Power of experimentation

Startups experiment using what we call the Lean Startup / Design Sprint Methodology. Even if they fail, they try to ‘fail fast‘. All great scientific discoveries are a result of ‘experimentation’ and testing of hypothesis.

Why can’t we do this to discover ourselves?

I had this question on my mind, since college.

Everyone wanted to (and still want to) start a startup, but, I’ve been skeptical. I wanted to make sure it’s not an infatuation and hence wanted to explore & experiment first.

I assumed that I’d really enjoy working with, and would be a far more valuable/useful asset for startups than MNCs. I created this dot (read hypothesis) based on my experiences in college.

My validation process –

– Enjoyed working with and added value to 2-3 startups while in college
– Cracked the first startup internship interview
– Was one of the 2 out of 30 to successfully complete the aforementioned brutal 10 weeks-long internship
– Enjoyed the ‘process’ while working; observed that the cognitive load required by my brain is much lower compared to my peers
– Cracked the first startup job interview
– Was able to easily grab another startup internship right after graduation, on my own
– After my placement offer was revoked by the startup (citing bad market conditions), had received a full-time offer from the startup where I was interning

All these points strengthened my beliefs and validated my hypothesis, which had been created back in college (by trying and experimenting with a multitude of things). Later, my beliefs were further strengthened by feedback from employers, peers, acquaintances, mentors, colleagues and friends.

Let me share another example of how I used the power of experimentation to become an accidental writer.

I have been writing bits and pieces in my private journal since college times.

From mid 2017, I started blogging privately and shared some of the posts with my friends and college network. These posts were received pretty well – definitely much better than I had expected.

Then, I assumed that I might be able to connect with more readers through my writing. So, in 2018, I started writing more on Linkedin. From mid 2018 onward, I started getting positive feedback about my posts on Linkedin. Most people I spoke to said that they follow and look forward to my posts on Linkedin. Some even said that my posts were inspiring and motivating to them.

By then, I had already started working on a non-fiction manuscript (now published as ‘Trapped’) – dedicated to the youth of India. This was while working full-time at Acadview (now a part of Upgrad).

I wasn’t sure that I could write a book, but here’s why I still decided to go ahead and experiment with the idea – My ex made me realize that I shared a lot of gyaan (uncalled for) and that people want gyaan from only credible people. But, the stubborn part of me wanted to share whatever I’ve learnt and experienced so far, anyway.

Plus, some motivated students from Acadview and college juniors asked me the same questions over and over again – ‘What do I do?’, ‘How do I know what to choose /pursue’, and I was tired of advising people 1-1. The subject was too vast for me to cover over a brief phone call. I felt that this was a common problem, worth writing a book to address.

After the positive feedback from Linkedin users, I started taking the manuscript more seriously, and worked harder to get it published. Shared the first draft with around 15 college students and recent graduates, just to be sure that the work makes sense to them. Based on their feedback and suggestions, made changes and iterated the manuscript multiple times (with the help of a good editor, Ankita Gupta).

I moved on from Acadview in Aug’18 and the work finally got published in Feb’19.

My next assumption/hypothesis is that I’ll be able to write a fiction book /create stories too.

Here’s how I plan on validating this –
– Write stories on Quora
– Write stories on platforms like Juggernaut where there’s already an engaged readers community
– Write stories for Amazon KDP / KDP contest

If the above goes well, only then I will invest the time to go ahead and write fiction.

And, that’s the power of experimentation. It allows us to quickly validate our thoughts and assumptions. Chapter 3 of the bookTrapped‘ is all about the ‘Experiment’.

What are you currently experimenting with? What do you think about experimentation?

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