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Every Organization is a Social Experiment

Every business or nonprofit organization is a social experiment being run by its leaders.

Born out of our experience, most of us believe “I can do better than my old boss,” and so the experiments begin, often with little consideration of how our approach will directly impact our teams, our customers’ experiences, or our business outcomes.

  • Examples:
    “My parents could never balance their checkbook, so I’m going to run my business with military precision.”
  • “I want to run my business as a high performance team! No slackers on my team! We’re all going to be running marathons and pushing ourselves at all times!”
  • “I want to run my business as a creative collective where we collaborate and have coffee together. We’ll make money with our imaginations.”

A number of questions arise:

  • How conscious are we of the operating metaphors we’re using?
  • How conscious are we of the hypotheses we’re testing?
  • How conscious are we of the variables we are trying to control and experiment with?
  • How are we tracking our results?
  • How scientific are these experiments that we’re running?
  • Are we getting feedback from the people on the frontlines?
  • What’s the feedback from customers? Are we asking them, “What is your experience of interacting with our organization?”
  • Are we consciously learning from the feedback we are getting and incorporating that into our next round of experiments?
  • How are these experiments affecting the health and well-being of the human beings involved?

My goal is to become at once more scientific, more creative, and more humane in our experiments.

Scientific breakthroughs come when great human intuition and creativity are applied to new data. This new thinking creates a new model or hypothesis for explaining data and for seeing causal links between variables. New hypotheses are then methodically tested to see what else can be learned. See Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now for a lot more on this or see his TED talk here.

In business, we run experiments all the time, tweaking variables in people, processes and systems. We are always in pursuit of creating improved employee and customer experiences.

Businesses are about creating great experiences. Those that create great experiences for staff and customers are successful. Businesses that do not create great experiences suffer along with their customers and employees.

This leads us to a few more questions:

  • What experiments are you running right now?
  • How is it going so far?
  • How are you collecting data about how this is working for your organization, i.e., financial data and other performance data, CSAT, ESAT, NPS data?
  • How are your experiments impacting your team, your customers or your partners?
    What experiments would you like to run but have not started yet?

The Humane Leadership Conference is about becoming better scientists–more conscious, more analytical, and more creative. If we become better scientists, learning how to generate higher performance by being more humane with each other, then we all win.

That’s the experiment that I’m interested in running.

If that sounds interesting to you, the Humane Leadership Conference is gathering leaders to refine and peer review our learnings to better understand how humane leadership can drive higher performance in our organizations and in our lives. Click here to find out more.

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