AB1601: Innovation Building a Culture of Experimentation by Stefan Thomke From the Magazine: Organizational Behaviors & Design Essay, NTU, Singapore

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University Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Subject AB1601: Organizational Behaviors & Design

Innovation Building a Culture of Experimentation by Stefan Thomke From the Magazine (March–April 2020) Harold Edgerton Online experiments can be a game-changer when it comes to marketing and innovation. By running some 25,000 tests a year, for instance, Booking.com has transformed itself from a small start-up to the world’s largest accommodation platform. Today scaling up an organization’s experimentation capabilities is critical, but many firms struggle to do it—not because of technology but because of culture.

To break down cultural barriers, companies need to create an environment where curiosity is nurtured, data trumps opinions, any employee can launch tests, all experiments are ethical, and a new more-democratic model of leadership prevails. Ultimately, executives have to be able to confront the possibility that they are wrong daily and willing to give their people greater autonomy. Avoid the Pitfalls of A/B Testing.

In December 2017, just before the busy holiday travel season, Booking.com’s director of the design proposed a radical experiment: testing an entirely new layout for the company’s home page. Instead of offering lots of options for hotels, vacation rentals, and travel deals, as the existing home page did, the new one would just feature a small window asking where the customer was going, the dates, and the number of people at the party, and present three simple options: “accommodations,
” “flights,
” and “rental cars.
” All the content and
design elements—pictures, text, buttons, and messages—thatBooking.com had spent years optimizing would be eliminated.

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