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We talk about doing experiments a lot in the innovation space and I personally get asked about this a lot. A major problem I see with some businesses is they don’t know what they should be experimenting with: experiments around what?
I was just listening to Andy Sernovitz interview Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh about his new book Delivering Happiness. One of the things that he talked about was how they do experiments and I think it highlights an important point: The Zappos brand is all about customer service, so their experiments are focused on improving their customer service.
Whether this is by design for them I don’t know, the points is that if you don’t know what you stand for then you have ways to go but if you do then you know where to focus your efforts. The no. 1 search engine on the planet, Google, runs hundreds of small experiments to improve their search engine because they know users expect the best search results all the time. What these experiments look like we don’t know but the fact is companies make experiments and they expect most of them to fail in one way or another and that’s also important.
Do like Zappos, appreciate the value of experiments to improve your core business and don’t be afraid to fail. Try a lot of stuff and keep what works!
I haven’t read the book yet but in the meantime the 18 minute interview is well worth listening to, listen and learn.