Episode 16: Running The Experiment

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Josh Allan Dykstra is a recognized thought leader on the future of work and company culture design. He is an author, TEDx speaker, and the CEO of #lovework, where they use technology to help heal burnout and create astonishingly great places to work.

Today I have something a little different here on my face — it’s a pair of blue light filtering glasses.

I don’t actually need to wear these to see you — I also have contact lenses in — but I noticed a few weeks ago how fatigued my eyes were feeling with all the additional screen time I’m putting in these days.

So I picked up a pair of these! 

I’m not sure yet how much they will help, but I thought it would be an experiment worth running. 

And this is what I want to talk about today — the notion of running experiments.

I first fell in love with this phrase — “run the experiment” — when I visited Menlo Innovations in Anne Arbor, Michigan years ago. 
They used this phrase as a kind of “guiding principle” to help their software developers self-manage. 

I immediately borrowed this phrase and brought it back to Helios.

It’s been a tremendously helpful “North Star” behavioral principle for the way we work ever since.

And I suspect that maybe it could help you and your work, too.

This seems especially true as ALL of us roll into a more uncertain future than any of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

As the nature of work continues to evolve — in many ways faster than we’ve ever seen — it becomes more and more important for every single person to be able to self-manage. 

As we discussed a few episodes ago, this is especially important in a work-from-home context, but I believe it’s equally relevant for work of all kinds.

No matter their role, people who have the ability and autonomy to self-manage simply serve customers better.

Also, as a side note, this is another appropriate usage of the word “manage” — when I learn to manage myself. 

I’M the person that should know how and when to pull back the reins on me… that’s no one else’s job but mine, and it’s a skill I have to work on to do effectively.

This leads us back to running experiments.

Because self-managing isn’t our default way of working now. Most of us aren’t used to having to manage ourselves, so we need new principles that can help us know HOW to do this.

When we install this “run the experiment” code into our workplace operating system, it’s easier for people to start managing themselves because they know what to do without having to get layers and layers of permission — they just go try things.

Doesn’t it sound nice for the default path in your company to be people solving their own problems?

And, we’ve found that people who do this LOVE it — because humans are inherently creative beings who want to use their brains to do great work.

Another bit of language that helps with this is the phrase “Safe to try.”

You can put this in a question, like: “Is this — process, idea, whatever thing I want to do — safe for us to try?”

If it doesn’t feel that way, the next inquiry becomes “How do we quickly get it to ‘safe to try’ status, so we can, you guessed it, run the experiment?”

You don’t need any fancy glasses to give this a try — so I hope you’ll experiment with running the experiment.

See you next time!

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