6 Steps to Work Through an Experiment

In a world that is changing faster and faster, what got us here won’t get us where we need to go.  College Engineering graduates are now being told that by the time they are 2-5 years out of school all the “specialized” learning they have done in college will be out of date. How to think, how to solve a problem and how to experiment and learn your way forward will still be valuable, and those are the skills that many of us will come to rely on. At Interstates, we believe in pursuing a better way. This pursuit will require experiments and lots of them. Micro experiments and some big experiments. Having the knack to set up an experiment well helps us learn from it, and move forward more effectively.

As we teach teams to experiment their way forward we have found a model that is helpful to use. It’s not rocket science, but it does help keep us focused. It’s from a lean technique called Kata.

The following steps are how we work through an experiment:

  1. Understand the direction or overall challenge (say something like productivity improvement).
  2. Understand the current condition (what’s happening now, the results we are getting now).
  3. Establish the next target condition (what we want to happen….the results we want in this set of experiments).
  4. Brainstorm what might make a difference.
  5. Pick one to experiment that has potential to help.
  6. Experiment toward the target condition…(keep going, repeat steps 4-6 as needed, keep learning on each experiment loop).

You see the simplicity, but you will also note the intentionality in what we experiment on and how we learn each time. We are essentially learning ourselves into the future. It’s important to consider that most people care deeply about the work they do and want to improve. That’s why experimentation is fun and engaging for our teams. This is especially true for some of our more recent generations.

Go run a few experiments on what you think matters and could be better. Know what you want to happen. Keep experimenting and learning until you get what you want. And have some engaging fun with your team as you go – it’s a win-win! All you have to do as a leader is set it up.


Dave Crumrine, Interstates President


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