Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

Stefan H. Thomke. Harvard Business Review, $32 (256p) ISBN 978-1-633-69710-2
The secret to business success is to test everything, writes Harvard Business School professor Thomke (Experimentation Matters) in this helpful look at using fresh information, not old assumptions, to drive the development of new products and services. Managers often lack the data to make strategic decisions, he finds, so they fall back on personal experience, emotions, and intuition—and, as one of Thomke’s interviewees tells him, “we see evidence every day that people are terrible at guessing.” Companies that employ rigorous experimentation and make good use of the results, on the other hand, gain a competitive edge, illustrated by such examples as 3M, Booking.com, and Amazon. Thomke finds numerous Jeff Bezos quotes on the subject, including on why “failure and invention are inseparable twins,” and gives significant space to explaining how organizations can build experimentation into workflow and foster a culture that nurtures it. He also breaks down what makes for worthwhile experiments (such as whether a testable hypothesis is involved), and how to use those experiments to make better informed decisions. This is a thorough, encouraging guide for leaders looking for ways to encourage their teams to fail early and often in the service of ultimate success. (Feb.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review mistakenly referred to this book as the author's first.

Reviewed on : 11/26/2019
Release date: 02/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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