How to choose your next experiment

Internal workshop at Flowa – lots of ideas for the next new thing to pursue – but how do we decide what is the best guess for a new idea to validate?

With the rise of culture of experimentation, lean startup etc., many teams face the same problem. We would benefit from running one or two experiments at any one moment, but which ones to choose next? We might have a hunch that one path might lead to greater reward than another, but how to quickly build shared understanding of this?

Whether it is concepts for new products or ideas to improve our ways of working, we have this problem of choosing which ideas to proceed with. We have working practices for tracking the progress of experiments, like experiment boards and change walls, as well as reflecting and learning from our experiments. But how about choosing the right ones to carry out?

One answer is that making a decision swiftly is better than deliberating on it so just choose one. But there are ways to make a decision swiftly and to take advantage of wisdom of crowds at the same time. And to take into account our guesses, hunches and feelings from multiple perspectives: what might lead to great results, what is easy to experiment with and what motivates us.

Heart Voting

What we came up with in our internal workshop was something we call heart voting – expanded dot-voting to highlight different aspects of promising ideas.

We give 3 kinds of votes:

  • Stars for ideas we see having winner potential, whether it is solving a real world need or something people are willing to pay for (not always the same thing)
  • Dots for ideas we see as easy and quick to experiment with in practice
  • Hearts for ideas we love personally and would love to contribute to with our own work

We see an ideal candidate for experiment to score well in each of the votes.

Stars for Star Potential

Stars because we want to use the hunch of each of us whether this idea would be something the world really need or somebody would be willing to pay for (and preferably both).

Dots for Ease of Experimenting in Small Scale

Dots because we want to move fast from one experiment to another. So picking an idea that we think is easy to validate in practice is important.

Hearts for Passion for the Idea

Hearts because we only want to commit to experiments which we care about personally enough to pitch in. Intrinsic motivation and devotion is needed to achieve great things and this helps us to choose the experiments we feel deeply about.

How Did It Go?

As soon as we did our heart voting exercise, we felt we had lots of more information about how each of us rated the ideas we gathered. It was a pretty straightforward discussion to choose the one idea we wanted to proceed with.

Of course, that does not mean that this exercise helped us choose the idea that would surely end up being our next new product or business area. But we knew already that only working on ideas and trying to validate their potential as quick as we could would help us go forward in finding our next big thing.

Try It Out Yourself!

That is why we are very pleased with our heart voting practice and want to spread word about it. If you want to try it out as well, feel free to. Just please tell us how it went!

Antti Kirjavainen is an experienced coach and a linchpin. Antti is full of energy and has many interests – he is a knowledge work management thinker, product development coach, a Licensed Management 3.0 facilitator well as an active member of Agile Finland Ry, Agile4HR Finland and Agile Lean Europe network.

comments powered by Disqus