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The Key To Driving Digital Innovation Through Experimentation: What’s Missing From Your Strategy


In my first six months as CEO of Brooks Bell, I’ve traveled around the country meeting with experimentation leaders at some of the world’s biggest enterprises. In these meetings, we talk about the maturity of their optimization program, the health of their teams, and how they’re implementing and using technology. 

After so many of these meetings, I’ve figured out what separates advanced testing programs from the pack: testing is not just limited to one department; rather, testing is a tactic used by many teams, and experimentation is a value reflected across the entire company. 

This manifests itself in many ways: how new products and features are developed and go to market, the ways in which a company views and uses its data and technology, how teams embrace change, and how leadership views the relationship between failure and innovation. 

So it now begs the question, “How do you actually attain this culture of experimentation?” 

There are three factors that leading experimentation programs have in common: 

Data- and technology-enabled 

Within these teams you’ll find blended data and technology experts who have spent the last decade learning how to implement and fully leverage tools for testing, analytics, CDPs, personalization, CRM, business intelligence and Voice of Customer. It is because of these folks that organizations can use data to optimize their customer experiences, and inform their business and go-to-market strategies. 


Many of these teams have been built to scale and are engaged in building experimentation Centers of Excellence to support rapid iteration and maximum test velocity. They tout impressive win rates and meaningful revenue impact.


Finally, these teams are multi-disciplinary. Your traditional analysts, designers and developers teams have been transformed into anthropologists, ethicists, statisticians, social scientists, and psychologists — all of whom bolster their knowledge with technical skills to take the digital experience to the next level. 

Recommended Read: Staffing Your Testing Team to Increase Velocity

Despite all this, it’s surprising that experimentation has still not taken a stronger hold as an operational and growth strategy for businesses. For many companies, the team is there but the culture is not, and as such, their impact is finite. 

According to the fifth annual study of digital business from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, published in June 2019, 55% of digitally maturing companies say they need new leaders in order to succeed in the digital environment.

I believe that leader is a new type of experimentation leader: a catalyst.

This catalyst is the oft-missing fourth factor that required to elevate a great experimentation program to one that is mission-critical.   

The non-scientific definition of a catalyst is an event or thing that causes change. In the context of building a culture of experimentation, the catalyst is a person who knows optimization intimately, but also has the necessary internal influence to continually sound the gong for testing, to share insights and learnings and get other teams on board.

I watch a lot of movies and I can’t help but see the similarities between this and the typical heist plot. In Ocean’s Eleven, for example, both Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (played by Brad Pitt) occupied critical leadership roles in their quest to successfully rob three casinos: Rusty presided over the day-to-day operations of the heist, while Danny, the catalyst, ensured the team’s alignment with the bigger picture, offered inspiration and motivation, and provided a vision for the future (see: Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen)

Consider your team: who on it occupies the logistical heart – running the day-to-day operations? Alternatively, who contributes the most to the bigger picture?  

It’s possible these new leaders already exist within your digital team, or perhaps it is you, yourself! Unleashing your catalyst requires you to empower them with training, coaching, technology, customer and industry insights, and–most importantly–opportunities to demonstrate their catalytic abilities to inspire, motivate and drive change. 

It’s as simple as this: Find your catalyst. Find your key to digital transformation. 

Click Summit, our annual, invite-only experimentation conference, is the perfect gathering for catalysts and their tactical counterparts. With an attendee list limited to just 100 experts and an agenda centered on small-group conversations, Click offers the perfect first step in providing your catalyst with opportunities to further their leadership skills.

Our 11th Annual Click Summit is September 29-October 1, 2020 and space is filling up! Request an invitation today.