In this ProductTank Sofia talk, Merissa Silk, Senior Staff Product Manager at Onfido, provides 10 guiding principles when doing product experiments and when bringing the culture of experimentation to your team.
Consistent growth relies on experimentation. It can take different formats in modern organisations, from A/B and multivariate testing to alpha, beta, and hypothesis-driven development. No matter what format or layout you use, you’ll run into hurdles if you’re a product manager driving change.
Watch the video to see Merissa’s talk in full, or read on for an overview of her key points:
- Let the vision lead
- Create a new vocabulary
- plan, but only a little
- Tell a story
- Learn to love “I don’t know”
- Prioritize the experiment
- Park questions about the future
- Do all the things
- Keep your stakeholders involved
- Have fun
Why do teams fail to experiment?
Merissa list some reasons why teams often fail to experiment:
- They don’t know what to deliver or the stakeholder’s expectations
- Both experimentation and innovation have become bad words
- Proposing news of working scares people and organizations
- Extensive pressure to deliver positive outcomes
How do you experiment or even innovate to find your way to success when the odds are against you?
10 guiding principles for product experiments
Merissa explains her 10 guiding principles for developing a culture of experimentation in your team:
Let the vision lead
Start by aligning with your products’ vision. Merissa says clear product visions can help teams stay focused and organized. Also, it reassures your stakeholders and enables you to make improved decisions.
Create a new vocabulary
Merissa explains that words are crucial: the wrong ones can adversely affect your project, so choose your vocabulary wisely.
For instance, instead of “innovation project,” Merissa says it may be better to call it an experiment. This way, you can work out of the box without fear of failing.
Plan, but only a little
Building a plan for product experiments can be tricky. While you have to satisfy stakeholders, you also require flexibility to change. Planning or dividing the experiment into short research phases is the best way forward, in Merissa’s experience.
Tell a story
Don’t forget to tell your story. Merissa says it’s essential to show stakeholders what you have done so far. In addition to showcasing outcomes and the next steps, explain the process.
Learn to love “I don’t know”
Merissa explains that one major challenge with experiments is the volume of unknowns, so make sure that you embrace them. This way, you can create the culture of trust and safety that is integral to any project’s success.
Prioritise the experiment
Design experiments to improve learning. Often, it means you have to compromise on user experience (UX) to get what you want. Prioritise experimentation and testing over everything else.
Park questions about the future
While a future-focused approach is a key to successful product delivery, Merissa says it can have an adverse effect on your experiment. It’s better to park questions related to the future.
Do all the things
Merissa explains you can perform exceptionally well even if you have few ‘t-shaped’ individuals in your team. Everyone should step up and multitask during a product experiment.
Keep your stakeholders involved
Poor stakeholder attendance can negatively affect your team’s morale, so you must ensure your stakeholders are involved in the experiment. Give them tours or invite them personally to increase their interest.
Trying something new can be emotionally charged, challenging and scary. Building a reliable and trusting relationship within the team is crucial to an experimentation culture. So don’t forget to have fun. As Merissa says, happy teams are productive teams.
The key takeaway from this ProductTank talk is that you can seamlessly promote an experimentation culture within your team by following these 10 guiding principles. This will lead to increased productivity and revenue.
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