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Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

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When it comes to innovation, relying on intuition won't cut it anymore. Whether it's improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. This is especially true in the online world, where predicting customer behavior is virtually impossible. Managers can, however, discover whether When it comes to innovation, relying on intuition won't cut it anymore. Whether it's improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. This is especially true in the online world, where predicting customer behavior is virtually impossible. Managers can, however, discover whether a new product, service, or business model will fail or succeed--by subjecting it to rigorous experimentation. Think about it. A pharmaceutical company would never introduce a new drug without first conducting a round of experiments based on established scientific protocols. Yet that's essentially what many companies do when they roll out new products and services. As Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke shows in this eye-opening and essential book, the "best guess" approach to innovation is changing fast. There are now leading companies that conduct more than ten thousand online controlled experiments annually, engaging millions of users. These organizations have discovered that an "experiment with everything" approach has a big payoff, giving them a considerable competitive advantage. How can you do this at your company? Leaders and managers need to create an "experimentation organization" that masters the science of testing and puts the discipline of experimentation at the center of the innovation process. It used to take companies years to build the infrastructure and develop the expertise to run hundreds of experiments each day. But Thomke shows how, with advances in technology, these capabilities are at the fingertips of almost any business professional. By combining the power of software and the rigor of controlled experiments, today's managers can make better decisions, create better customer experiences, and generate huge financial returns. Filled with engaging and instructive stories of leading experimentation organizations, Experimentation Works will be your guidebook to a truly new way of thinking and innovating.


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When it comes to innovation, relying on intuition won't cut it anymore. Whether it's improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. This is especially true in the online world, where predicting customer behavior is virtually impossible. Managers can, however, discover whether When it comes to innovation, relying on intuition won't cut it anymore. Whether it's improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. This is especially true in the online world, where predicting customer behavior is virtually impossible. Managers can, however, discover whether a new product, service, or business model will fail or succeed--by subjecting it to rigorous experimentation. Think about it. A pharmaceutical company would never introduce a new drug without first conducting a round of experiments based on established scientific protocols. Yet that's essentially what many companies do when they roll out new products and services. As Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke shows in this eye-opening and essential book, the "best guess" approach to innovation is changing fast. There are now leading companies that conduct more than ten thousand online controlled experiments annually, engaging millions of users. These organizations have discovered that an "experiment with everything" approach has a big payoff, giving them a considerable competitive advantage. How can you do this at your company? Leaders and managers need to create an "experimentation organization" that masters the science of testing and puts the discipline of experimentation at the center of the innovation process. It used to take companies years to build the infrastructure and develop the expertise to run hundreds of experiments each day. But Thomke shows how, with advances in technology, these capabilities are at the fingertips of almost any business professional. By combining the power of software and the rigor of controlled experiments, today's managers can make better decisions, create better customer experiences, and generate huge financial returns. Filled with engaging and instructive stories of leading experimentation organizations, Experimentation Works will be your guidebook to a truly new way of thinking and innovating.

30 review for Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

  1. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Leading innovation in organization requires experimentations. We wouldn’t know if our ideas will stand the test of even a short time if we haven’t tested it using the scientific method. This book is full of exciting and deep insights on business experimentation. It lays the foundation of what it means to conduct business experiments as well as the possible hindrances towards its adoption. The books also helps organizations dealing with so many uncertainties to develop the discipline of experimenta Leading innovation in organization requires experimentations. We wouldn’t know if our ideas will stand the test of even a short time if we haven’t tested it using the scientific method. This book is full of exciting and deep insights on business experimentation. It lays the foundation of what it means to conduct business experiments as well as the possible hindrances towards its adoption. The books also helps organizations dealing with so many uncertainties to develop the discipline of experimentation so they can isolate data noises from the critical insights needed to make tractions of their goals.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lukas Vermeer

    There are lots of books that explain in detail how to design and execute a randomized controlled experiment. This is not one of those books. Instead, this book sheds some much needed light on the questions of why and how organizations can utilize experimentation at scale to drive evidence-based customer-centric innovation. “Large-scale testing is not a technical thing; it’s a cultural thing that you need to fully embrace. You need to ask yourself two big questions: How willing are you to be confr There are lots of books that explain in detail how to design and execute a randomized controlled experiment. This is not one of those books. Instead, this book sheds some much needed light on the questions of why and how organizations can utilize experimentation at scale to drive evidence-based customer-centric innovation. “Large-scale testing is not a technical thing; it’s a cultural thing that you need to fully embrace. You need to ask yourself two big questions: How willing are you to be confronted every day by how wrong you are? And how much autonomy are you willing to give to the people who work for you? And if the answer is that you don’t like to be proven wrong and don’t want employees to decide the future of your products, it’s not going to work. You will never reap the full benefits of experimentation.” (David Vismans, Chief Product Officer of Booking.com)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andreas Aristidou

    Overall I found this to be a great guideline – a must-read for any business/organization thinking about implementing experimentation. The author takes us through countless examples of companies and organizations who have embraced an experimentation culture. Throughout those examples, he exposes readers to the hurdles and the benefits of becoming an experimentation organization. His vast experience in this area shines throughout the book. While the book touches upon the math and statistics of exp Overall I found this to be a great guideline – a must-read for any business/organization thinking about implementing experimentation. The author takes us through countless examples of companies and organizations who have embraced an experimentation culture. Throughout those examples, he exposes readers to the hurdles and the benefits of becoming an experimentation organization. His vast experience in this area shines throughout the book. While the book touches upon the math and statistics of experiments, it’s not the main purpose. The book is structured around several companies and high-level executives who have transformed their organizations to embrace experimentation. As such it looks at the big picture of experimentation rather than its technical details. In what follows I will attempt to summarize each chapter by discussing the key points, quotes and examples from each chapter. Read my in-depth summary of the book here: https://aristidouandreas.com/book-rev...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexandre Blanco

    After reading this book you realise why companies such as Zara, Amazon or Booking became leaders in their markets and especially how top performers are adapting and shaping the market by trying and trying in a high-speed way under today very uncertain and changing scenarios. They do it through extensive experimentation. Prof. Thomke describes in precise and understandable words for non-scientist readers the experimental design method (deduction, induction, abduction, the use of controls…) and ho After reading this book you realise why companies such as Zara, Amazon or Booking became leaders in their markets and especially how top performers are adapting and shaping the market by trying and trying in a high-speed way under today very uncertain and changing scenarios. They do it through extensive experimentation. Prof. Thomke describes in precise and understandable words for non-scientist readers the experimental design method (deduction, induction, abduction, the use of controls…) and how to set it up in house, not focusing in R&D only, but in other company units which would integrate Marketing, Sales, Customer Service… which can easily be taken and run by all type of companies, not exclusively by internet technology firms. What I find more valuable for those managers who want to implement an experimenting culture or those Business readers is the holistic approach Prof. Thomke provides describing business strategy, the identification and “conversion” of key stakeholders towards Experimentation and the procedure and tools a to make it happen and even introduce a real corporate culture change taken in the book. Furthermore, the author intertwines practical cases such as the New Zealand America's Cup sailing team with research findings with concept/idea development and traps the reader to go to the next chapter immediately. Experimentation works is one of the reference business books of the last years and a must read not only for Top Management Executives seeking Disruption, sustainable competitive advantages or an agile system to generate more innovative solutions, but for those managers who can benefit in their marketing, sales, IT or operations arenas as well as for those business readers who want to understand the advantage of those companies performing a high number of experiments in a short period of time to adapt and even shape today’s ultrafast changing global markets.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paulo Peres

    O livro é um bom exercício de forma técnica sobre como pensar, fazer e implementar a Experimentação dentro da empresa. É fortemente baseado no estudo do autor da empresa Booking.com, mostrando também muitos exemplos da Microsoft. Um dos maiores ganhos que o autor nos entrega é a mudança de mentalidade que Testar / Experimentar nos traz: o incrementalismo é importante para a inovação! Testar sempre e de forma rigorosa e bem montada, traz sempre lucros. Small and continuous change! Tanto para uma e O livro é um bom exercício de forma técnica sobre como pensar, fazer e implementar a Experimentação dentro da empresa. É fortemente baseado no estudo do autor da empresa Booking.com, mostrando também muitos exemplos da Microsoft. Um dos maiores ganhos que o autor nos entrega é a mudança de mentalidade que Testar / Experimentar nos traz: o incrementalismo é importante para a inovação! Testar sempre e de forma rigorosa e bem montada, traz sempre lucros. Small and continuous change! Tanto para uma empresa ambidestra ou não, experimentar (a experiência do cliente, backend e modelos de negócios) é importante para ganhar competitividade através de números (data-driven). O livro poderia ter um toque de design com mais diagramas, mais esquemas visuais. Isto ajudaria o leitor a fixar a leitura mais tempo.

  6. 4 out of 5

    George Mount

    Relatively good introduction to business experiments. In particular the author did a great job explaining the organizational/cultural implications of experimentation. However the examples were nearly entirely taken from digital business (It read like a pamphlet for Booking.com at times.). The author himself stated one of the "myths of experimentation" was that it couldn't apply to "analog" business, but didn't go into nearly as much detail on them (Did I mention the author enjoys writing about B Relatively good introduction to business experiments. In particular the author did a great job explaining the organizational/cultural implications of experimentation. However the examples were nearly entirely taken from digital business (It read like a pamphlet for Booking.com at times.). The author himself stated one of the "myths of experimentation" was that it couldn't apply to "analog" business, but didn't go into nearly as much detail on them (Did I mention the author enjoys writing about Booking.com?). All that said, this book offers a great take on the compatibility of analytics and innovation and (roll credits) the power of business experiments.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Mainwaring

    Fairly introductory and not a lot of new information here but a good overview of experimentation/why it works. Reminded me of how much I love the topic. Our intuitions are often wrong and real change usually takes place through small, iterative product changes. Chapters 3 & 5 are worth coming back to, especially the case studies around booking.com and Microsoft. I was less interested in the sections about how to make your organization more experiment-driven because this is already the case at mo Fairly introductory and not a lot of new information here but a good overview of experimentation/why it works. Reminded me of how much I love the topic. Our intuitions are often wrong and real change usually takes place through small, iterative product changes. Chapters 3 & 5 are worth coming back to, especially the case studies around booking.com and Microsoft. I was less interested in the sections about how to make your organization more experiment-driven because this is already the case at most places I’m interested in working for.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Grimm

    Great for marketing professionals and beyond I read this book because I listened to a podcast about experimentation a few months ago. Since I recently started working at a digital marketing company I thought it would be useful to dig deeper and read the book. To be honest, it was a bit boring for me so I kind of power-read it, but I certainly gained a few golden nuggets of information that will help me excel as an HR manager in a marketing company!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Moncada

    Cuando se trata de mejorar la experiencia de los clientes, probar nuevos modelos de negocio o desarrollar nuevos productos, incluso los gerentes más experimentados a menudo se equivocan. Este libro brinda una perspectiva y un marco de trabajo sobre cómo implementar una cultura de la experimentación y del testeo sobre todas las iniciativas utilizando el método científico en la toma de decisiones empresariales.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emmanuel Freddy

    A great book to read if you are looking to start up an experimentation culture on your team/company. Lots of examples given mostly in the context of bigger companies but a lot of applicable principles to smaller companies too. Helps you understand the power of experimentation and better convey it to people who might not.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    Advertised as a book about experimentation in business, it was focused on large companies with lots of traffic and data, such as Amazon and Booking. There wasn’t a clear way for those in other types of businesses to apply these methods. Some good information about applying innovation and gaining acceptance throughout an organization.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shabana bi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Great

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark E.

    Practical examples of how to improve experimental approaches, particularly for consumer products

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lee Barry

    I did only a cursory reading, but I can see how this would be of great interest to people that are involved in business innovation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Can Karakulak

    Best business book I've read in 2020 so far. Best business book I've read in 2020 so far.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    If you aren't sure if experimentation is right for your company, then this book is for you. I was disappointed because I was hoping this would go deeper than just making the case for experimentation. If you aren't sure if experimentation is right for your company, then this book is for you. I was disappointed because I was hoping this would go deeper than just making the case for experimentation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    George Hipp

    Good book to read if your attempting to transform an organization from one led top down with decisions made by instincts to an experimenting organization led by innovation suggested at all levels, selected by the scientific method. This is not a statistics book and there is no advanced math or methods, it is a study of organizations who rely on experiments to make decisions and a framework to develop the skills in any organization. It is a ton of work, and is important. This book explains why, e Good book to read if your attempting to transform an organization from one led top down with decisions made by instincts to an experimenting organization led by innovation suggested at all levels, selected by the scientific method. This is not a statistics book and there is no advanced math or methods, it is a study of organizations who rely on experiments to make decisions and a framework to develop the skills in any organization. It is a ton of work, and is important. This book explains why, examples of it done well, warnings of pitfalls and suggestions. It will be up to you to figure out how to fit into your culture.

  18. 5 out of 5

    April

    I went back and forth a bit on my perception and application of the material chapter to chapter. In my opinion there was a bit much on the web/site side of experimentation. I’m looking for day to day application no matter where people are within the organization. Curious how others have applied experiments to their every day.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    Experimentation* is important in companies but as the author showed the ability to try thousands of things of which only 5% are successful is reserved to companies that already did it. I'm not sure Google or IBM or booking.com would have been so open to experiments in their early days. All in all, the author made his point. I think this book is perfect students as reading in graduate studies or for business owners that have a profit and want to grow their business. * - I got this book in advance Experimentation* is important in companies but as the author showed the ability to try thousands of things of which only 5% are successful is reserved to companies that already did it. I'm not sure Google or IBM or booking.com would have been so open to experiments in their early days. All in all, the author made his point. I think this book is perfect students as reading in graduate studies or for business owners that have a profit and want to grow their business. * - I got this book in advance for an honest review

  20. 5 out of 5

    Darya

    Innovation is the key strategy for survival today. The world of technology and entrepreneurial minds is booming and companies who do not transform into digital, do not innovate in the right time have less chance for survival. This book is a very comprehensive practical guide to innovation from idea to testing and understanding the results.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jakob Rak

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stein

  23. 4 out of 5

    Winston Charles

  24. 5 out of 5

    E Ouwehand

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Atzberger

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Sheth

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris Snow

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marco

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maurits

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