Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

by Stefan H. Thomke
Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments

by Stefan H. Thomke


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Don't fly blind. See how the power of experiments works for you.

When it comes to improving customer experiences, trying out new business models, or developing new products, even the most experienced managers often get it wrong. They discover that intuition, experience, and big data alone don't work. What does? Running disciplined business experiments. And what if companies roll out new products or introduce new customer experiences without running these experiments? They fly blind.

That's what Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke shows in this rigorously researched and eye-opening book. It guides you through best practices in business experimentation, illustrates how these practices work at leading companies, and answers some fundamental questions: What makes a good experiment? How do you test in online and brick-and-mortar businesses? In B2B and B2C? How do you build an experimentation culture? Also, best practice means running many experiments. Indeed, some hugely successful companies, such as Amazon, Booking.com, and Microsoft, run tens of thousands of controlled experiments annually, engaging millions of users. Thomke shows us how these and many other organizations prove that experimentation provides significant competitive advantage.

How can managers create this capability at their own companies? Essential is developing an experimentation organization that prizes the science of testing and puts the discipline of experimentation at the center of its innovation process. While it once took companies years to develop the tools for such large-scale experiments, advances in technology have put these tools at the fingertips of almost any business professional. By combining the power of software and the rigor of controlled experiments, today's managers can make better decisions, create magical customer experiences, and generate big financial returns.

Experimentation Works is your guidebook to a truly new way of thinking and innovating.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633697102
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 659,194
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Stefan H. Thomke, a leading authority on the management of innovation, is the William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is the author of Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation (Harvard Business Review Press, 2003), as well as over one hundred articles, cases, and notes published in books and journals such as Harvard Business Review, Management Science, and MIT Sloan Management Review. Thomke has chaired numerous executive education programs, both at Harvard Business School and in companies around the world. He is a frequent conference speaker and adviser to global business leaders.

You can find the author at:

Table of Contents

Preface: A Tribute to the Scientific Method ix

Why I wrote the book (and why you should read it)

Understanding the power of thinking and acting scientifically

Entering a new age of large-scale business experimentation

Introduction: The Business Experimentation Imperative 1

The need for business experiments to drive innovation and profitable growth

Deploying large-scale experimentation as a businesswide practice

Brief introduction to the book's ideas and frameworks

1 Why Experimentation Works 15

The role of business experimentation in innovation

Understanding the power of tools and the experimentation process

Leveraging the operational drivers of high-velocity learning

2 What Makes a Good Business Experiment? 51

The elements of a good business experiment

Seven questions that yield better management decisions

Appreciating the limits of experimentation

3 How to Experiment Online 81

The business value of A/B testing

Leveraging the power of incremental innovation for business performance

Learning the best experimentation practices from leading digital companies

4 Can Your Culture Handle Large-Scale Experimentation? 115

The seven attributes of a true experimentation culture

Diagnosing and addressing cultural obstacles

Adopting a new management model for experimentation organizations

5 Inside an Experimentation Organization 153

The operating model of a true experimentation organization

Democratizing testing through process, management, and cultural discipline

Using technology, scale, and velocity for competitive advantage

6 Becoming an Experimentation Organization 187

The steps to becoming a true experimentation organization

Using seven system levers and the ABCDE maturity framework to analyze your situation

Deploying experimentation tools most effectively

7 Seven Myths of Business Experimentation 213

The myths that undermine experimentation and innovation

Realizing that your actions will lead to opposite reactions

Addressing fallacies that slow down progress

Epilogue: A Brief Look at the Future 225

The future of experimentation is already here

Understanding the role of AI

Adding value to automated testing and decision making

Notes 231

Selected Bibliography 249

Index 257

Acknowledgments 267

About the Author 271

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