Experimentation is Key to Success in Today’s Venture Climate

Scott Berkun wrote a great post about experimentation and asks if you’re doing it in your company.

Recently, there has been a ton of talk about venture problems and what makes the best venture architecture (bootstrap or venture backed). Putting all that nonsense aside for a minute I want to talk about experimentation. In emerging markets where there are more unknowns then knowns (and no great use case scenarios) you need to run experiments to get information.

Some venture investors confuse this tactic with the founders overall business vision, strategy, plan, and metrics.

Get information and requirements to reduce your risk for the investment in a new venture. This is independent of the financing strategy of bootstrap or venture capital. I love talking to entrepreneurs who have long range plans then run experiments to get more clear information.

Scott writes: “One of the most tragic things I hear in management circles is this:

“I want to make a breakthrough happen. I really really do. But I don’t want to take any risks. How do I do that?”

If I’m honest, and say “Well that’s nice. It’s just, you see, well, it’s fundamentally impossible.” They walk away in search of another author dude who’s willing to pretend it isn’t.

The principle at work here is knowledge capture: if an innovation is something new, or something you haven’t done yet, you have to capture the knowledge and skills needed to do it. An experiment is one of the few ways to capture knowledge you don’t have. If there are no experiments, you are repeating yourself, and can’t possibly be putting new ideas into practice.”

For all entrepreneurs and strategic managers Scott Berkun’s article is an important read. I would add that if you raise venture capital make sure you’re venture partner (the guy/gal AND the firm) are crystal clear on difference between your vision/plan and experiments.

Some venture guys might confuse your experiments with what your venture vision is. When you have confused venture guys there is no good outcome – trust me.