Stop Changing, Start Experimenting

Experimenting-and-mastering-a-new-skillThis weekend I read an interview of Dave Gray with Jurgen Appelo. The entire interview is worth reading, but what struck me most was the last part of the article:

  • “The main thing people should be doing is experimenting, try something.”
  • “There is no Golden Rule, no Holy Grail, no silver bullet to better organizations.”
  • “Better organizations are created by people who are not afraid to try something, even very weird practices, and not afraid to fail but just learn from the experiences.”
  • “Never introduce a change in the organization. You should offer people an experiment.
  • “Don’t tell them, “I’m going to change you,” because then people will resist. You should tell them, “I have this experiment that I want to run with you. Would you like to play with me?”
  • “Offer an idea as an experiment, because even if it works for 100 other organizations out there, for you it will still be an experiment that you have to validate to see if it also works for you. Then it becomes less dangerous for people and they’re not confronted with it, confronted with the change, but instead they will offer an interesting experiment to be a part of. Hell, everyone wants that.”

I can only wholeheartedly agree with this. From the perspective of an Agile Coach, you should never be the owner of an experiment. You can offer ideas to experiment with, but the customer should always be the owner or the sponsor, the person who is 100% committed to make the experiment a success.

The term experiment is associated with fun, excitement and collaboration. It generally creates a positive vibe and also emphasizes the fact that the outcome isn’t known beforehand. Together we are going to experiment and discover the outcome. Due these associations its generally easier to create support for experiments than for (organizational) changes.  Because somehow “changes” have a different, more negative vibe. The well known “everybody wants change but nobody wants to change.”

If you want to introduce experiments in your organization there are some great templates available for tracking them, for example:

These templates give you a great overview off all the ongoing experiments, it also invites everyone who is involved and/or interested to discuss the progress and determine next steps.

So in short: stop changing, start experimenting!

Have fun!