoes from local retailers as orders came in. This lean approach allowed them to validate their business model before investing heavily in inventory.

Happy Scrappy: Create your experiment as quickly as possible. Don't wait for resources. Don't let the pursuit of perfection hinder good, scrappy progress. The launch of Groupon is a great example of scrappy work. The first version of the site was a WordPress blog, manually updated with deals. It wasn't pretty, but it allowed them to test their business idea quickly.

Doubt Means Do: If there's any doubt, there's no doubt - it's time for an experiment. If you have a point of view and someone else has a different one, recognize these as assumptions. It's ripe for an experiment - chances are, you're both wrong! Dropbox is an example of a company that used experiments to resolve doubts. They created a simple video explaining their product before building it, to see if people would be interested. The video went viral, validating their idea.

Magic Metrics: Experiments have feelings too, all experiments need measurement, both qualitative and quantitative. It's not just about numbers; feelings and experiences matter too.

Document the Journey: Everything is a thread, including your experiment. Document everything. In law enforcement, they call this the "chain of custody" - a trail that records the sequence of custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of evidence. Do the same for your experiments with experiment cards, experiment trackers, learning cards

What would Sam do?

When it comes to experimentation, I often find myself asking, "What would Sam L Jackson do?" This mantra reminds me of the three fundamental components of successful experimentation: Simplicity, Adaptability, and Motivation, or SAM for short.

(S)imple is the foundation of effective experimentation. The best experiments are those that are straightforward and easy to understand. There's no need for a 100-page manual or overly complex procedures. Like a well-delivered line by Sam L Jackson, your experiment should be clear, concise, and impactful.

(A)adaptability is the next key element. Your experiment needs to fit seamlessly into your daily routine. If it becomes a burden or additive to your day, it's likely to be abandoned. Just as Sam L Jackson adapts to any role he takes on, your experiment should adapt to your lifestyle and not the other way around.

(M)otivation. Your experiment needs to be achievable, even when your motivation is at its lowest. We've all had those days when even the simplest tasks, like cleaning the house or gardening, seem like a mountain to climb. Your experiment should be designed in such a way that it can be carried out even on these low-motivation days.

So, the next time you're designing an experiment, ask yourself, "What would Sam L Jackson do?" Keep it Simple, make it Adaptable, and ensure it's Motivating. That's the SAM way to successful experimentation!

To close off the mini-series of experimentation in the next email I'll walk you through what the chain of custody looks like for experimentation.

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