True confession: I was a scientist. I say that because that’s what I did two degrees in, and my early career was spent in that realm. I wouldn’t describe myself that way anymore, but there is one thing about science that suited me perfectly. I’m very curious. And my curiosity is both eclectic and broad. My innate curiosity has served me very well in business. It can serve you too. The basis of all science is curiosity. “I wonder what would happen if…” is behind every discovery and exploration. Business is like the experiments scientists do: you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You may have evidence from previous experience, or see what someone else has done. But until you try it, you won’t know if it will work in your business. That level of uncertainty can be so uncomfortable!
So let’s lighten things up by taking a different approach. An approach that is based in science. No need to turn in your comfy togs or your business attire in favor of a lab coat. This kind of experimentation can be done without all the scientist trappings. It’s also not at all as grim as the serious scientist in the photo. In fact, experimenting can be fun!
REFRAME FOR A BETTER OUTCOME — Begin by re-framing your choices. Ask, “I wonder what would happen if…”, instead of, “Will this succeed or fail?”. Feels lighter already, doesn’t it? You don’t have the weight of failure on you. Rather, you’re simply asking a question. The answer, either way, will tell you something important. All you’re doing is conducting an experiment!
DEFINE YOUR QUESTION — Now, ask your question: What would happen if [fill in the blank]? What would happen if: I reach out to this new potential customer group? We add a pop-up on our website? We create a process for how to handle customer complaints so that they are all addressed in the same way? Once you define your question, specify what you’re going to observe and how long you’ll observe. Observations are the data that you collect that help you answer your question. These observations can be quantitative, monitoring numbers, like the response to your social media ads, or qualitative, like watching people’s reactions when you talk about your core message. You can have more than one way of collecting data. For example, you may want to track how many people lit up when you talked about a possible new offering, and how many remained neutral, as well as how many signed up. Whatever you choose, be consistent about how you collect each kind of data. Now start your experiment, and observe the outcomes.
STICK TO THE METHOD — Here’s one more thing about science that will help you in your business: It’s tempting, especially when things aren’t working, to change 10 things at once. It’s the scattershot approach, with the hope that something will work. Therefore, it’s hard to know which one (or more) of the 10 things you changed made the difference. One of the reasons marketing can be so frustrating is that it’s often hard to project whether a marketing effort will work. That’s because most marketing has many variables, things that are changeable in a way you can’t control. Instead, minimize the variables. Become more methodical. According to the scientific method, when you’re conducting experiments, you only change one thing at a time. That way, when you get a different outcome, it’s likely due to that one thing you changed. How clarifying that is! It’s the accumulation of data from multiple experiments that will start to fill in the story. For example, if you see a gradual increase in response over multiple social media ads as you show more videos of you talking, it suggests that people respond to seeing you and your energy.
SCIENCE STILL LETS YOU BE CREATIVE — Doing these experiments doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired and creative. Science is actually quite creative! Your creative ideas can be tested in one experiment at a time, to see if they have the effect you thought they would. Your creative ideas actually can achieve greater traction, because you know what’s behind your success. Keep experimenting and implementing to find out what works. As you conduct each new experiment, you move closer to clarity, which gives you an opportunity to increase your success. Business is dynamic, ever changing. So, your experimentation will be ongoing. Using scientific principles can take some of the uncomfortable heat off of you as you experiment and explore. Your curiosity will take you to some amazing places in your career, and you’ll have more impact.