August 25, 2020

Good test and learn programs vs. bad ones


Determine if your test and learn program has successful characteristics or if it is leaning toward failure.

A dead-end program is one that can’t get proven-to-be-successful customer behaviours and insights implemented. It shows either there is a misalignment between the program and the company’s goals, the company is poorly run, or both.

Good test and learn programs understand testing serves a business purpose and need. Experiments tact to a business strategy and company North Star metric. Bad programs advance glossy metrics, twist n’ turn, or worse, cherry-pick data to justify the experiment.

Good test and learn programs have executive buy-in and air cover. Not only does the program have a powerful champion, development, product, and marketing leaders are enlisted to implement action and supercharge test ideation. Bad programs are hamstrung between multiple departments and leadership. There is no accountability or senior advocacy. Department leaders are kept on a need-to-know basis.

Bad programs are stuck in the margins, running endless optimizations.

Good test and learn programs are customer-centric and consider entire customer journeys. Not only do they solve real customer problems with hypotheses rooted in qualitative and quantitative data, they understand and empathize with what the customer wants to achieve. Bad programs move metrics, not solve customer problems.

Good test and learn programs are trusted to make big changes. They have track records producing impactful customer insights and are trusted to make steadily bigger bets. Bad programs are stuck in the margins, running endless optimizations. New products and services i.e. businesses are NOT built on optimizations.

Good test and learn programs build libraries and educate through learnings and insights.  Good programs empower organizations. Results are translated, shared and broadly discussed internally in order to stimulate ideation across the company. Bad programs are elitist, closed, or unreflective.

Good programs empower organizations.

Good test and learn programs ideate and move fast. Bad ones are trapped pursuing test perfection. Due to their slow velocity, they never develop the skills to produce the kind of customer insights that sway leadership and transform companies.

Good test and learn programs can tap diverse talents and resources. They are composed of or can easily tap UX designers, data and behavioral scientists, and relevant developers. Bad programs hire a lone growth strategist, buy a tool, and circle back in six months expecting results.

Good test and learn programs have a strategy. Bad ones buy tools and then hack a strategy to fit.

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