Accelerate value by creating an experimentation culture

27 June 2024 • 4 min read

A close up of a person sketching in a notebook

Organisations who are able to move quickly, who can innovate at speed tend to lead their sectors. Think of Amazon with their invention of the Kindle or Balenciaga with their culture leaps into Fortnite – these organisations know the value of experimenting, learning and moving fast.

This is reinforced by our recent research which found that 64% of CEOs would be willing to invest in new technologies without a clear return on investment if it meant keeping pace with industry innovation.

While this might be a risky proposition for many, there are still plenty of achievable steps that any organisation can take to create the kind of culture that accelerates value creation through continual innovation. In this blog, I share 4 ideas from my experience as a Creative Director and Experience Principal that are proven to kick start experimentation.


4 ideas to help you create a culture of experimentation


(1) Stop the HIPPO


Not a real hippo… the Highest Paid Person's Opinion. This is about ensuring digital product iteration is not driven by one or two opinions, but is driven by a hypothesis led testing process that engages the whole organisation or team.

A way to enable this is to start running what I call an ideas backlog. It’s a place to gather all the ideas, HIPPO requests and insights, where they can be turned into hypotheses. From there it’s a case of putting them through a prioritisation framework, and then to test and learn so you can ascertain its value. What I really like about this is that it encourages anyone within the business to be actively involved in the evolution of the product, to care about success and to feel empowered to bring ideas to the table.


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(2) Start with small experiments


Getting started doesn’t need to be arduous, there are easy ways to get going. But, before you do, make sure you have an understanding of:

  • Who your user or customer is
  • A set of assumptions or questions that you wish to understand
  • A view on what’s the most important thing you need to learn first

With these in place you’re ready to get going.

One of the most effective and easiest ways to start experimenting is through the use of sketches. Sketches allow you to quickly bring any idea to life. They support the creation of multiple variations and can be tested by simply showing them to users and asking for feedback.

These examples show sketches created for a travel client looking at notifications. We were able to collaborate with the client on many variants of design, of which the ones identified as most effective were then shown to users to validate that assumption.


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Sketching is one example but there are so many ways you can start to experiment. It’s just about choosing the methods that work best for your organisational context.


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(3) Create the right environment for experimentation


Your work environment plays a role in creating a culture where learning and experimenting can take place. What you see around you impacts your psyche, as does your company culture. 

A favourite example of an organisation who understands the impact of the physical environment is from Airbnb, whose conference rooms are designed to be replicas of favourite rentals. This is a genius idea. It means staff are immersed in the customer experience, helping them to be more empathetic with the user experience.

While we don’t all have Airbnb level budgets there will be simple things any organisation can do; such as displaying physical products, decorating rooms and displaying customer feedback.

In addition to the physical environment, work culture also plays a role. An example here is the value in having a culture of sharing inspiration, knowledge and best practices. Teams who engage in regular learning and are inspired by what their peers and others are doing are better placed to be able to bring that creativity and knowledge to their own work. Simple ways to do this are to run regular show & tells, communities of practice and making sure that everyone, no matter their level or position has their own learning pathway – something we very much do and value at AND.


(4) Be aware of the potential and impact of trends


Trends should influence your ideas. It’s not enough to know what users need or to review the data you have; your sphere of reference should span across culture, design and technology, as these will have a role in shaping the customer needs of the future.

A key trend for me is the impact of online gaming, in particular Fortnite. Gaming culture is huge for Gen Alpha with Fortnite being like the MTV of my generation. It’s more than a shooting game. It’s a social hang-out, culture creator and creative playhouse.

In 2023, Fortnite had 230 million monthly active players, with over 500 million registered players. It was reported that 77% of Fortnite players have invested in at least one in-game purchase making it a huge commercial platform which has attracted anything from brands like Lego to bands like Metallica. For these kids, digital collecting is as valuable and normal as the physical collections their parents made. Using currencies such as V-Bucks is also normal to them. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll have Burberry-Bucks driven from this trend as it moves out of category?

Understanding trends will help to inspire your teams to try more imaginative ideas, which ultimately could provide that competitive edge.


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