Illustration by Christian Leborg

Experiment

How to test the design of your work

To be able to test the new design of your work, assume that something is true as a result of your idea.

First, plan the execution of the experiments so that you can reduce the uncertainty of the idea. From the experiments, you will get evidence that either confirms or contradicts your assumptions, which you will learn more from. There are always different levels of strength in the evidence, which will make it easy for you to decide on actions. Manage all these activities.
In order to be able to predict reactions to the new type of work, you need to come up with some good hypotheses. You can determine strong hypothesis with the questions ‘What do I like?’, ‘What am I good at?’ and ‘Do they want this?’. The assumption is what you predict will happen. Prove that this is the case so that you can validate the hypothesis. Describe exactly what you think will happen, so that it is only one clear, detailed thing to validate.
Reduce your doubts
Design and carry out the experiments to reduce the risk of the idea not working. Facilitate cheap and fast experiments to learn quickly. Make the experiments so that evidence is not misleading. To carry out the experiment, you must state what you think will happen, perform the action and check whether it supports or rejects what you claimed. Measure it, and your assumptions are correct if the data measurements meet the criteria you have defined.
As an example from my work, I believe that professionals in the creative industries feel they do not have sufficiently significant and sustainable work. To confirm this, I will conduct a survey that I invite my Linkedin contacts to respond to. I want to ask them if they have a work purpose. In the same way, I want to investigate whether they feel they need to limit working hours and increase income. I would be right if more than one respondent confirms that their work is not meaningful or maintainable.
When you try different experiments on ideas of work design, you understand how experiments can help you reduce the risk of ideas not working. Instead of doing the work yourself, test the procedures on colleagues or clients. You will learn how to reduce your doubts step by step. This allows you to develop the idea at the right time and execute it with the right quality. A good experiment is precise enough that other professionals can replicate it and generate usable data from it.
Evidence and confidence
Evidence is what you used to confirm or disprove the hypotheses underlying your work idea. This is data you get from research or experiments. To test your work ideas, focus on the evidence of your work experiment, which we define as data generated from an experiment or collected in the field. Facts that confirm or contradict an assumption of different types can be weak or strong as quotes, behaviour, frequency of sales, and orders for small or large purchases.
You test ideas by conducting rapid experiments that allow you to learn and adapt.
–David Bland
Analyse the evidence you have gathered from several experiments with a particular assumption. By interviewing people, the evidence is weak, by performing trend analyses of people’s behaviour, the evidence is stronger. When people say things they think they would do, the evidence is weak. What they are actually doing is stronger. When people know you’re testing them, the evidence is weaker than if they were in an actual situation. That people register for information is weak proof, but it is strong proof to buy a product that you have not yet produced.
Your insight makes you understand how likely it is that your idea will work. You can be more confident when you have run several experiments. More experiments will give you increasingly stronger evidence for a particular assumption. Insight is the most important learning you get from analysing the data of the evidence. It is what you learn about the validity of an assumption of inventing something new. And insight is the basis for determining the work strategy and implementing it.
How strongly you believe in the idea shows how much your evidence confirms or contradicts a particular assumption. There are three aspects of experimentation that will define your confidence in it. It’s the type of evidence you get, it’s the number of data points you collect, and it’s the number of experiments you perform. More experiments are good, more and different experiments are better. You will be more confident if you perform experiments with increasing strength of evidence.

The five aspects of testing your work idea

• Assumption
• Experiment
• Insight
• Decision
• Administration

The most important decision
Once you are confident in the experiments, you need to turn learning into activities. To test your work ideas, the actions you take are the next steps in advancing testing and minimising the risk to your business idea. Decisions based on what you know are an action. The decision to leave or quit the idea, change the idea or continue testing and be patient with the idea on the design of work. These are the most important decisions you have to make.
Managing experiments
To administer the experiments, you must go through formal actions prescribed by a protocol or convention. This type of encounter results from experience, with experimentation as a repeatable process. The encounter can be a plan, a “standup”, discussions about learning, flashbacks, and decisions. You ensure the flow of the experiment by having a diagram to make the process visible, limiting the ongoing experiments and continuing the experimentation. By looking back at the process, you can gain new insight into the flow of experiments.
By testing your work ideas, you can determine if your stakeholders want you to do what you do. The testing can make you learn if it is possible to carry out the work and if the work is sustainable. To communicate this to people who are not part of the experiments, it is advisable to create guidelines for the process. These guidelines can show who the recipients are, the number of professionals involved, when the experiments took place, what type of information you collect, and the financial burden of the experiments.
Exercise: Come up with an idea of how you can test your design of work.