Whether you sell a service, a product, or content, you’re creating value for your customer base – and every interaction with your product online is a measurable amount of value.
To understand and utilize this, implement well-executed A/B testing, which involves, at its core, showing different user experiences to different users to measure the impact of those differences.
- Keep the team small. You only need an engineer, a designer/front-end developer, and a business analyst to perform tests. Make sure that your product person has the skills to analyze tests promptly.
- Test small changes. If you’re spending a lot of time creating a test, you’re doing it wrong. Find the smallest possible amount of development you can do to create a test based on your hypothesis; one variable at a time is best.
- When a test fails, don’t give up. Instead, learn what happened (which metric did move?), and use that to inform future iterations. Keep a backlog of previously run tests, and re-test ideas later.
Adapted from “ A/B Testing and the Benefits of an Experimentation Culture” by Wyatt Jenkins.
Difficult conversations are an inevitable part of any manager’s job.
Here are three steps to keep those tough conversations productive, not combative:
- Decide on a realistic outcome. Remember, you and your counterpart may want different things. Think about your desired outcome rather than accomplishing everything on your personal agenda.
- Focus on the future. What is your ultimate goal? Describe it and the benefits of your vision. If this is a review conversation, explain how you’d like to work with your employee going forward.
- Identify what’s in the way. With the future as your backdrop, articulate what is interfering with reaching the goal. This helps to keep the conversation away from personal barbs and focused on making positive changes.
Adapted from “How to Disarm Combative Conversations” by Holly Weeks.
Two basic kinds of urgency have a way of infiltrating organizations. One stems from fear or anxiety and creates panic. The other is triggered by big opportunities and can create momentum. To execute new strategies and achieve real change, the latter must be prevalent. Opportunity-driven urgency can create powerful and sustainable action; it can inspire people to be proactive and think beyond what their day jobs require of them.
The opportunity must be real, clear, and thoroughly communicated in order for this kind of energy to permeate an organization – people must understand the goal before they can work toward it. And if you think your business has no opportunities to create true urgency to drive employees, put a group of smart managers or execs in a room. If you facilitate the right kind of discussion for a day, they will come up with a clear and emotionally compelling opportunity statement.
Adapted from “To Create Healthy Urgency, Focus on a Big Opportunity” by John P. Kotter.
During an interview, it’s easy to be influenced by traits like eloquence or charm that have no real bearing on work performance. And it’s frustrating when those hires ultimately don’t work out. One way to avoid this is by augmenting your hiring process with auditions. After résumé screening and initial interviews, invite final candidates to work with you for a few weeks (with pay) and perform real tasks alongside potential future colleagues. This allows you to evaluate them and provide feedback, while giving candidates the chance to size up your company.
The tryout process might seem over-the-top, but it excels as a filter to identify the people who will truly succeed at your company. If weeks-long auditions aren’t right for your workplace, you still may be able to enhance your interview process with other assessments, like a short-term trial, a presentation, or an assignment.
Adapted from “The CEO of Automattic on Holding “Auditions” to Build a Strong Team” by Matt Mullenweg.
Just because a company can offshore a portion of its operations doesn’t mean it always should. Recent research shows that although there are benefits to moving aspects of a business abroad (e.g. savings), the costs may add up over time through increased organizational complexity – and at a certain point, the move could be counterproductive. Global competition puts pressure on firms to relocate certain arms, even research and development, overseas. (With nations like China ramping up their innovative capacities, why stop at offshore manufacturing or customer support?)
But research suggest that offshoring too much of a firm’s innovation is likely to be costly, because it can hinder a firm’s ability to adapt to changing environments, which can affect performance. So keeping R&D on home turf can be beneficial in a world where innovation cycles grow shorter and developing new technologies more difficult.
Adapted from “Research: Don’t Offshore Your R&D” by Walter Frick.
Asking a lot of questions is one behavior that successful innovators share. Instead of just rushing to take action, posing questions helps you crystallize the entire innovation process by improving your ability to spot new growth opportunities, pinpoint disruptive threats, and more.
Consider using questions like these to increase your odds of success:
- What problem is the customer struggling to solve? If people are spending time or money trying to solve a problem (and existing solutions fall short), there’s no clearer sign of an opportunity for innovation.
- Who has already solved this problem? It’s likely that someone has already found a solution in a different industry, country, or company. Gaining inspiration from their successful approach can speed up your process.
- What can you do that few other companies in the world can do? Zero in on what makes you unique (a trusted brand, access to a distribution channel, technological know-how) to maximize the chances of creating a powerful and compelling offering.
Adapted from “Eight Essential Questions for Every Corporate Innovator” by Scott Anthony.
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