I recently came across a couple of good articles on business experimentation from my meanderings of more than thirty LinkedIn group discussions. Randomized experiments or related quasi-experimental designs for measurement are now part and parcel of evidence-based business. Indeed, whether you refer to the focus as data-driven, super-crunching or big data analytics, central are large data sets, statistics/machine learning algorithms and sophisticated designs.

Writing in the European Business Review, Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke derides what he sees as the current obsession with cost-side optimization and standardization – “Six Sigmaing” – that he feels may ultimately come back to haunt practicing companies. “Such organizations leave themselves vulnerable to underinvesting in experimentation and variation, which are the lifeblood of innovation … And it is only through such experimentation, which might include structured cause-and-effect tests, informal trial-and-error experiments, and rigorous randomized field trials, that companies can unlock their true capacity for innovation.”

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