The Lean Experiment Exercise

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In this exercise, you learn how to validate an assumption by turning it into a testable hypothesis. The goal is to better understand what is needed to define an experiment and to learn from it.

Duration: 20 minutes
Group size: 2 to 8 people
Requirements: Lean Experiment Template
Presence: collocated or online

Before you start: get a copy of the Lean Experiment Template

You can get a copy from a facilitator, or you can download it for free after becoming a member of the Shiftup Program. In the case of an online workshop, it is useful to have this template already printed before you start.

There are two versions of this exercise. If you are in a workshop, do version A. If you are doing this exercise at your company, do version B further below.

Version A (workshop context)

1. Individual brainwriting

Do this first step individually, for three minutes.

Each group member does the same: think of ways in which you believe a workshop experience can be improved for all participants. What would be useful? What would be valuable? What would be worth trying? (In a collocated setting, you can write your ideas on sticky notes. In an online workshop, you can type private notes on your computer.)

2. Collect and choose ideas

From this step forward, work as a team.

As a group, collect and briefly explain the various ideas from team members at the table. Pick just one idea that together you believe would be most valuable. (In a collocated setting, you can share and compare sticky notes. In an online workshop, you can share the private notes in the chat window or on a digital whiteboard.)

3. Define hypothesis

The idea you picked is an assumption for an improvement. Use the Lean Experiment Template to turn it into a testable hypothesis.

Your test is allowed to run for hours or even until the end of the day or the next session. It is your decision whether or not to make the other teams aware of which tests you are running.

For example:

We believe participants appreciate book recommendations. We will know we’re wrong when we maintain a flip chart with book titles mentioned during the class and as a result get fewer than two people taking a photo of it.

4. Implement the test

You have chosen a test to run during the workshop. (You may want to keep your hypothesis and test secret. You don’t want the other teams to influence the test results inadvertently.)

Take responsibility for doing the tests and report back to the whole group what the outcomes are of your tests. The facilitator may ask you what the best time is for discussing your test results.

For a workshop, you must pick a test that generates results on the same day (for collocated workshops) or before the next session (for online classes).

5. Evaluate the lean experiments

When the time is right, discuss the test results from your lean experiments with the whole group

 

Version B (company context)

Everyone has experience with boring, uninspiring meetings. In this exercise, you run an experiment to improve the next company meeting.

1. Individual brainwriting

Do this first step individually, for three minutes.

Each group member does the same: think of ways in which you believe a meeting can be improved for all participants. What would be useful? What would be valuable? What would be worth trying?

2. Collect and choose ideas

From this step forward, work as a team.

As a group, collect and briefly explain the various ideas from team members at the table. Pick just one idea that together you believe would be most valuable.

3. Define hypothesis

The idea you picked is an assumption for an improvement. Use the Lean Experiment Template to turn it into a testable hypothesis.

Your test is allowed to run for a week. It is your decision whether or not to make meeting participants aware of which tests you are running.

For example:

We believe participants appreciate a meeting warmup exercise. We will know we’re wrong when we do a warmup exercise at the start of the next company meeting and as a result get an average “fist-of-five rating” of 4.0 or lower at the end of the meeting.

4. Implement the test

You have chosen a test to run during the next company meeting. (You may want to keep your hypothesis and test secret. You don’t want the meeting participants to influence the test results inadvertently.)

Take responsibility for doing the tests and report back to the whole group what the outcomes are of your tests.

5. Evaluate the lean experiments

When the time is right, discuss the test results from your lean experiments with the whole group.


By reading this article, you made progress toward your Agility & Innovation Qualification. Report your results here and collect your experience points!


This exercise is part of the Shiftup Business Agility & Innovation Leader workshop. An official workshop is a fun and easy way to earn 33% of the required experience points. Check out our calendar here.

 

Lean Experiment Template - Shiftup