Innovation through experimentation sounds scary for many enterprises and perhaps impossible for their employees. Although it may sound this way, innovation within enterprises is very possible — we have many happy clients (and successful research) to prove that it’s possible to innovate with a bit of courage and good methods.
You see, experimentation isn’t really about guesswork or trying as many things as possible until you find the right fit; to have success you’ll need a mix of planning, the good old scientific method, and especially socialization in order to effectively bring innovation and get buy-in from stakeholders.
As non-innovative as it sounds, innovation needs to be formulaic, to have steps, and to follow a process. That process works best when disclosed to everyone and approved by stakeholders. Like most plans, the steps for innovation involve the following: initiative goals that tie-in to large company goals, trackable metrics and targets, people involved, operational tools, applications, and processes that are identifiably impacted. Good planning gets everyone on the same page and prevents surprises.
Hypothesize and Start Small
Most design initiatives should have an upfront conversation regarding the big picture, but you need to quickly find some bite-size chunks (pragmatic areas to tackle) when you start the experimentation process. This gets people comfortable and can demonstrate value early on.
Part of this process should also include creating a set of hypotheses so you can test them, and determining your thesis. If it sounds like a very loose scientific process, it is. We create a series of workshops with stakeholders and generate a large number of assumptions. An example assumption might be that users are pleased with feature A, B, and C, but are displeased with feature X, Y, and Z. Then, as a small design team we group them into a series of hypotheses that we can validate during our experimentation. We ensure all stakeholders are aligned with the hypotheses and understand the experiment method we’ll use to validate them. Following our experiment, we organize our findings by hypotheses and identify what as a group we were right about or wrong about. In the end, each experiment should identify a set of impacts to your team, process, product, or service.
As UX designers, we are naturally deeply invested in empathizing with users. It’s also good to remember that empathizing with colleagues, managers, and executives brings greater alignment to the innovation table
One of our largest clients uses experimentation in enterprise healthcare according to individual initiatives — something like fifteen unique and seemingly unrelated conceptual designs. They take those out to key clients knowing many will fail. This helps reduce the potential innovations down to a more manageable number, like five. Then the process is repeated and the number reduces again. It’s only after the process has isolated one or two solid ideas that full resources are devoted to building a product.
So if you start with smaller experiments, each built on a distinct hypothesis, you will start to build a bigger picture of how potential innovation will impact your organization.
Socialize Through Storytelling
Stories are the fundamental way humans understand change, and narratives help people understand stories. Stories also take place to trigger the imagination and creativity in ourselves. So, you’ll best present the results of your experimentation within the dynamic lens of a storyboard.
Sadly, as UX designers, we get stuck in process a lot. We focus on too many operational or process-oriented details. While details are important, the overall picture is often more important. It’s especially paramount when you are trying to experiment and innovate internally for a larger organization. As UX designers, we are naturally deeply invested in empathizing with users. It’s also good to remember that empathizing with colleagues, managers, and executives brings greater alignment to the innovation table. Storytelling is a way to ensure we are focusing on the big picture results of our work, while at the same time engaging the imagination and creativity of our audience as they envision new ways to operate, build, and scale the success of their services. It makes all of our hard work – not to mention those important details – more relatable and actionable to a large organization.
Insight at Scale
- Finding the right research candidates
- Selecting and conducting the right research in a business setting
- Produce research findings reports with impact