Review of Experimentation Works, The Surprising Power of Business Experiments, available to buy here from February 18th.

When it comes to improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. They discover that intuition, experience, and big data alone don’t work. What does? Running disciplined business experiments. And what if companies roll out new products or introduce new customer experiences without running these experiments? They fly blind.

That’s what Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke shows in this rigorously researched and eye-opening book. It guides you through best practices in business experimentation, illustrates how these practices work at leading companies, and answers some fundamental questions: What makes a good experiment? How do you test in online and brick-and-mortar businesses? In B2B and B2C? How do you build an experimentation culture? Also, best practice means running many experiments. Indeed, some hugely successful companies, such as Amazon, Booking.com, and Microsoft, run tens of thousands of controlled experiments annually, engaging millions of users. Thomke shows us how these and many other organizations prove that experimentation provides significant competitive advantage.

How can managers create this capability at their own companies? Essential is developing an experimentation organization that prizes the science of testing and puts the discipline of experimentation at the center of its innovation process. While it once took companies years to develop the tools for such large-scale experiments, advances in technology have put these tools at the fingertips of almost any business professional. By combining the power of software and the rigor of controlled experiments, today’s managers can make better decisions, create magical customer experiences, and generate big financial returns.

Review of Experimentation Works, The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

While on one hand it may seem self evident that trying stuff out is a good way to learn and potentially do things in a better, more effective way, it is important to actually have a meaningful structure and process for what you are doing. Thomke aims to ensure that you clearly understand what real experimentation is, rather than merely throwing darts into the dark, with no framework to evalute what is, and is not working.

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Many companies, especially the FANGs of the world are relentlessly, rapidly iterating, testing, learning, identifying 2% to 8% gains in small improvements, which, cumulatively make difference. An early chapter breaks down into micro elements the work carried out by team New Zealand in their battle to be the first non American winner of the America’s cup. As with all case studies it helps to more clearly understand the point that the author is making, and this chapter reads well.

Throughout the book the are further examples like this and useful chapters aimed at pointing you in the right direction such as: What Makes A  Good Business Experiment, Can your culture Handle Large Scale Experimentation, and Inside An Experimental Organisation. We found this book useful and a good aid to ensuring your own business remains relevant and forward looking in the fast changing times that all businesses need to accept and embrace now.

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