Why the Best Way to Reinvent Yourself is through Experimentation

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result — Oscar Wilde

Experiments test out new methods or ideas by proving or disproving assumptions within a set time period and conditions. Deciding to reinvent yourself takes courage, action and a healthy dose of gut, yet most people don’t do it. Reinventing towards your purposeful why has more science to it than you think. Breaking down action through experiments is likely to lead down a desired path of success and alleviate worrisome woes. Why?

1. Reinvention is Fluid, not an End Destination

Eye rolls are not far off when one hears the cliché ‘life is about the journey not the destination’. Succeeding in goals such as “getting promotion to role ‘X’” or “transitioning into field ‘Y’” seems to be the shiny medal at the end of the rat race. However these achievements are milestones; points in time on a continuum of reinvention.

Research states current 15 year olds will have 17 employer changes across 5 careers in their lifetime. Predictions estimate that in the next 15 years, time spent for learning, problem solving and technology, science, maths and technology (STEM) will increase by 30%, 100% and 77% respectively. Not accounting for the uprising demand for soft, communication and entrepreneurial skills.

Referring to our favourite plumber Super Mario, levelling up doesn’t mean the game isn’t over. A completed level or experiment is validation of a small win. Still, many factors influence future success with improvements and growth opportunities.

2. Gives Opportunity to ‘Test the Waters’

Understanding the flow of personal reinvention and transient nature of the workforce, experiments give the ability to ‘test the waters’. Benefits include:

  1. Increased self-awareness, strengths and areas for growth within yourself
  2. Managing fear by controlled risk taking OR the opportunity to take larger risks compared to outside experiment conditions

Experimentation provides insight into drivers, strengths and working styles according ‘Built for Growth‘ authors and entrepreneurs Chris Kuenne and John Danner. Kuenne and Danner state that “Who you are shapes how you build.”

Identifying my ‘why’ helped me start Reintention and the value I wanted to create. Settling on self empowerment and career education, framing up the site was the initial experiment. Building an audience through stages of the marketing funnel requires constant testing and experimentation to see what is effective and resonates with my target audience.

Adopting the ‘try before you buy’ mindset alleviates fear associated with commitment resulting from big failure. Isolating an idea gives comfort that if things aren’t successful there is always the ability to ‘undo’. On a small scale, spending $50 on a Facebook ad or A/B test is much more effective in establishing what content, designs or headings work with an audience instead of spending thousands of dollars on traditional marketing.

Likewise, big, hairy audacious goals or moonshot goals broken down into smaller experiments and tested for validity. Growing Reintention 10x involves experiments around leveraging influences, social media networks and bundled goodies.

Types of Experiments you can Employ

In Your Current Role

  • Proof of Concepts within teams/projects/initiatives
  • Working within corporate incubators / corporate labs
  • Adjusting your working conditions — location and time as a personal experiment within your company
  • Seeking opportunities to do more beyond your role scope
  • Go Rogue!

Within Your Career

  • Shadowing / secondments / internships
  • Short courses or seminars to explore new topics or areas of interest
  • Starting a side hobby or activity with growth potential (Reintention fell into this bucket)
  • Transitioning into a new business or sector

3. Quicker Learning, Reinforced Measurement and Evaluation

How long is a piece of string?

Testing hypothesis within known parameters allows timely validation of results and immediate implementation of learning. This makes change cheaper and faster. Running an idea or change in your reinvention with no deadline is like running a race with no finish line — it is impossible to measure the result. Likewise it is crucial to have metrics and boundaries to evaluate results, otherwise how do you know if you’ve been successful?

Coupled with procrastination, fear or lack or prioritisation and tasks will take as long as the time they are given as reinforced by Parkinson’s Law.

A cornerstone concept within the lean start up and agile delivery is continuous learning achieved through change based off customer feedback. Continuous learning is obtained through evaluation of metrics such as the ‘north star metric‘. A north star metric (NSM) is a single metric that provides the biggest value to customers — what is the job to be done’?. In early stages of acquisition, Reintention’s NSM is number of subscribers. Subscribers can be traced back to the specific content they consume and receive greater value from links and tips in weekly newsletters.

Having standards to evaluate success such as a NSM acts as an overarching indicator for success whereby all other measures of success fall beneath it. (Ie. Reintention’s other metrics include number of daily visits, length of visit, bounce rates).

Additionally, working within a specific timeframe and set of constraints and having measures of success allows for a clear definition of done. The definition of done could be a specific task within an experiment, completion of the experiment/sprint itself or the end goal/release.

For example:

  1. Completion of white paper (task)
  2. Increase email subscription by ten-fold (experiment)
  3. Build out a coaching platform (end goal)

Deductions from Reinvention Experiments

  • Personal topics or areas of interest and identification of strengths
  • Whether a change should be implemented throughout a company
  • Determining the scalability of the change?
  • Customer feedback (positive or negative) — is the change worthwhile
  • Identification of who customers are (internal, external, cross-functional)
  • Do people read/consume/buy/share what you’re producing/creating/selling?
  • Is the target audience big enough?
  • Where you need to adjust — next course of action

Absorbing all of this, consider the following regarding your reinvention:

  • What do I value (why) and what could I do to further grow and develop myself? (Or within your organisation)
  • How can I break down these activities into smaller bite-size tests or experiments?
  • What timelines and conditions will these be explored in?
  • What are my measures of success and how can I use these to pivot/make changes to improve?

Originally published at www.reintention.com on August 5, 2017.

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