The Importance of having a Culture of Experimentation

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In today’s business world, the ability to experiment quickly and efficiently is more important than ever. With such a rate of change in technology and the global economy, businesses must be able to adapt their products and services to meet the needs of their customers. A culture of experimentation is essential to a company’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

What is a culture of experimentation? A culture of experimentation is an organizational mindset, one that values and encourages experimentation to generate new ideas, solve problems, and learn from failures. A culture of experimentation is based on the belief that failure is a necessary part of innovation, and that it is OK to take risks.

A culture of experimentation also has the added benefit of making employees feel more engaged in their work. Employees who feel that they can experiment and take risks are more likely to be creative and innovative. They are also more likely to stay with the company for a longer period.

So why is a culture of experimentation so important?

1) It allows businesses to move forward quickly and efficiently, by validating hypotheses quickly and “cheaply”.

2) It engages employees, and makes them feel more engaged in their work.

3) It leads to innovation.

What if …

I were to tell you that 99% of everything that is written above is also a part of a small experiment? If you want to know more – then continue reading. Also, this year the KTLC team approached us to see whether we would be interested in supporting them in organizing one of the best translation and localization industry events in Poland. We respected their efforts and organization last year, and so happily agreed to continue partnering. This sponsorship also included the blog article that you are currently reading. I knew it should have been done long ago, but life is life, so it’s now being written only a short time before the conference takes place.

Out of respect for all you readers, trying to figure out what the article might be about, it’s not commercial, but instead it fulfills the human desire for knowledge while being practical by sharing some insights.

How to embrace a culture of experimentation? Lessons learnt by Skrivanek. 

  • Failure is not an option

If you personally or your organization embraces a culture of experimentation, then failures are an inevitable event and most of you know that. So we must be ready not just to embrace such a culture but to deal with all the consequences, both positive and negative.

We’ve tried out countless experiments at Skrivanek, and yet only some of them become a long-standing part of the processes/products within our organization. Just to name a few, creating our own machine translation solution, replacing one internally built and well-functioning TMS system with another, which we are still struggling with, hundreds of larger and smaller experiments in the marketing department, and countless other ones on a daily basis within different departments and roles. Did all of them go well? Not really, and there are some we cannot even disclose.

Here at Skrivanek, we try to see all those failures as something that we can learn from – what can we change so it gets better, and shall we continue them all or leave an idea behind?

  • Start with yourself

Do you manage a team or maybe even an organization, or perhaps you are one-man show? Questioning the status-quo is always connected with some risks. To feel more comfortable with running experiments with your team/partners, try to experiment with yourself first. Change some of your daily routines to see how it affects you. How about exploring a new hobby, reading a book outside your interest zone, joining some local activist group for a while, or anything else in between.  

But before you hop on, think about what you want to achieve by doing this. Learn a new skill, get to know more, find ways where you can improve your products based on another industry, or perhaps something else?  Running experiments without a purpose might be fun, but will it be more rewarding if you can compare the outcome with your initial goal.

  • Start small

Neither your business nor your life should be like Russian roulette, unless you are all into the “Live fast, die young” sort of thing.  Based on our experience, we suggest running experiments that seem challenging, yet achievable, that make sense and do not endanger our whole business. We have tried niche language services, as with other business ideas in the past, but since not everything worked well, we simply left them behind. Some were costly and unpleasant, yet we learned a lot along the way. The easiest and less costly have usually been those experiments that don’t involve more than a few people and certain elements in a process.

  • Testing a few options

Also known as the A/B testing method, it can also be applied outside the digital marketing field, which we also use extensively for such purposes in Skrivanek. We use this approach with many elements, like which division within the company can we entrust to work with state tenders, who will be our partner in delivering a certain project to a client, and what system should we choose as our main CAT tool, and so much more. Often it is not only the A or B, as there are many options being considered. Some may see it as indecisiveness, yet at Skrivanek we are trying to see it differently. And does it always help us to achieve the desired result? Not really, see point no. 1: “Failure is an option”, and we accept that.

  • Collaborate and be thankful

Collaborating with others does not just increase your chances of hitting the jackpot, it simply helps you to test things faster and to realize whether it is even worth moving further. What I have learned while working with people and experimenting – is that running experiments is not for everyone. For most of us, it’s a basic human need – to feel safe and be comfortable, while experiments can throw something into the unknown. There will be some who will be eager to join in testing new hypotheses, and others who will take different stands. You need to deal with it.

Not all LSPs are run like startups. While it’s great to be surrounded by motivated and like-minded people, it’s also important to have a range of perspectives. So be thankful for those pessimistic views and to your opponents – you can learn a lot more from them than you think. Such people are like guards who can observe risks and problematic situations, and prevent them before things go too far.

  • Keep the ball rolling

Running experiments daily can be tiresome. Here at Skrivanek, with all due respect, we work and are certified by five ISO certificates. Inevitably this means that there are things we do because “that’s how those things have always been done” – it’s according to our policy or manual. For our clients, this is of course great news. But for an organization, it’s a continuous challenge, as even when we have found a better or more resourceful way how to achieve the same result, things might still go back to the old ways.

To keep our ball rolling, we try to encourage people to learn new things, motivate them to express thoughts and ideas in an open and friendly atmosphere, and don’t punish them for their failures, but instead look for the things we learned from those experiences.

Conclusions:

Did you know that AI-generated art won a fine arts competition just a few days ago?

Going back to the sentence: “What if … I would tell you that 99% of everything that’s written above is also a part of a small experiment?”

If AI generated piece of art can win a fine art competition, can a 4-paragraph intro made by AI grasp your attention, making you interested in reading the whole article, especially if it’s written by a non-vocal person?

Did you know that 99% of the text used as an intro for this article was done by one of the AI tools we are testing currently.

Even if this particular intro was not exciting enough, I would not blame the AI, but the author – as I was the one picking the subject.

AI is here to stay – we, who work in the language service industry, know it so well. By embracing the culture of experimentation, you can increase your own chances of being successful on an individual and an organizational level.

Here at Skrivanek, we embrace the culture of experimentation, and it really extends beyond testing how AI can be used with our translation, localization, or copywriting projects. Experimenting is essential for any business that wants to stay competitive. So if you personally or your company isn’t already embracing a culture of experimentation, now is the time to start!

If you are a linguist and looking for new challenges, check our career section to see if we can help each other.

If you are looking for other ways to work with Skrivanek – lets connect.

Arturs from Skrivanek

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