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Everything is an experiment #DigiLab

Rachael Norris explains how her experience of the Digital Lab has been a lesson in being adaptive and responsive to changing information.

My initial idea for a digital experiment was quite ambitious in terms of time and resources — and it turns out it wasn’t exactly an experiment either.

Working with my mentor Tom, I set a stretch goal for my experiment. This means that I can never fail. As long as I am working towards my stretch goal — even if something doesn’t work or goes wrong — I am able to learn and adapt from the information I gain.

My main goal, or stretch vision, is to meet people new to the theatre and grow a relationship with them online by giving people an experience that motivates them to connect with Octagon by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter or Instagram. This element of my experiment won’t change however I reach this end goal.

The Setting Up Scrappy Experiments online workshop taught me that my experiment might look like a series of experiments rather than one experiment, and that it must have measurable outcomes.

To achieve my end goal I need to ask questions about what I want to learn from the experiment.

What I want to learn from this experiment is which methods are most effective at prompting people new to us to engage with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I can measure this by tracking the metrics of how many people like/follow us over a certain time period and how many people use a certain #hashtag so we can know what prompted them.

So my experiment has become three different experiments. This means I am able to contrast the results of different methodologies and learn which method is most effective. I am going to test which method is most effective in driving engagement by asking audiences to:

  • Create something
  • Express an opinion
  • Take part

My experiments will follow the cycle of trying, reflecting, learning, planning and then trying something different. The experiments must serve to disprove that my hypothesis is wrong. Science says that you can never prove that a hypothesis is correct but that you can prove a hypothesis is not wrong!

The hypothesis for my digital experiment is that new people will engage with us online if we give them the opportunity to. What I will discover is which method works best. It is important that I approach the experiment with an open mind and eagerness to learn. I am not looking for information to support an assumption I already believe but I intend to impartially collect and reflect on the data to learn something new.

I have a bad habit of procrastinating through planning. Experimenting is almost the opposite of planning. Experiments are doing and learning as you go. Assessing where failures are and how to improve, rather than planning to avoid failure completely. It can be very disheartening if a plan doesn’t go completely according to plan and I have learnt that it is inevitable that this will happen. You really cannot account for everything through planning and if there is one thing that you can rely on it is that things will change.

Being adaptive to change is the most valuable lesson I have learnt in the process so far.

I have already adapted and changed my ideas to make things happen. Getting things done is half the battle. (My mentor Tom recommended reading the Manifesto of Done). As long as you are travelling towards your stretch goal or strategy then whatever you do to get there are your tactics, and by changing tactics that you can learn best practice.

Listening to the data, noticing when information changes and adapting to work wiser is a good start!

Image courtesy of Octagon Bolt — #BoltonOzComp — design competition on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).