How to Encourage Experimentation at the Workplace

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The fast-paced advancement of AI technologies is driving digital transformation across industries. It’s here to stay. Fail to use it and your organization will fall by the wayside. According to Marketing Interactive, Asia Pacific organizations will be entering 2024 with a focus on maximizing generative AI to leverage legacy opportunities and growth opportunities. The upcoming year is starting to look like a frantic competition on who wields artificial intelligence best. In this context of digital transformation, where does a culture of experimentation fit? Before we answer that question, let’s look at the benefits of experimentation first. 


The Benefits of Experimentation 


Experimentation in any organization involves questioning the status quo, trying new things, and embracing change. Such a culture drives organizational agility and innovation which are highly consequential in this period of digital transformation. It makes a whole lot of sense to foster a culture where people can freely adopt new approaches to ever-evolving workplace realities. Some benefits of a culture of experimentation include: 


  • Saving money. By conducting small-scale trials of new ideas or processes before full implementation, companies can avoid costly scaling mistakes. 


  • Fueling curiosity. Encouraging experimentation stimulates intellectual curiosity, leading to a broader knowledge base within teams. Fresh perspectives lead to innovative solutions and approaches, which in turn can drive significant business growth. 


  • Boosting engagement. Employees who feel that their ideas are valued are more likely to stay engaged and remain within the company. 


 Where Experimentation Fits 


Experimentation without fear at the workplace is a sign of a healthy growth culture, something that the project management company, Asana, sought to execute. It reaped the benefits of experimentation when it collaborated with the Work Innovation Lab and the Marketing AI Institute to launch an internal initiative called the AI Brain Boost. The plan was for Asana’s marketers to experiment with AI at least once a day.  


The result? Participants were able to save time doing tasks thanks to AI efficiencies, overcome the fear of AI usage, and create new solutions using AI tools. Best of all, use cases and best practices were shared with other teams within the organization to entrench new learnings. It turned out to be a huge success. 


The lesson here isn’t about AI. It’s about adopting the right mindset towards experimentation—to formally allow your people to try something different, experiment with new tools, and take ownership of improving workflows. Doing all of these with full organizational support while removing fear from the equation is instrumental. 


Tips to Encourage a Culture of Experimentation 


Now that we understand how a culture of experimentation is pivotal in this time of digital transformation, let’s explore how to encourage this culture in your workplace. 


  • Start small. In the Asana example described earlier, the company launched the initiative specifically for its marketing team. There’s no need to initiate enormous, potentially risky experiments right from the start. Begin with small changes that have a low risk but high potential reward. 


  • Employee development. Re-skilling will remain important for years to come. Certis CHRO Dr. Jaclyn Lee points out that an organization’s competitive advantage in 2024 will come from the ability to integrate people, processes, and technology. Develop your workforce for the AI-driven workplace and empower them to plan for better workflow efficiencies. 


  • Brainstorming and openness. Get your team used to doing brainstorming sessions and reviewing ideas as a group. Promote a free flow of ideas without attaching names to contributions. Encourage all employees to voice their unique ideas, even if they don’t adhere to standard operating procedures. Diversity of thought breeds innovation.  


  • Avoid micromanagement. Give your people the necessary autonomy over their work. Don’t be too prescriptive or directive. Be humble enough to acknowledge gaps in your knowledge and expertise. Allow your people to step up and contribute their insights. 


  • Inspiring workspaces. Fully remote work has been decreasing in popularity and hybrid work is gaining momentum. According to the Qualtrics EX 2024 Report, employees prefer around 3 days at the office over no days spent at the office at all. Ensure your workplace surroundings encourage creativity, productivity, and thoughtfulness for onsite workdays. Make those days at the office count. 


Final Thoughts 


As organizations gear up for the AI-dominated future, the significance of embracing change and innovation cannot be overstated. When you approach experimentation with the right mindset and provide organizational support for it, you can yield substantial rewards. Let the above tips serve as your roadmap. In this era of constant change, organizations that prioritize experimentation are not just adapting to the future – they are actively shaping it. Embrace experimentation, empower your teams, and watch your workplace evolve into a hub of continuous innovation.


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