Bloodletting: Why Controlled Experiments are Important

Bloodletting: Why Controlled Experiments are Important

I want to start this post with the last paragraph of this article:

Next time someone tells you that they are sure their idea will work, consider running a prototype in a controlled experiment, and make a data driven decision!

Now – the article itself is in the context of Microsoft software development, but this is what "lean thinking" is all about.

In the Toyota Production System, processes and the organization are deliberately constructed so that a kaizen experiment in one area is unlikely to affect another – at least not before there is ample warning and opportunity to reverse the change.

Every production cycle itself is conducted as a controlled experiment testing the hypothesis that the process:

  • Can be conducted as specified.
  • Delivers the specified results.

Of course – and here is the key point – it is only an experiment if someone actually examines what really happens. And this is the fundamental difference that is captured in the quote at the top.

A truly lean process has built in checks that check, each and every time, whether the idea works. Any time an idea doesn’t work, there is an expectation that the process will be stopped and understood.

Continuing to blindly produce, without knowing if each and every process is working as planned, without knowing if the result is as planed each and every time is being sure it will work. It is bloodletting.

Don’t bleed your process, or your company, to death with things you "know will work."

One Reply to “Bloodletting: Why Controlled Experiments are Important”

  1. Interesting post. So many times we have tried new ideas here where I work. And after a while we have wondered if it made a difference. Sometimes I actually have even wondered if the new idea was really executed.

    When trying to change things there is much to do in terms of followup, checking and measuring.

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